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Arseny Vorontsov
Arseny Vorontsov

(1988) Death - Leprosy.rarl

In the metal world, few bands come close to being as influential as Death. Formed in 1983, Death would go on to being one of the most influential bands in the death metal genre, a career spanning eighteen years and seven records. The band tragically ended in 2001, with the passing of frontman and mastermind of the band, Chuck Schuldiner, from cancer. In their wake, the band left behind the sonic blueprint for the death metal genre, a genre that continues to thrive and evolve to this day.

(1988) Death - Leprosy.rarl

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But after revisitation, I "get" Leprosy more. It's a transitional record - just like every other Death record after SBG. The thrash influences are intact, and Chuck Schuldiner's growl is still amazing. (My only gripe with later Death is that Schuldiner's voice had considerably thinned out by then.) But Leprosy feels so different from Scream Bloody Gore, no doubt due to the new lineup: Schuldiner + 3/4 of Massacre. Rick Rozz's Kerry King-esque whammy bar divebombs contrast sharply with Schuldiner's more technical solos. Some riffs foreshadow the melodic later records, and Schuldiner's lyrics start dealing with real life death ("Now you're in the real world / Where pain and death are felt") as opposed to the fictional, zombified kind.

The snare sound is awful, and I'm not a fan of that old-school pillowy reverb. But there are loads of killer songs here - "Born Dead," "Left to Die," "Pull the Plug," "Open Casket." Like every other Death record, Leprosy has a definite identity. It's softer than Scream Bloody Gore and not as technical as Spiritual Healing. Ed Repka's cover perfectly fits this atmosphere. And, hey, Dan Swanö likes it: "Personally, I take Leprosy for the only real perfect death metal album." A lesser classic, but a classic nonetheless.

Death was an American death metal band formed in Altamonte Springs, Florida, in 1984 by guitarist and vocalist Chuck Schuldiner. Death is considered to be among the most influential bands in heavy metal music and a pioneering force in death metal. The band's 1987 debut album, Scream Bloody Gore, has been widely regarded as one of the first death metal records, alongside the first records from Possessed and Necrophagia.

Founded in 1984 by Chuck Schuldiner under the original name of Mantas in Altamonte Springs, Florida,[3][4] Death was among the more widely known early pioneers of the death metal sound, along with California's Possessed. Inspired by Nasty Savage, Death was among the first bands in the Florida death metal scene.[5] In the late 80s, the band was both a part of and integral in defining the death metal scene which gained international recognition with the release of albums by a number of area acts.

Together with Kam Lee, and Rick Rozz, Schuldiner started to compose songs that were released on several rehearsal tapes in 1984.[3][4] These tapes, along with the Death by Metal demo, circulated through the tape-trader world, quickly establishing the band's name. In 1984, Schuldiner dissolved Mantas and quickly started a new band under the name Death. Tim Aymar, in an article written in December 2010, states that Chuck Schuldiner renamed the band Death in order to turn his experience of the death of his brother Frank years earlier into "something positive".[6] Its members again included Rick Rozz and Kam Lee. Another demo was released, called Reign of Terror.[4]

Scream Bloody Gore was released in 1987, widely considered a genre template for death metal. The band briefly had a second guitar player, John Hand, but he did not appear on the album (though his photo did). By this time Schuldiner had moved back to Florida, splitting with Reifert who had chosen to remain in California, where he went on to form Autopsy. However, before he moved to Florida, Schuldiner and Reifert recruited Steve Di Giorgio of Sadus and rehearsed for live shows, which never took place.[8] Once back in Florida, Schuldiner teamed up with former bandmate Rick Rozz and two members of Rozz's band Massacre, Terry Butler and Bill Andrews.

In 1993, Reinert and Masvidal left the group to continue with the band Cynic, as they were working on a full-length album at the time. Schuldiner, unable to persuade them otherwise, replaced them with drummer Gene Hoglan of the recently dissolved thrash metal band Dark Angel,[14] and guitarist Andy LaRocque from King Diamond for Individual Thought Patterns. Since LaRocque was obligated to his band, Schuldiner hired a then-unknown Ralph Santolla as touring guitarist. Death was arguably at the peak of their commercial and popular culture success, and the video for the track "The Philosopher" even made it on to an episode of Beavis & Butt-head in 1994 (Beavis also parodies Schuldiner's vocals in a mock 'drive-thru' order of 'tacos, to go!' in death-metal style). Also in 1994, Death abandoned its eight-year relationship with Relativity and signed with Roadrunner Records, their European distributor. For 1995's Symbolic, Santolla and Di Giorgio were exchanged for underground Florida musicians Kelly Conlon and Bobby Koelble. For the Symbolic tour Brian Benson was brought in on bass (Conlon having left the band prior to the tour).

Members of Death have since stayed active as musicians. Gene Hoglan from Dark Angel and Andy LaRocque from King Diamond had already made a name for themselves, with LaRocque continuing to work with King Diamond while Hoglan has done stints with a wide variety of bands including Strapping Young Lad, Old Man's Child, Opeth, Zimmers Hole, Unearth, Pitch Black Forecast, Dethklok, Fear Factory, and most recently, Testament. Paul Masvidal found success with Cynic alongside fellow Death member Sean Reinert, who continue to release albums and tour in the present. Richard Christy went on to gigs with Acheron and Iced Earth before joining The Howard Stern Show, though he has recently resurfaced on the metal scene with Charred Walls of the Damned and guesting on a Crotchduster album. Ralph Santolla has also played with Iced Earth, as well as Sebastian Bach; both are bands which Steve DiGiorgio played in as well. Santolla was in Obituary and he was previously in Deicide. Di Giorgio also played for Testament and is still active with his original band Sadus. Bobby Koelble founded the Orlando rock-funk-Latin fusion group JunkieRush in 2000. He joined the Jazz faculty of the University of Central Florida (UCF) in 2007, and performs and records with The Jazz Professors. James Murphy was also in Testament, formed projects such as Disincarnate, as well as having stints with death metal bands Obituary and Cancer. Murphy was also stricken with a noncancerous brain tumor, for which he received treatment, and, along with Deron Miller of CKY, attempted to organize a Death tribute album. Kam Lee became well known as the frontman and face of the band Massacre, and formed the band Denial Fiend with Terry Butler, who has also found success in Six Feet Under and is currently in Obituary. Lee also continues to perform and record today with numerous underground projects, including Bone Gnawer and The Grotesquery. Scott Clendenin died on March 24, 2015, at the age of 48.[18]

Death is considered to be one of the most influential bands in heavy metal and a pioneering force in death metal.[2] Death is also now recognized as one of the most acclaimed music groups of all time, held in high praise by critics, metal musicians, and fans.[29][30] Scream Bloody Gore is widely regarded as the first death metal album.[31] Music biographer Garry Sharpe-Young considered Death "a genre-breaking band centered upon frontman Chuck Schuldiner" and that the band "would become one of the prime instigators of the death metal movement".[32] However, Schuldiner dismissed such attributions by stating, in an interview with, "I don't think I should take the credits for this death metal stuff. I'm just a guy from a band, and I think Death is a metal band".[33] In Death's later output, the band's music became more technical and melodic, moving to a technical death metal, progressive metal, and melodic death metal style.[34][35][36][37][38] In January 2001, Mahyar Dean, an Iranian musician, wrote Death, a book about Death and Schuldiner, and released it in Iran. The book includes bilingual lyrics and many articles about the band. The book was sent from the site keepers of to Schuldiner, who in his words was "truly blown away and extremely honored by the obvious work and devotion he put into bringing the book to life".[39] A documentary entitled Death by Metal was released in 2016.[40]


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