Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Death - "Scream Bloody Gore" (Album Review)

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Reissue
Date Released: 20/05/2016
Label: Relapse Records



Overall, this is the definitive release of this classic record- it is unlikely that it will ever sound any better and comes in a form so expanded as to be the last word on this era of the band. “SBG” is undoubtedly one of the most important releases in the death metal- and even metal- genres. Interestingly, the same could be said for probably at least three further Death albums. Not a bad tally, and one that places the band in the league of Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, Metallica, and so on- albeit arguably only within their own sub genre.

“Scream Bloody Gore” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
Disc 1

01. Infernal Death
02. Zombie Ritual
03. Denial Of Life
04. Sacrificial
05. Mutilation
06. Regurgitated Guts
07. Baptized In Blood
08. Torn To Pieces
09. Evil Dead
10. Scream Bloody Gore
11. Beyond The Unholy Grave
12. Land Of No Return

Disc 2

13. Torn To Pieces (Original Florida Session)
14. Legion Of Doom (Original Florida Session)
15. Scream Bloody Gore (Original Florida Session)
16. Sacrificial (Original Florida Session)
17. Mutilation (Original Florida Session)
18. Land Of No Return (Original Florida Session)
19. Baptized In Blood (Original Florida Session)
20. Regurgitated Guts (Rehearsals 08-20-1986)
21. Sacrificial (Rehearsals 08-20-1986)
22. Sacrificial - Take 2 (Rehearsals 08-20-1986)
23. Torn To Pieces (Rehearsals 08-20-1986)
24. Do You Love Me? V1 (Rehearsals 08-20-1986)
25. Infernal Death (Rehearsals 08-20-1986)
26. Zombie Ritual (Rehearsals 08-20-1986)
27. Beyond The Unholy Grave (Rehearsals 08-20-1986)
28. Do You Love Me? V2 (Rehearsals 08-20-1986)
29. Denial Of Life (Rehearsals 08-20-1986)

The Review:

The reissuing of Death's seminal back catalogue continues here; the debut in two disc expanded form. The first disc comprises the original twelve tracks in remastered form, while the second disc takes in a further seventeen (17!?) versions of the songs on the record and oddball tracks. “Scream Bloody Gore” is, arguably, the first death metal album (yes, Possessed have a fair shout for this too, as do Celtic Frost etc etc). It finds the band on feral form, with Evil Chuck's vocals noticeably more brutal than on later releases. It was certainly hailed as a classic of the genre throughout the 90's, but since that time, Death's latter day catalogue has seemingly overtaken it in terms of reverence.

Truthfully, I prefer the later Death albums such as “Symbolic” (when is the remaster and repackage of that holy grail coming out??!) and “Individual Thought Patterns”, but there can be no denying the impact of this one. The remaster sounds great; crisp and live sounding with some tape hiss audible here and there. The thrashing beats are very fast in places (albeit blasts are still away off in the death metal canon).

Naturally, you cannot argue with the songs here; “Zombie Ritual”, “Torn to Pieces”, “Baptized in Blood”, “Mutilation...” the list goes on. Each track is an example of early death metal. For contextual purposes, it is important to remember that just four years earlier, “Kill Em All” by Metallica was the most extreme record ever released (the Venom issue is arguable). This is how far metal had come in those years; faster, heavier, gnarlier, more extreme in every way. Things would only get more extreme form here; Napalm Death and the emergence of Grindcore all the way to ultra tech, ultra brutal modern day outfits such as Nile. The groundwork is here, though, in Chuck's guttural vocals, riffs blurring with speed, copious use of double bass drums and so on. The record is not without flaws, of course- the time changes on “Denial of Life” still sound odd to my ears- but the album stands as a classic of the time and of all time.

If the album itself is an essential part of every death metaller's collection, what can be said of the bonus material? As is often the case, and as I have written about the Death reissues in the past, this is a completist's dream but a nightmare for fans of hi fidelity audio everywhere. The demo versions are exactly as you'd expect. The oddities such as “Legion of Doom” are well worth a listen if you have the time, though. To go through this with a fine tooth comb to look for differences in songs between demo and album is a luxury that I cannot really afford at this point, but for big fans of the band and album it could be a rewarding exercise. The inclusion of two rehearsal snapshots of “Do You Love Me” is at best mildly diverting.

Overall then, this is the definitive release of this classic record- it is unlikely that it will ever sound any better and comes in a form so expanded as to be the last word on this era of the band. Death would go on to make better records, but whether Chuck and whoever he hired would ever reach this level of influence again... who is to say? “SBG” is undoubtedly one of the most important releases in the death metal- and even metal- genres. Interestingly, the same could be said for probably at least three further Death albums. Not a bad tally, and one that places the band in the league of Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, Metallica, and so on- albeit arguably only within their own sub genre. Certainly, within death metal only a handful of bands could make similar claims;  the bands who only have one classic to their name are not eligible for inclusion...

Scream Bloody Gore” is available here
Band info: facebook

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