The Sound Of Perseverance


Nuclear Blast Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's kind of funny for me to think about this, but I actually find myself listening to more heavy metal music now than I did when I was a serious headbanger back in high school. Back then, I was more limited in what I listened to (having only a certain amount of funds to buy albums). These days, if it comes in the mail, I'll give anything a shot.

That said, I wonder why I never got into the group Death, even after I discovered grindcore in college. Chuck Schuldiner is one of the godfathers of metal these days, having slugged it out for well over a decade with this band. Their latest offering, The Sound Of Perseverance, shows that there was -- and is -- much more to this genre of music than just screamed lyrics and pointless solos. Death proves themselves to be a group that, musically, challenges you to think.

I wouldn't have expected this, of course. As much as I love metal, I never thought that I'd hear any -- especially death metal -- that was equally progressive. But Schuldiner and his bandmates - drummer Richard Christy, guitarist Shannon Hamm and bassist Scott Clendenin - throw more than a fair share of progressive into the mix, and it's a welcome addition.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Of course, I'm probably not telling the long-time fans of this band anything that they didn't know already. The nine songs on this disc (eight originals, and a surprising cover choice) keep you engaged almost from the first series of drum fills to the crescendo at the end of the album. Through it all, Schuldiner and crew prove something interesting about death metal: you don't have to be obscene or shocking to be just as powerful. While the images in the lyrics aren't always scenes out of a Disney cartoon, they are hardly what critics of the genre would expect.

Tracks like "Scavenger Of Human Sorrow" and "A Moment Of Clarity" all make me wonder why these guys aren't as big a name as Metallica or Megadeth. All four musicians on this album prove they're talented on their instruments (even to the instrumental work by Schuldiner on "Voice Of The Soul"), and the songwriting is top-notch.

But unlike many other bands in their genre, Death know when to thrash out as well as when to pull back on the speed a bit. They know when to move away from the barred chords and go into something a little more technical - hence the progressive side to their music. Thing is, they know exactly what they're doing and the right time to do just that. And this is what makes The Sound Of Perseverance succeed on all levels. Sure, they could have done things at breakneck speed throughout songs like "Bite The Pain", but throwing some curveballs into those songs is what makes this album so interesting to listen to.

Closing out the album is a cover of Judas Priest's "Painkiller" -- although the song has always been thrash-oriented, it does surprise me that a band like Death would choose to cover a song like this. However, the execution of this track is perfect - although Schuldiner chooses to raise the pitch of the vocals in the verses a little bit. Still, no major crime committed.

The Sound Of Perseverance is still an intense listen, no question about it. But Death isn't your typical thrash-metal band - and as much as I enjoy good thrash, this is something we should be thankful for. Schuldiner could well be the new leader of the rebirth of metal in America.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.