Twenty nine years ago this month, death metal transcended its thrash roots and became the distorted and necessarily vile animal it is today with Death‘s full length debut Scream Bloody Gore. But even more amazing is that with each successive release the band kicked and twisted this blueprint into some of the smartest and most well written death metal ever put to tape. This is just how mastermind Chuck Schuldiner’s brain worked and with the healthy string of demos that preceded this release it was extremely apparent that the devil is, and always was, in the details. And all of these details were perfect for this release that to this day is an absolute pinnacle in the death metal genre.
So many genres were coming to fruition back in 1986, black metal and NWOBHM of course, but not to mention thrash metal with its unrelenting speed and boundless energy. Possessed is by far the best example of the thrash roots apparent in early death metal but Schuldiner had a different idea. Not too terribly far off but with the introduction of horror, gore, and growled vocals. The genre, as it is known today, was born. And thus Chuck Schuldiner’s nickname ‘the father of death metal’ was also born. Morrisound Studios would play a huge part in the band’s legacy as well as being the cornerstone for death metal. Interestingly enough this album was recorded in California with Schuldiner on guitar, vocals, and bass and Chris Reifert (Autopsy) on drums with Randy Burns producing.
All these years later you’d be hard pressed to find a metalhead that hasn’t at least heard this album once and truth be told it’s a regularly played album for any fan of death metal. It set the standard and still amazes after all this time. The blasting speed of “Zombie Ritual” and the hulking riff patterns of “Sacrificial” became a sort of blueprint for literally hundreds of bands to follow. Then there’s the relentless pacing of the title track and the dirty groove of “Torn To Pieces” that gets the blood pumping even now. Much has been said over the course of this album’s longstanding career and I could ramble on and on but suffice it to say, death metal would be a different animal altogether without this seminal release.
Pulling out all the stops, Relapse has packaged this deluxe reissue with 3 discs. The first being an Alan Douches’ remaster of the original album, which sounds exceptional. Every nuance is crystal clear as well as having a warm soundstage that brings the best out of these recordings. But the biggest plus to the deluxe package is the second and third discs that are chocked full of session recordings, rehearsals, and a couple of takes on a Kiss classic. All of this is essential as we get to take a backseat in hearing the band mold each of these songs in various ways. It’s like watching a model car being meticulously built, every piece carefully placed and finally being glued in to the final product. In addition, there’s some hilarious banter back and forth between Schuldiner and Reifert which puts a personal touch on the whole thing.
The question always remains with any remastering, repackaging, or reissue of albums as to whether they really are worth your hard earned dollars. And through the years this one has seen reissuing many times — but this one is the penultimate version to own, hands down. Fans of the band, or really of death metal in general, will find many gold nuggets here that have yet to be discovered and will find much to be happy with. Including the expanded liner notes and packaging that offer deeper insights into the album and a better look at the beautiful cover art by Ed Repka. And if all these educational extras don’t appeal to you, the remastering job will. It’s as close as you can get to the original yet has a pristine sound that allows even the most hardened fan of the album a chance to hear something never heard before. Perhaps a right turn on a riff or a blast beat that was buried the first go around.
Scream Bloody Gore was an experiment in the sense that nothing else at the time sounded quite like it. And, 29 years on it still sounds as fresh and innovative as it did back then. Particularly when Death’s influence can be heard in nearly every death metal release since. I’ve got to think that Schuldiner would be pleased if he were still here to see this album’s birthday. One quick trip through the band’s discography would show an insatiable appetite to push the boundaries set by this release and consequently push the boundaries of death metal to its absolute limits and beyond. Thankfully we will always have this landmark album to return to and now, we will also have bits and pieces of history to go with it.