Monday, October 26, 2009

Death - Death by Metal

6/10

Death's demos have acquired a legendary reputation, but I really don't see what most of the fuss is about. It's definitely more recent-sounding than you'd expect from the 1984 recording date, but it completely sounds like the amateur cassette recording it is. The first thing one notices is that Chuck wasn't the frontman yet; instead, Kam Lee (later of Massacre) handled the vocal duties on all of these songs except "Power of Darkness", and he uses the death growl more associated with the genre instead of Schuldiner's raspy style. Some of the songs would later turn up on Scream Bloody Gore, but others never made it onto an actual album. The band was actually still known as "Mantas" when this was recorded, but the demo was later rereleased under the name Death.
Still, I can't get past the awful production; I understand that death metal is supposed to sound raw as hell, but it's frequently difficult to make much of anything out (the vocals on "Power of Darkness" are almost completely inaudible at times). It's clear to any death metal fan that there's good stuff going on here, but only the most die-hard fans of rough production will want to listen to Death by Metal over and over again.

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