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Sound of Perseverance

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★★★★★
(135 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • I’ve listened to Master of Puppets, Reign In Blood, The Number of The Beast, and Paranoid, but none of them seem to match Death’s last album, Sound of Perseverence. No other metal album seems to touch it for top-notch musicianship and lyrics.

    The lineup is by far the best Chuck Schuldiner has ever assembled. With his fast, schizophrenic lead guitar and powerful, emotive lyrics, he puts on an amazing performance. Shannon Hamm does some great dual guitar work with him as well. Scott Clendenin is an excellent bassist, with several solo spots and he’s very audible as well. Richard Christy is incredible. Fast, insane, and lots of double bass are what he has to offer on this album, and the results are spectacular.

    The lyrics, in my opinion, are Chuck’s best. The lyrics on Spirit Crusher, Flesh And The Power It Holds, and A Moment In Clarity all have a very compelling outlook on human life. Never have such topics been put in such a powerful and unforgiving way. Chuck Schuldiner was truly the Bob Dylan of heavy metal. Chuck’s lyrics were pure poetry in so many ways. It’s a shame we’ll never hear from him again.

    My favorites are Spirit Crusher, Flesh And The Power It Holds, (Chuck’s best solo EVER), the beautiful instrumental Voices of The Soul, and the funny, catchy cover of Judas Priest’s Painkiller. Like people before have said, Chuck’s voice is very funny on this cover, as they sound like a cross between a black metal scream and the highest of operative power metal vocals. The result is hilarious, and only in the best way possible. Spirit has several main riffs in it which I myself find simply irresistible, and of course it’s not accompanied without a great guitar solo! Voices Of The Soul is a very pretty acoustic guitar piece with some wonderful electric arrangments my Chuck and Shannon as they trade off in ways that make it sound very atmpospheric. And the best song of all, Flesh and The Power It Holds. Great lyrics about the temptation of sex and beauty, with a very creepy and awesome opening riff which literally gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it. And the guitar solo…. wow. This is the finest shredding I’ve ever heard Schuldiner pull off!! So fast, so crazy, so….. chaotic, and yet it doesn’t sound like random noise. Incredible….

    I’ve found that the more I listen to Death’s music, the sadder and sadder I feel about Chuck’s death. He was a revolutionary man which put to shame such jokes like Cannibal Corpse and Deicide which like to put on the whole “look at me I’m so scary and cool” look. Chuck showed that intelligence and sophistication can be found in the most brutal and unforgiving metal. Truly one of the best lyricists and guitar players ever. His death was a tragedy for the world of music, and it’s terrible that few people around the globe have been able to experience the magic in his music.

    RIP Chuck Schuldiner. Your legacy spans over a decade. Your memory spans an eternity. :’(

    Posted on February 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • A number of weeks back I got Symbolic, by Death, based on the recommendations of everyone on this site. It was certainly a good album, but I was a bit disappointed anyway, considering my expectations. About a week ago I decided to get this album because Symbolic was good enough for me to give Death another shot, and I certainly don’t regret. The same basic elements define these 2 albums, but Symbolic still really couldn’t prepare me for how good this album would be. My title to this review is no exaggeration. In my book, this album stands as one of the 2 best pure metal albums I’ve ever heard.Everything just comes together here. I wasn’t to big a fan of Chuck’s vocals on Symbolic, and they are much improved here. He uses high, shrieking vocals now, which are more powerful and eerie than his half shriek, half growl of the earlier material. Hamm and Schulinder are a simply outstanding guitar team. They are both incredible lead players and their interplay, harmonized and dual leads are simply unmatched. Their rhythm work is very strong as well, with riffs ranging from lumbering, bass-filled doom metal grooves to lightning fast thrash insanity. Richard Christy (now with Iced Earth) is a hell of a drummer, which is good, since he had to replace drum god Gene Hoglan. I don’t know who’s better of the 2, but they are both so good that it doesn’t much matter. Scott is a terrific, complex bassist who can actually be heard much of the time, which leads up to the next strength, the production. The production on this album, which is usually a weakness even on modern albums, is perfect. The guitars have plenty of power, the bass can be heard much of the time the vocals are clear and the drums have good power with out being overbearing.Every track on here except one ranges from very good to outstanding in quality.(The one that doesn’t is the closer, Painkiller, which is still good, and can be accepted as being a bit weaker as it is a Judas Priest cover.) The work here is staggeringly complex. The 8 original tracks have approximately 100 notable changes in feel or tone, which comes out to about one change every 30 seconds.(This isn’t terribly scientific, as a “notable change” isn’t a terribly scientific term, but you get the idea.) Some people might even think of this as being too progressive, as no one portion of the music is ever played for more than about 1 minute in total. The complexity makes it so that you have to listen to it a number of times before you can really put it together and fully understand it. This is classified as Progressive Death Metal, but don’t let the Death Metal tag fool you. This is much more melodic than most metal and has more in common with Swedish Melodic Death, minus the keyboards, than the other American Death bands that followed them. Not that it isn’t heavy. Contrary to popular opinion, music can be melodic and heavy at once. It’s hard to pick out standout tracks, as it is extremely consistent, but a few still manage to stand out. Bite the Pain is has a slow, tragic and mournful opening riff giving way to crushing power and anger. Story to Tell has a fantastic chorus and great solos. A Moment of Clarity is one of the more melodic tracks with the most memorable vocal work on the album and smooth, tribal drumwork. Perhaps the single most memorable song is the relatively brief and simple instrument, Voice of the Soul. It’s an all guitar piece, with acoustic guitars providing the rhythm work and some of the saddest and most beautiful leads I have ever heard.I’m just gonna cut myself off, cause I can’t really do this album justice. Just get it. It is simply unbelievable.

    Posted on February 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • If a band must go, it is good that their last album is their best one (ya know, end on a high note). This is definitely Chuck Shuldiner’s best writing, and this is the best band to ever comprise Death. Surprisingly, there are no “big names” here like Steve DiGiorgio or Gene Hoglan. Shannon Hamm, Scott Clendenin, and Richard Christy (Gene who?) slaughter on this disc. What makes them so impressive? Unlike the heavy, atomistic rigidity of most death metal bands, Death’s musicians flow over each other with an organic single-mindedness that makes their sound that much more impressive. I am a Richard Christy fan, and he is awesome here: scattering cymbals across polyrythmic double-bass battery and plowing through odd-times and tempo shifts with ease.The music is generally the band’s most technical and brutal. Complex, unusual melodies and odd-time signatures galore, high-speed meter changes. Yet despite the album’s meticulous complexity, it is still extremely metal. Fast, pummeling, choppy riffs, and some of the most brilliantly predatory guitar harmonies ever penned. At the risk of scaring some people away, I must say that this is what prog metal _should_ sound like: highly melodic and complex but still brutal & heavy. And of course, no synths. The problem with the usual prog metal bands is that their “prog factor” makes them end up sounding cheesy and not metal/brutal enough. I would not call this prog metal of course, but it has certain musical similarities (take prog metal, keep the good parts, toss the bad parts, and kick it up ten notches and you are moving towards this).All of the songs are great. The opener “Scavenger of Human Sorrow” sets the standard high immediately with its heavy onslaught, spiraling melodies, and all-out speed. “Voice of the Soul” is remarkable: an instrumental with verses of somber, hypnotic electric guitar melodies over picked acoustic guitar and choruses of unbelievably gorgeous guitar ostinati over strummed acoustic that STILL sounds metal. There’s a kinda cheesy riff on “Spiritcrusher” but it doesn’t last long. The epic “Flesh and the Power It Holds” features some of the most brutal Richard Christy drumming to date. “Bite the Pain” has surprisingly lyrical melodies introduced with confidence and poise so that it doesn’t sound out of place with the song’s brutal, main chugging groove. Other than that this album is flawless, and brilliant. Even the cover of Judas Prest’s “Painkiller” is pretty cool, and I frankly think that band sucks. Shuldiner’s shrunken-Cobra-Command-from-Hell vocals are funny on that one. This is one of the rare albums that proves 90s American metal wasn’t ALWAYS something to be frowned upon. This is one of the best metal albums ever, and it ranks up there with the best heavy metal out of Sweden in the 20th century.

    Posted on February 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This is metal the way it was meant to be: fast, melodic, complicated, angry, and ultra-heavy. The musicianship on this album is even better than on their last few albums — something which I would have thought impossible had I not heard it with my own ears. Not only that, but these songs are some of the most catchy that Chuck has written, and that’s saying a lot. Chuck’s voice sounds great too — if you’re into death metal vocals — and the lyrics are intelligent and unique (and, like someone has already written below, not satanic/blasphemous, which for me is a plus). Death is definitely NOT your run-of-the-mill death metal band. These guys stand alone at the top of the mountain. I really wish that they’d get recognition on a much larger scale. They deserve it for (1) being brilliant, and (2) having the guts to play awesome music like this in a world where most people are much too stupid and/or closed-minded to at least give stuff like this a chance. If you don’t buy this album NOW, then you’re really missing out!

    Posted on February 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Death was one of the pioneering extreme metal bands, and one of the best in the genre by far. Every album they made was a distinct progression from the last, and they only got better and better. This, their final album, was the culmination of Chuck Schuldiner’s creative genius, and perhaps the finest of their catalogue.

    “The Sound of Perseverance” is progressive metal done right. The songs are complex, unpredictable, and always interesting, but the “progginess” never detracts from the “metalness” (Dream Theater should have taken some lessons from these guys when they tried to make a “classic metal” album with “Train of Thought”). The guitar riffs are brutal and uncompromising, but very sophisticated. And they strike a perfect balance between the driving metal riffs and insane complexity. It’s not like Dillinger Escape Plan or Theory in Practice, where the riff changes every two seconds, and you can barely follow what’s going on (not that there’s anything wrong with that ;) . Chuck Schuldiner and Shannon Hamm are a brilliant guitar duo. Both have incredible chops, and they know exactly what to do with them. And, their playing is very melodic as well as heavy. This is a very heavy album, but it’s also a very melodic album. Oh, and the drumming. Richard Christy’s drumming on this album is fast, stylish, relentless, and just plain awesome. People keep comparing him to Gene Hoglan, as Rich was his successor, but they have very different styles, and have both contributed something really amazing to Death’s sound, just in different ways. So, I think it’s best not to compare them too much. I’ll just say that anyone filling Gene’s shoes has their work cut out for them, but Rich did a damn fine job.

    Describing these songs is pretty hard, as they’re all pretty unpredictable from beginning to end, but I’ll give it a shot. The opening track, “Scavenger of Human Sorrow” is a powerful opener, starting with a thunderous drum roll, and leading you through pulverizing riffs and incredible time changes. “Bite the Pain” starts with a very melodic riff, but soon builds into insanity, with some cool proggy basslines. “Spirit Crusher” is sort of like Judas Priest meets jazz metal (Christy shines on this one). “Story to Tell” and “Flesh and the Power It Holds” are epic progressive metal, full of dynamics, and some really amazing guitar playing (the latter being my favorite of the album). “Voice of the Soul” is a brief respite from the metal attack. This is a beautiful instrumental, with acoustic and electric guitar melodies swirling about each other in dazzling patterns. Perhaps the biggest surprise here is the cover of Judas Priest’s “Painkiller”, which is played to perfection (who knew Chuck could wail like that???). Richard Christy really adds a lot of coolness to the drumming on this one (and the drumming was pretty awesome already). Really cool and fun way to end the album.

    This is simply one of the best metal albums you can expect to hear. It has everything you need: heaviness, melody, chops, diversity, even the lyrics are great. It may take a few listens to sink in, as the songs seem a bit random and disjointed at first, but once you’ve given it a few listens, everything comes together nicely. I’d recommend buying “Human” or “Symbolic” first though, if you’re new to Death’s music, but once you’ve gotten those, get this. Also, if you’re looking to get into more challenging technical metal bands (like the ones I mentioned above), this album is a good stepping stone to ease you into it (Theory in Practice will scare you senseless if you’re not ready for them :P ).

    It’s such a shame what happened to Chuck. He was one of the most talented musicians metal has ever seen, and I can only imagine where they might have gone from here.

    Posted on February 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now