The Sound of Perserverance(Nuclear Blast - 1998)
Over three years have passed since the release of the masterpiece that is Symbolic. News of the breakup, new plans, a 'side project' called Control Denied exploring the more melodic side of metal, the decision to return to Death, and finally, the long search for a label. All these have passed and we now have before us the outcome of three more years of experience added to Chuck's repertoire, together with contributions from new band members. The previously unknown drummer is the most noticable of the lot, with a powerful, complex and talented style. Shannon (from Control Denied) contributes some guitar solos of his own and altogether, this album is much more varied and progressive than any of Death's previous releases. It is most similar to Symbolic with its use of melody and general heaviness, but it is many steps ahead in terms of technicality. Always the creative pioneer, Chuck is still living up to his reputation and has given us something new to chew on. His vocals have also changed into a stronger and raspier or higher version of Symbolic's harsh scream and is beginning to sound similar to a black metal vocal at times. The first song starts off with a refreshingly new and complex drum pattern then goes off into a progressive song structure that takes a few listens to get into. He seems to be trying to do more with the music this time, squeezing more technicalities rather than letting it flow. Some elements of the more melodic genres of metal have crept in but the vast majority of the music here is progressive death with a few riffs and patterns off of Symbolic. Chuck's solos are still the eargasmic powerhouses they always were and I'm willing to bet I can tell Shannon's solos apart just by the emotion contained in them. The second and fourth tracks are similar although a little tighter and more melodic. All these grow on you after a few listens. The third track is the weakest on the album and seems to get a little lost at times but this is relative and it isn't bad. With the fifth track start the instant masterpieces. At over eight minutes and packed with variety, melody and power, this is an epic piece of gargantuan crushing power. Track six contains a haunting duet with an acoustic and distorted electric guitar, somewhat similar to the ending of the Symbolic album. #7 is undoubtedly my favorite, taking the flowing, overwhelming emotion from Symbolic and even improving on it! Unbelievable but true. The eighth is similar to the fifth in scope, and then we have the biggest surprise of the album: a cover of Priest's 'Painkiller'. Faithful rhythm guitars and drumming but with variations in the lead guitar and solos. The vocals are screamed by non other than Chuck who sounds like he is ripping his lungs out to get this out of his chest... Now then, you didn't really need this overly long review in order to convince you to buy a new Death album did you?