Death had formed four years earlier
when guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schuldiner and future Massacre guitarist
Rick Rozz were playing the heaviest music they could imagine.
Though lacking a bassist, the pair changed the project's name
from Mantas to Death and received underground respect for a demo
called 'Infernal Death'. Numerous line-up changes followed, and
by the time 'Scream Bloody Gore' emerged Schuldiner found himself
doubling up on bass.
The debut was a landmark in death
metal. The super-fast riffing style of tracks like 'Mutilation'
and 'Zombie Ritual' were soon being deconstructed, examined and
copied in all corners of the world. The relentless drum contribution
of Chris Reifert (later of Autopsy, currently with Abscess) to
such tracks as 'Denial of Life' was also pretty awe-inspiring.
The graphic lyrical imagery of 'Regurgitated Guts' and 'Baptized
in Blood' also took gore appreciation to another level that sadly
only others would really exploit. Yes you guessed it, Death never
really made the commercial breakthrough that their work deserved.
In later years, a more technical
though no less intense style was adopted for such records as 1998's
Megadeth/Dream Theater-like 'The Sound Of Perseverance'. The last
word of that title proved important, and although Chuck developed
a brain tumor that was to prove fatal, he continued to play for
as long as he was able, even releasing an album called 'The Fragile
Art of Existence' with new band Control Denied.
Star fans like Ozzy Osbourne, Napalm
Death, Anthrax and even Dave Grohl all chipped in to help to raise
funds for his treatment. Alas, Schuldiner finally succumbed to
the inevitalbe in December '01, but although his passing generated
little in the way of mainstream coverage, his legacy -and that
of Death- remains undiminished.