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What little more can I possibly add to the legacy of Chuck Schuldiner and Death? Passing well before his time in 2001 at the age of 34 despite the release of 8 brilliant albums (including Control Denied's "The Fragile Art Of Existence") his presence is simply wholesome across the death metal landscape and for as long as metal lives the man's presence will forever be sorely missed.
The final studio release of the Death catalogue, originally out in 1998, is here re-released with a reworked cover, and bonus disc of demo recordings in a similar way to the Control Denied LP recently was. Right the way through from the immense "Scavenger Of Human Sorrow" to the Judas Priest "Painkiller" cover (by some distance the greatest metal cover I've ever heard) every instance bleeds with the sort of technical ingenuity, passion and song-writing panache that cannot be trained in a musician, such is the natural gift that was bestowed on Schuldiner and the group he assembled around him for this release.
Schuldiner's ability to weave riffs of intricate delicacy around each other to form coherent wholes in "Bite The Pain", "Flesh And The Power It Holds" and "Spirit Crusher" tells of a man constantly pushing at the edge of metal's boundaries, full of the spirit that defines the genre we all love. No less stellar is the performance of rhythm guitarist Shannon Hamm, the bass of Scott Clendenin (who upholds Steve DiGiorgio's work magnificently) and especially drummer Richard Christy, who displays the talent to perform complex beats and fills with ease to produce a drumming performance that rivals the best metal has ever offered.
If these sound like flattering words and you've not heard "The Sound Of Perseverance" then don't be put off after 1 or 2, unfulfilling, listens - my first hearing 8/9 years ago was one of nonplussed intrigue; now, this many years down the line, I'm still discovering little gems hidden amongst the deep layers of this work of art. Whether expressing blistering power and serious headbanging demeanour ("Scavenger…") or acute instrumental beauty ("Voice Of The Soul") the range of emotions that Death are able to extract from the instruments remains a credit to their craft and sums up why they remain such a key name in heavy metal history. That no current bands sounds akin to this (although Obscura are coming close) is a testament to the unique route Death took in the creation of numerous classic albums ("Scream Bloody Gore", "Human" and "Symbolic" can arguably be rated just as highly), and it seems somewhat tragically fitting "The Sound Of Perseverance" should be the act's final album. Perseverance personified over a career impossible to be equalled.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net