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Simple, but effective - 88%

enigmatech, May 27th, 2011

Sure, the production on this demo sucks. It's muddy as hell, there are very noticable volume changes at random places, it skips, the solos are hard to hear, the drums are hard to hear, (save for the toms, which are pummeling) the vocals are quiet, oh, and did I mention it's staticy? Yeah...this demo is somewhere between 50 to 65% static! Some may be turned off by this rather unfortunate aspect of this significant death metal release, but to me, it gives it at strong, ancient atmosphere. The vocals sound like a zombie chanting eternally in some lost cave somewhere, while the drums sound like the beating winds of hell, and the guitars grind and cruch along, sounding like a continent suddenly broke in two!

But, fear not! The riffs are still discernable! And goddamn, did Chuck Schuldiner have some killers up his sleeve so early in his career! This release focuses mostly on tremelo picked riffing (save for "Reign of Terror", which has a Mercyful Fate vibe to it), which ranges from slightly melodic (the chorus of "Corpsegrinder") to completly and utterly evil ("Slaughterhouse"). As well, this release features one of the three instrumental tracks Death would ever perform, called "Zombie Attack". It opens with an eerie clean guitar riff before a mammoth thrash riff explodes into the song. It's simple but effective.

That's the phrase I'd use to define this album. Simple, but effective. The songs are not filled to the brim with riffs, though the more minimalistic approach gives off a fun vibe to the album that few bands have managed to match in this particular genre. The vocals, performed by Kam Lee, are a far cry from Chuck Schuldiner's guttural, frothing-at-the-mouth gurgles, resembling more or less zombie-like shouts, though they work well with the thrashy vibe of the music and serve as a primitive, yet effective blue-print for today's death metal grunt.

The sole true problem here concerning the music would be the song-writing. It's fairly obvious here that Chuck Schuldiner had not yet become the songwriting genius he would later be, cranking off two, maybe three good, but not very memorable guitar riffs per song, while the drums blast away and the vocals are content in grunting along without consequence into the depths of hell. However, this is not to say that you can't plainly see the band's potential and the genuine emotion that Death has always had, even in this early, early, early release.

I'd suggest this album to Death fanboys only, or to people genuinly interested in how old school death metal evolved into becoming it's own little slice on the pizza of evil. If you like good, polished production in your death metal, definatly stay away from this album and buy some Vital Remains instead!