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The glimmer of Death's scythe now in view. - 87%

hells_unicorn, December 26th, 2011

While still somewhat buried in obscurity by 1986 outside of Florida, within their own little locale Death was definitely making a name for itself by this point, earning their credentials on the road from one venue to the next. In their wake, a massive collection of demos and rehearsals that show a band going by that age old ethic of musicians practice until they get it right, artists practice until they can't get it wrong. But all of this speed infused mayhem had to eventually lead somewhere, and all roads ultimately point to the wicked 1-2 punch that would be "Scream Bloody Gore" and "Leprosy", both of which profited by including songs from the formative, demo crazy era of the band's early days.

"Mutilation" might be considered a tame title when compared to the satiracle, unintentionally funny excesses that were ushered in by Cannibal Corpse, but in the context of its day, it was probably turning plenty of heads, and the music follows suit. Contained on here are 3 songs that would ultimately end up on the band's studio debut (albeit one as a bonus track exclusive to the CD before later reissues came about), and provide much of the high octane, thrash happy goodness with a ghoulish vocal job that would characterize "Scream Bloody Gore". There is a formulaic tendency of introducing things in a creepy, doom-laden manner before hitting the afterburners, and it holds true for all these songs save the title track which goes straight for the jugular and rivals the wildest riff sets ever put together by any extreme thrash outfit.

What ultimately puts this particular demo above all the others is that, as a whole, it's a much more polished effort than anything previously put out. The mixing job is a bit more even-handed, though the bass still tends to struggle for audibility once the thrashing commences, and the high end of the drums still somewhat overshadows things. Chuck's voice has found its edge and pretty closely resembles what would be heard a year later, and the solo work has been cleaned up to the point that it still achieves that chaotic element without sounding like an outright copy of Slayer's approach, and that wicked atmosphere that the band is known for comes to full fruition in the slower sections of "Zombie Ritual", arguably the band's most well known song from this period for its distinctive blend of slower, creepier elements.

While any one of Death's many demos can be seen as consequential from a historical standpoint, this is the one to get if overall quality of sound is the aim. It's basically a rehearsal for what would eventually be the final recording project for all 3 of these songs, along with 9 other lucky candidates that didn't suffer the fate of a number of other worthy songs in being buried forever in the obscurity of pre-1986 underground metal. Finding this in original tape form will be a bitch and a half, so the smarter bets should be placed on an mp3 version.

Very raw - 82%

Mungo, December 3rd, 2006

On this demo you can see the songs coming together into what they would sound like on Death's debut, although with slight differences. The sound of the demo is very raw, as is to be expected, but the downside to this is it can occasionally sound muffled and one has to concentrate more while listening to it to grasp the melodies properly, the main example of this being 'Land of No Return'.

The songs on this demo are nearly the same as they would sound like on Scream Bloody Gore, although there is one exception, and that is 'Zombie Ritual'. The performance seen on this song is faster paced and somewhat more energetic than the one seen on SBG, and as a result it better than the one on Death's debut. The other two are basically same in the tempo and solos, with only very slight differences.

This is a rehearsal of the songs which would appear on the debut, which is primarily the reason for the songs being almost identical to their respective versions on the debut. I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in Death's demos, if they can get around the somewhat muffled sound.