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DEATH (MANTAS) â€“ DEATH BY METAL (DEMO 1) - 1983
What better for my first review than the first Death (then known as Mantas) and arguably first death metal demo ever? First off, I'll have to admit I'm not the world's biggest death metal fan, so this isn't just a fanboy review. Although, on the other hand, I think Death is amazing. But make no mistake. This review is a far cry from the later Death studio albums. This is no Sound of Perseverance. If you only like Chuckâ€™s later works, stay the fuck away from this. This will castrate you.
I stumbled upon this 100% by accident. I was under the impression I was getting the re-issue put out after the name change, but imagine the smile on my face when I looked the track list. This is the first material of any kind put out by Chuck and it is brutal. This is fucking death metal. The riffs are somewhat generic, but they fucking crush skulls. Kam Lee, the drummer, does most -if not all- of the vocals here. (Word on the street is Chuck does them on Power of Darkness, but the vocals there sound the same to me as the rest of the demo.) Kam is fucking amazing. I don't think the other reviewers here have done him justice. The guy does lower shouts than Chuck, true, but no one mentions the fact this guy FUCKING SCREAMS LIKE A BANSHEE! I mean that in a good way. In Evil Dead for example he goes from grunting/shouting to fucking wailing "EVIL!!! DEAD!!!" in the chorus. It's beautiful. If death metal was beautiful.
Music-wise, this is far from horrible. Kam may not be Gene Hoglan or Richard Christy, but fuck those are two of the best drummers in metal but Kam gets the job done. Chuck is not quite Chuck yet, but as I said, the riffs slay. Unfortunately the solos are pretty impossible to hear given the production. They are just drowned out by Kam's wall of drumming. But perhaps that is a good thing since in the few seconds in which I can distinguish them, it sounds like they are in the Kerry King vein of "solo"-ing. Finally, I don't think there's a bassist on the recording, at least as far as I can tell. The best way to describe the overall sound of this demo is a lesser-produced version of Slayerâ€™s Chemical Warfare with crazier vocals.
Honestly, if this was just a random demo, I'd be more inclined to give this a rating around 55-65. The fact this is 1983 gives it about 10 points, and itâ€™s Death with Kam on vocals gives it real niche value. Two of the tracks here would later be re-recorded for the 1987 debut Scream Bloody Gore, but make no mistake, they annihilate here.
If you can find this, I HIGHLY recommend picking this up. This is worth a listen if only to realize how ground-breaking it is, let alone the fact it's actually decent.