Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

The Sound Of Perfection - 100%

Hames_Jetfield, February 6th, 2021

The last Death album is a real surprise - even against the background of a clearly different "Symbolic"! I will not mention that it was originally planned as the first album of Control Denied (there are rumors that "Symbolic" was supposed to be the first), because everyone knows it very well, but that it clearly breaks with the extreme, this is something definitely more worth mentioning in the context of this "surprise". It's really rare that a band closely associated with such a style would be able to record a masterpiece in a distinctly different style! Of course, this does not mean that Chuck Schuldiner with his Death has softened or recorded something totally inconsistent, because it's still death metal, but this one has become even more complex and diverse. Naturally, I mean the complexity of the whole material, and that's for the simple reason that "The Sound Of Perseverance" is best suited to death metal in style of Atheist or Cynic - so much "jazzy". However, despite the departure from death metal in the traditional sense (i.e. with blasts, wilderness, etc.), Chuck with his Death still exceed a large part of the bands dealing with underground music, the level of expression and the load of emotions almost unmatched.

Well, the songs are a masterpiece by a capital M. Literally each one in turn! The compositions may not be the shortest or the most easily digestible here, but their length and degree of complexity are absolutely justified. A multitude of ideas, techniques, catchy, quite bold melodies, it all exploded here! The number of brilliant patents in them is simply shocking, and yet you cannot talk about exaggeration. "The Sound Of Perseverance" is a music perfectly composed and balanced, still full of very specific playing, but also full of amazing diversions and a unique atmosphere. What's more, all these progressive wonders came out naturally on this album by Death as if the musicians had been sitting in this style almost forever. It's enough to take a closer look at such songs as "Scavanger Of Human Sorrow" or "Flesh And Power It Holds", clearly developed on the basis of different - in relation to each other - motifs, and arranged in such a way that there are no sudden jumps or forced techniques. The other conclusions are the same as above, so I will not list each one in turn, because omitting one of them at this point would be harmful! Everyone is equally shocked with the genius of ideas At the end there was a huge surprise (though how does it sound in the context of the previous songs...). A cover of...Judas Priest! Chosen was well-known "Painkiller", but as for the interpretation that Chuck tried, this cannot be said to be too typical. The performance - paradoxically not much different from the original - makes an extraordinary impression, especially Schuldiner singing in the Halford type, the "wow effect" is solid.

Another advantage is the production of "The Sound...", extremely clear and polished, and at the same time very fleshy and with a huge kick. I mention it for a reason, because the sound perfectly showed what kind of technique the musicians had at the time. I will not discuss the leader, because I have already written about him in previous reviews (however, it's worth paying attention to the much higher voice of Schuldiner). I will focus on the other three accompanying Chuck bandmates. Scott Clendenin's bass stands out (he often gets a "solo" parts), Shannon Hamm's style looks interesting (a bit more subtle compared to Chuck), but the Richard Christy playing style is definitely the most impressive here. With all due respect to the previous drummers, Death has never had such drumming madness! A real show of skill, and at the same time everything fits beautifully with the music. In short: perfect balance.

So there can be only one summary. "The Sound Of Perseverance" is one of the best albums in the output of Chuck Schuldiner, continuing the band's great streak. The music is extremely technical and complex, but no less of a solid power and atmosphere. It's hard to find a better definition of perfection.

Originally on:

They Went Out With A Bang - 80%

DanielG06, January 3rd, 2021

Despite the fact that many fans bash this album, branding it as " a waste of talent" and "flawed", I believe that it's an impressive showcase of technical ability and Death's outstandingly evolved songwriting, and while this record may not be as memorable or groundbreaking as Human or Symbolic, it certainly is a force to be reckoned with in the parameters of progressive death metal. However, this is consequential, as The Sound of Perseverance is by far the most ambitious Death album, it was fairly obvious from the start that it was going to receive a divisive reception. Personally, I think that the progressive twists scattered within this album are, for the most part, great. They perpetrate what Chuck Schuldiner was capable of achieving, and there's no denying that some of these tracks are Death's absolute best - Flesh and the Power it Holds is legendary for its mesmerising instrumental section and unforgettable solo, not to mention the brilliant lyrical content, Spirit Crusher is particularly notable for its half-brutal half-melodic riffs, and the chorus, which is a highlight of the Death discography, whereas my favourite song is Story To Tell, the entire song just flows perfectly and is filled to the brim with inspired riffs, basslines, and a very mellow but powerful tone. Some complain that the guitar tone on this album is too thin, to the point where the solos even sound out of tune, but I disagree. The guitar tones might be quite lacking on the bottom end, but they are cold, atmospheric and vibrant, which matches the overall creepy feel of the writing. The production as a whole is fantastic, the drums are layered and really exfoliate Richard Christy's amazing playing, and the record seems to have a certain layer of fogginess blanketed over it, which might have been an intentional callback to the band's first album, Scream Bloody Gore, which adds a nice touch to both albums' legacies, as the bookend albums of this band's near-perfect discography.

The musicality has been improved a tad since Symbolic, despite not having as many class riffs or memorable moments, this is widely agreed to be Death's most enterprising album. The drums are just ridiculously technical and brilliant in every song, especially during To Forgive Is To Suffer and Scavenger of Human Sorrow, Christy is really at his peak on this record, and he boasts that in every minute, straight from the first 7 seconds of the album you'll realise just how skillful of a drummer he is. Scott Clendenin's bass tone is just as cold as the guitars, and while I think it could have been a bit thicker, he still plays his heart out, and the basslines differ from the guitar riffs noticeably, showing that some thought and effort was put into writing the bass parts. Shannon Hamm, who might be Death's greatest rhythm guitarist, boasts a wide array of gripping riffs, and he was an essential part of the making of this album, his playing is tight and complements Chuck's lead sections flawlessly. Bite the pain is probably the heaviest track from the album, featuring a very chuggy verse riff, with Chuck's disjointed vocal lines that make the verses unusually catchy, and a bizarre chorus that is split into almost 4 sections.

Despite each song having wild instrumentals, the structures throughout the album are surprisingly straightforward, with most of the tracks just being verse, chorus, 2 minute instrumental section, verse, chorus, outro, and although this might leave a sour taste in some listeners' mouths and might come off as pretentious and lazy, it works well, and honestly in most of these songs, the riffs are just so good that the repetition is a good thing. The performance from every player is passionate as all hell, which is evident in the painkiller cover, which I don't really listen to all that often since the original is much better, but it's still a great performance from the entire band. Emphasising more on the ambitiousness of this album, the average track length has almost doubled compared to Death's earlier releases, which is a blessing and a curse. Although I love virtually every track on this record, I do think that some sections tend to drag on for too long, but it's never too redundant to the point where it ruins the song completely (did someone say every Dream Theater song ever written?).

Chuck's vocals on this release have been criticised massively, with even Autothrall, the king of metal reviews himself, making a point that Chuck's growls sound like a little girl whining. Although I can see his point, I definitely do enjoy the vocals, and I don't think that the guttural howl found on Leprosy and such would fit as well with these more melodic, laid back songs. I really enjoyed this album, every song slaps on the whole, the riffs are chilling, the drums are insanely precise but loosely articulated, and it was probably the best way for Chuck to put his band to sleep. I'm just glad that he didn't decide to decapitate the band entirely after the release of Symbolic, which it was rumoured that he was going to. Pick this one up for sure, whether you're a proghead or a brutal death metal fan alike.

A waste of talent - 50%

Gas_Snake, August 3rd, 2020

If I had to use one word to describe this album (and most other albums released by this band), that word would be "frustrating". Frustrating in the amount of different things it has that are both completely awesome and completely terrible; frustrating because their more progressive works can be summed up as "occasional moments of genius drowning in a complete mess"; frustrating due to one man utterly dominating the songwriting process (which is rarely a good idea). Death has an extremely weird evolution of sound where they always kept somehow progressing and regressing at the same time, in the sense that their music kept becoming increasingly more technical, but also increasingly more structurally unsound. This album (and, by extension, Schuldiner's Control Denied project) represents the peak of all of those frustrations, as well as their most divisive output. There are many elements that contribute to this album's status, so an explanation is in order.

The highlight of this album are the riffs. They are stylistically reminiscent of melodic death/thrash metal, and exhibit a great combination of catchiness and technical prowess. Chuck Schuldiner's main strength in songwriting is his amazing sense of melody. No matter if his style is brutal or sugary, technical or straightforward, the man still lays down catchy hook after catchy hook, his riffs and melodies full of conviction. A great example is the first half of "Flesh And The Power That It Holds": a brief technical display goes into a melodic power metal intro, then suddenly makes way for a monstrous thrash riff and continues to slay everything in sight with more riffs than you can count... at least, until the solo comes in.

That is where the compliments end. The solos on this album are utterly terrible, and most of it is the fault of that lead guitar tone. When the guitarists are playing slow-paced "feel" solos or harmonies, it sounds alright, but as soon as they start shredding, or even do a pick scrape or whammy dive, it grates on the ears far more than it has any right to. And every single solo on this album contains several sections like this, so you never get to enjoy any of them to their fullest. As for the rest of the instrumental performances, Richard Christy's drumming doesn't fit into the songs at all. He never makes an effort to keep a steady beat, and instead plays the most technical beats he's capable of, leaving all of the timekeeping to the rhythm guitars. Even when he plays some semblance of a conventional beat, he always feels the need to break it by hitting his cymbals a ridiculous amount of times and turning it into a total mess. The MVP award here has to go to the bass playing of Scott Clenderin - very audible, technical, yet always tasteful and well incorporated into the songs.

But those shortcomings are nothing compared to the big issue, the Achilles heel of every Death release past 1987: the song structures, or rather, lack thereof. This is an issue which started to show itself during Leprosy and has endured all the way throughout the rest of Chuck Schuldiner's career. Every non-instrumental track he's written since then uses the exact same structural arrangement: a selection of riffs is repeated two times in the same order with minimal variation (the most you can hope for is a slightly changed lead break), while the bridge and solo are sandwiched between those repetitions. The glaring problem with this arrangement is that Chuck makes no effort to variate any of it. It's like a leash holding him back, and he can only momentarily break free from it by not including any vocals in a song. And this album suffers far more from it than any of his earlier creations, as the songs are much longer, much more technical, practically begging for some kind of variation. But when it does arrive in the middle sections, it's all wasted on a combination of clueless bass breaks, sudden stop-and-go rhythms (presumably pale imitations of Watchtower) and the hideous soloing mentioned above. Special mention goes to "Bite The Pain", which fills this space with a goddamned metalcore break, complete with all of the cringe that they normally induce.

But the structural problems don't end there. The song structures are also plagued with many disjointed vocal lines that further harm the meaning of the preachy, cringeworthy lyrics (listen to "Story To Tell" for a good example). And the icing on the cake is that the riffs don't even work well with each other. These riffs sound like a collection of different riffs from different songs, hastily stitched together with no attempt to make anything work. This further compounds the biggest issue of his songwriting: the ideas don't develop. They don't have the capacity to gradually transform and progress the song: rather, they just keep being replaced with more ideas and retreating to show themselves once more during the eventual second rep. "Spirit Crusher" has it especially bad. There are good riffs there, even great riffs, but none of them are properly organized. It's just a bunch of promising ideas that come and go, come again and go again, wasting precious space and doing nothing to move the song forward.

The golden nugget here is, of course, "Voice Of The Soul". It's a dual guitar jam where the guys momentarily push all of those things aside and just yank on the feels, their aim being to let out their pent-up emotions and show you that they are still more than capable of kicking ass. And it's beautiful. Whenever I want to drive myself to tears, this piece does so every single time, without fail. For about four glorious minutes, none of those burdens exist, the structure is not bound by any restraints, the screaming sound of the guitars is used to accentuate the feeling, and Chuck is awesome again. And yet, it is still a mere respite from the bigger picture, and it only compounds the frustration from listening to this album.

Now, this would still be a decent album, and it's something that I can still enjoy from time to time... but then it ends on the most blatant "fuck you" of the band's entire career. "Painkiller" is one of the worst cover songs I've ever had the displeasure of hearing - completely unrecognizable from the original. Yes, Chuck does many insanely high shrieks on it, but they all sound like utter dogshit, like he's straining to hit all of the notes. The lower tuning strips the riffs of their energy, Christy's drumming is a complete mess, and the awesometastic solos of the original are all replaced with the same sloppy shredding as the rest of the album. It's also difficult to see this as Chuck testing the waters for his Control Denied project, because that sounds damn near identical to the original material on TSOP. But more on that some other time...

It's quite sad, really. Here is the output of an incredibly talented musician, with many strengths to his songwriting and the ability to gather other great performers around him; and yet as time went on, his music became bogged down with more and more glaring flaws, and all of them culminated on this album. Long before the man himself would contract cancer, his works started to suffer from a sort of musical disease that he succumbed to without much resistance. That is why The Sound Of Perseverance (along with most of Death's other albums) is so frustrating to listen to. There is immense potential contained within it, and yet nothing is done to fully realize it; and seeing as its mastermind lives no more, nothing will be done. This is what it is, this is what it will be.

The Flaws of Perseverance - 62%

Mdrummer24, February 29th, 2020

The Sound Of Perseverance, one of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time. I don't think I need to introduce this band but I will say that this album wasn't originally planned to even exist, Chuck already started the writing process of what was supposed to be Control Denied. But at the moment of signing with Nuclear Blast, the label wanted a last Death album before transitioning to Control Denied, so the majority of songs written were adapted for TSoP. Doing this was completely unnecessary, Symbolic (whilst not perfect) was a great ending to an amazing discography.

With that out of the way, let's talk about the music itself. In this record, Death dives even further in the direction of Symbolic took, with longer tracks and another drastic change in vocals. Chuck now uses a higher pitch voice and isn't really harsh at all. Personally, this is not really an issue. Chuck also completely changed the lineup for this instance, something I'm not so eager about, Richard Christy is a great addition to the band, his playing is pretty technical and but it doesn't feel all over the place. My problem comes with Shannon Hamm, usually the second guitar was a complement to Chuck failed attempt of doing emotional solos that didn't worked well with the rest of the song. Well, in this instance that didn't happen. Solos result in a bunch of notes that don't cause any feeling on the listener, the opposite of Chuck's intent, not even "Voice Of The Soul". A big fan favorite that only serve to expose one of the major weaknesses of this album.

Another detrimental flaw it's the song structure, this doesn't really varies from any other Death album since Leprosy. Most of the songs (excluding Voice Of The Soul) relies on a lazy structure that presents you the main riff, then a "proggy" passage, soulless guitar solos and then recycle the same riffs in the EXACT same order and maybe an outro in the case of "A Moment Of Clarity". This structure worked fine until Symbolic but on The Sound Of Perseverance, you find overall lengthier tracks and this is just repetitive and predictable, also affects the repeatability of the listening.

Production wise, the album sounds like it was recorded inside a tin can, it's just weird but I like it. Sort of... It's actually one of the reasons why the guitar solos fail to deliver. One of the aspects I really appreciate about this album are the riffs, these are memorable and not useless wankery. If you mind the lyrics (I don't) these are just cheesy and dull compared to ITP or Human, there's nothing soul-stirring about them and the topics about the soul emotions just can't get more uninteresting. Just pay attention to the music and don't waste your time reading the booklet, you'll be disappointed.

To sum it up, this album appears to be great but the good drumming and riffs are overshadowed by very few but major flaws. And it's such a shame because this album had potential to be considered a happy ending for such a respected band as Death but it just ruins an amazing discography instead.

A Masterpiece but with things that could be better - 85%

deathvomit70, August 29th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Nuclear Blast

Before fully entering with the elements and factors that I will expose here about this album, I think I need to say that this Death's sound is entirely different from their other releases, so I strongly recommend you, dear reader, that if you start listen to Death from here, maybe you will encounter a different idea about any comments you read on the internet or from another metalheads, so, I think is a good idea that you start listen the old Death and the reasons of that will be explained here in my opinion; and when you're ready, enjoy this awesome album as it should be.

When I discover Death about 10 years ago, I was hooked immediately because the high quality of their sound, Chuck vocals and talent of this "Father of death metal". Also, the moment of listening The Sound of Perseverance finally came and I really think that, at this time, Death was not even a shadow of it was in their first ages, but it can be negated that this production has a very skillful musicians playing their instruments with high accuracy and a lot of superb riffs.

In terms of music quality, the mastering, mixing, recording and that studio stuff was very well done in this one. Compared to the other release, is obviously that they improved exceedingly the quality. Additionally, all the instruments were recorded very well, the guitars, bass and drums can be heard perfectly. I think that maybe the bass could have more presence here but, it is a little element. Also, Chuck was characterized for looking for a very skillful musicians that satisfy his music style and proposals, for that reason, in this case, Richard, Shanon and Scott were the right ones to capture the Chuck's ideas, especially, the high ability of Richard Christy to play the drums, this man is a fucking machine, tempo changes, consistent double bass drum like in "Bite the Pain for example and absolute domain if his instrument. Shannon and Scott are also a very capable musicians and if you ask me, they have done an excellent job on this album too, feeding the album with a perfect sound, characteristic of progressive death metal bands.

At this point, why I say that you need to start listen to older Death's albums, simple, from the beginning, Death was a pure death metal band and I always think that when Death was founded, Chuck was almost a teenager so, from Scream Bloody Gore to this album, you can appreciate the Chuck evolution of his band and point of view about death metal in general, for that reason, I recommend to listen their albums in chronological order, to fully enjoy the evolution of Death and to realize why Death becomes the band that produce The Sound of Perseverance. The changes that they suffer with time and the sound of every album allows you to understand what Chuck wants for his music and why he constantly change the members of the band till reach the sound he wants.

It is true that The Sound of Perseverance is not "pure" death metal and their sound is more progressive, giving to the band a new way to play music separated from Death's original idea. But, this makes The Sound of Perseverance a bad album, not exactly, why? Because Chuck made good music, even if he changes the initial idea of his band, maintaining the line of making death metal in a different way.

But, unfortunately, not all in this album ere good things, Death committed some errors and are things that could be better or even, they could erase for this album, what are those things? First, in this production you can hear the very damaged Chuck's vocals that are nearly compared to black metal singers, giving to the album a different sound that doesn't fill at all. Second, in my opinion, I think that Chuck could do a better job writing the lyrics for this album, although the lyrics have a deep message, if you pay attention to each song lyric, you will realize that are not so deep and coherent. Third, a song like Voice of the Soul (that is a fucking masterpiece, really) could be included as a bonus track or something like that, because you are used to listen fast metal and headbanging riffs from the other release and The Sound of Perseverance is not the exception, for that reason, I think this song shouldn't be on this album as a regular song. And fourth, I have the idea that The Sound of Perseverance shouldn't be released as a Death album, I prefer to listen this one as a Control Denied album, Death finished their career in Symbolic, was not necessary to release another album, especially with Chuck's vocals so damaged at that time but, it can be negated that exceed my expectation and ended up being an awesome release.

To finish, Death always be a must-listen band for all metalheads and it doesn't matter if in the end, Death doesn't like you, is part of the death metal and metal (in general) history, Chuck became a pioneer and left a legacy of what metal is nowadays. I know that this is not their best album, but give it a chance, I know that even if you are more old Death fan, you will enjoy this production. Additionally, I want to recommend the songs that I consider the best ones: Scavenger of Human Sorrow, Spirit Crusher and Flesh and the Power It Holds (my favourite).

Death's worst album - 76%

Iron Wizard, September 17th, 2017

The Sound of Perseverance was my first Death album. I was 15 at the time, with the anatomical and mental maturity of the average 13 year old, and the uplifting, motivational themes of most of these songs struck a resonant chord with me. I listened to this quite a bit, and it was at the time one of the few death metal albums I could tolerate. Little did I know, however, of Death's true masterpieces - Scream Bloody Gore, Human, Individual Thought Patterns, and Symbolic. I deified this album, in a way, and I wrote a draft here heavily praising it. A few years later, let's see what I think of it...

Every band that exists for longer than a decade has a turning point where they stop releasing original classics and begin churning out self-derivative material, copying their own characteristics to appease devoted fans. From what I can tell, the Sound of Perseverance would have been the start of that had Death continued on. Maybe it was just a flop album, but the recycled riffs and pandering lyrical themes firmly tell me otherwise. Both "Scavenger of Human Sorrow" and "Voice of the Soul" (an instrumental which I will further explain later on) reuse riffs from "Out of Touch" from Individual Thought Patterns. Maybe this signals that the masterwork of Death's classic albums was ephemeral; something which had to have a logical conclusion - Symbolic. Instead, Sound of Perseverance perpetuates the same technical death metal sound beyond its farthest extent, rather than taking the band somewhere new.

Lack of originality aside, Death's final album still showcases the talents of the band. Amidst some of the shitty alternative rock inspired melodies that scream "90s", there is the same blistering technicality heard on prior albums. Listen to the way the opener "Scavenger of Human Sorrow" begins with insane drumming and shredding. Also expressed here is Death's softer side, which permeated the brutality in songs like "Crystal Mountain" on the previous album. "Voice of the Soul" is a three and a half minute long instrumental. It consists merely of a beautiful acoustic melody and layered lead guitar. It is somewhat minimalistic in regard to the instruments used, but with only guitars, a lot is accomplished in the way of creating a grandiloquent atmosphere. Easily the best song on the album, there is no understating what the listener will feel in this. Sadly, it is buried in the middle of Death's worst album.

Back on a negative note again, Chuck Schuldiner's vocals have continued their transition from deep growls to higher screams. I really liked his sound on the last album; the high end growls reminded me somewhat of David Vincent on Altars of Madness. They are even higher here, but they sound weak, as if his unfortunate illness was afflicting his voice early on. Maybe it's not his fault that the vocals here aren't up to Death's standard, but in any case they rub me the wrong way with their lack of charismatic aggression. Also lacking in aggression are some of the riffs. My least favorite is that alt rock melody from "Story to Tell". It's too soft for a death metal song, and it borders on melodeath territory to me. Riff wise, this album is really a mixed bag. As a final criticism, the album drags a bit, especially at the beginning and at the end due to its stylistic and thematic redundancy - the songs are very similar, and the lyrics seem to all cater to the same types of people-those who listen to nu-metal.

While The Sound of Perseverance is in no way a bad album, it no longer resonates with me, and I would go as far as to say that it is Death's worst release. That doesn't necessarily mean that the typical fan wouldn't enjoy it, in fact on the contrary. However, understand that this is not classic Death at its finest.

Beautiful, Stunning, Enthralling, Flawless - 100%

WoodlandsThrasher, May 10th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2011, Digital, Relapse Records (Remastered)

The Sound Of Perseverance is possibly the greatest metal album ever made.

Well, I think so.

First and foremost, this is not a death metal album. Sure, it's by Death, a death metal band, but this particular album falls out of the genre. The vocals aren't death metal, the riffs aren't death metal, the writing isn't death metal, the lyrics don't reflect anything remotely death metal... there's even an acoustic instrumental. Whereas all of Death's later albums are death metal first with elements of progressive metal (some with more prog than others), TSOP is entirely a progressive metal album, nothing more and nothing less. Now, is this something like Risk by Megadeth? No, because whereas Risk is a blatant cash-grab uninspired by a muddy cess of anti-creativity, TSOP shows that a band doesn't have to stay within its genre field to be amazing.

However, the music itself is downright beautiful. This is easily the most emotional and soul-driven Death album. Every single riff on this album is filled with emotion and passion. Chuck Schuldiner originally wanted to PULL THE PLUG on the band Death and intended Symbolic to be his final album before moving onto his solo project, Control Denied. The label said they would only produce his solo band if he made one more Death album, but also said he was able to do whatever he wanted with the album as long as it had the Death name on it. Tired of the same old boring death metal, Chuck took the opportunity to go completely nuts, and this album shows. So much creativity and originality went into this album that it is truly one of a kind. One moment, you're soaring above the celestial plain, the next you're being thrown into a mosh pit with an insane neckbreaker riff, and then you'll find yourself on the verge of tears with some moments that sound almost nostalgic and personal. Songs like "The Flesh and the Power It Holds" and "Scavenger Of Human Sorrow" are absolute epics that scale many different riffs, time signatures, and emotions in the same way the galaxy spans many different planets and solar systems. Tracks like "Bite The Pain" kick your ass into shape with sudden tempo-changing riffs that smash you in the face like a hammer, while "Painkiller" is what a T-80 tank with a rocket jet engine would sound like if it were in metal form. There's even a slight jazzy influence painted across the entire album, most prominent on tracks like the opener and "To Forgive Is To Suffer", and the jazz fusion mixes surprisingly well with blistering metal production and riffs to create some of the catchiest riffs known to mankind.

The musicianship is nothing short of incredible. Drummer Richard Christy admitted that, because he was a huge fanboy of Chuck Schuldiner and wanted to impress him as much as possible, he basically did one giant drum solo throughout the entire album. There isn't a single second where Christy isn't going absolutely insane on his drum kit, while also masterfully maintaining sudden time signature changes with stunning precision. Bassist Scott Clendenin also rips away on his fretless bass and has many solo moments, like on "Spirit Crusher" and "A Story To Tell". The guitars steal the show here, as Chuck and Shannon Hamm, who has a very similar style to Chuck that almost can't be distinguished from each other, bleed their entire sous into their strings, going less for typical chugs and open E-string thrashers and more akin to something you'd write for a fallen friend. The solo to "A Moment Of Clarity" sounds akin to the music form of climbing the mountain on the cover of the album, and it's probably one of the greatest solos ever written. Above anything else though is Chuck Schuldiner's vocals. Instead of your basic low death metal growl, Chuck decided, for whatever reason, to experiment with a high pitched black metal screech. These vocals are amazing and blend very well with the music, also adding onto the one-of-a-kind sound. The vocal technique sounds as if any normal human being would've either spit blood into a glass cup after each verse or had some sort of serious condition, and it's beautiful.

It's clear that this album may go over some heads. One reviewer on this site even claimed the opener, "Scavenger Of Human Sorrow", began with "...a beat you would find on some urban gangsta rap album..." and I respect opinions, but something like that is flat out wrong. I wasn't aware that most urban gangsta rap beats composed of wild drum solos written in the 9/8 time signature, as the opening to that song is. Those who are looking for death metal will most likely be perturbed by TSOP, as there is no death metal to be found here. If you want a heavy-as-hell metal album that manages to be unique and unpredictable, you've found the right album. I discovered this album as an 8th grader, sitting on the edge of my bed, listening to Pandora shuffle when the opener came onto the playlist. I've been in love ever since.

The Sound of Perseverance - 100%

Man17Xa, March 8th, 2017

This is probably my favorite album of all time. It has everything you could want in a metal album, speed, heaviness, melody, aggression, variety, and fantastic musicianship. This was the third Death album I had ever listened too, and this one totally blew me away.

The guitar is probably the highlight of the album, it's just fucking fantastic. From the incredible mid-paced riffs in the opener to the fast and thrashy speed of "To Forgive is to Suffer" to the incredible instrumental "Voice of the Soul", this album has mind blowing riffs throughout. I will say that every song on this album has catchy and memorable riffs. It's full of those riffs where you can't just have it as background noise, it commands your attention while you sit there in awe of the orgasmic sounds pumping through your speakers. The rest of the album is great, but you can really tell just how amazing of a guitar player Schuldiner really was. The highlight of this album as far as the guitar goes is for sure Voice of the Soul, a slow ballad that's utterly amazing. The drumming simply it's well done and interesting, very atypical for death metal. It's very progressive and uses techniques that aren't common in death metal. It's almost jazzy, it's hard to describe. The same goes for the song structure of this whole album, it's varied and constantly changing, you've definitely got some of the standard death metal beats in it, but for the most part it's very original. There are a few very nice drum solos scattered around the album that keep things interesting.

"Scavenger of Human Sorrow" starts off with Christy beating the piss out of his drums. Then turns into some complex riffing, and then you know it's death due to Chuck's vocals, that have improved on this disc. The drumming is spectacular and the guitars are accurate as hell. This song will pump up any metalhead. One of the best songs. "Bite the Pain" gives me the fucking chills. Such a great song I can't explain it in mere words. Chucks lyrics are genuine as per usual on this song, speaking of wounds inside someone soul. "Flesh and The Power It Holds", for some reason this song reminds me of how sad Chucks death was for his fans. It feels like a very sorrowful song, and whenever I heard this one I can't help but think that Chuck wrote this song for someone he cared for dearly. “Painkiller” is a Judas Priest cover that takes off right away with a nice drum intro. They do a great job with the cover although it's hard to duplicate Halford's vocals, Chucks gives it his all.

Chuck's vocals are fucking sweet. At some point Chuck decided to change his style a bit, he moves from the guttural vocals to a more high-pitched, shrieking. It's still great though, perfect for this albums style. The lyrics are about spiritual things though, unlike Death's early albums, they don't talk about violence and gore. That can be a bad thing for some people I guess, but again, I think it really fits the music on the album. Going on about gore and death just wouldn't work with the overall mood of the album. It's too deep and thoughtful.

I love this album, other than the bass being too low I can't find anything wrong with it at all. It is full of memorable riffs, and eargasms are plentiful. There is not one dry spot or boring moment in the entire album. People may be turned off by Chuck's different vocal style, but trust me on this you will grow to accept and love it. I would buy this album again in a heartbeat and I've bought it for a few friends. It's just that fucking good. It isn't one of albums you buy to have on in the background, it's one that you listen to with full attention.

Scavenger Of Human Listening Pleasure - 95%

Caleb9000, February 2nd, 2016

During the late 1990s, Death's frontman Chuck Schuldiner was focusing deeply on making sure that his idea of being in a progressive/power metal band would become a reality (this band would be called Control Denied). This was going along rather swimmingly for him. However, the fans were craving another release by Death (and for obvious reasons). Chuck took kindly to this idea and got to work on one more album for them before they went on hiatus. He didn't really have to do a whole lot of extra work, either. Some of the songs on this album were meant to be on the debut album from Control Denied, so he "Deatheized" them. Then he gathered Richard Christy on the drums, Scott Clendenin on the bass and Shannon Hamm on the other guitar. This is the lineup that recorded the last album under Death's name, "The Sound Of Perseverance".

While not being the best album that Death released, it manages to be extraordinarily high up on the food chain (or in this case, the metal chain) and it hasn't been forgotten by anybody. This is probably Death's most melodic release to date while still managing to have a good amount of energy. It is still raw power, just raw power with a shitload of complexity and some melody as well. It fits splendidly well in the end. Actually, It is a bit more on melodic during the first half of the album and it gets more abrasive towards the end. This trait doesn't exactly apply to every track of the album. The first track, "Scavenger Of Human Sorrow" was actually one of the most abrasive songs on the album. This really starts on track 2, "Bite The Pain". The eighth track, "A Moment Of Clarity" was the most abrasive song on the album. I remember when I heard the opening riff on that song and it just made me think "Well THIS could solve my problems with waking up in the morning". Sure, it's one of the slower songs but that doesn't mean that it's a wimpy track. Then there's the final track, "Painkiller" (originally by Judas Priest), which is less aggressive, but I can't get mad at that song. But the one problem with it is the solos. They're good, but not nearly as nicely done as the original and they're actually not even the same solos. The other thing about this song that I want to mention is the fact that this is the first song where Chuck used clean vocals. He only did it for about 30 seconds overall, but it was nice to hear him experiment because that's what he's generally good at.

My highlights on the album include "Scavenger of Human Sorrow", with extremely relatable lyrics and some masterful guitar work. It's one of the heaviest songs on the album. Not quite as heavy as the early days, but this isn't really a death metal album. Another is "Spirit Crusher", which is one of the most varied songs on the record. It contains a shitload of tempo-changes, however somehow, it is able to prevent itself from feeling like a scattered mess like that of a bum in someone else's basement. It contains some excellent riffage and it has some very metaphorical lyrics that fit the song. Another highlight is track 5, "Flesh and the Power It Holds", where the level of technicality on the album is at one of its absolute highest points. Lyrics are top notch as well. The opening riff is a bit odd. But it's strangely appropriate. The last two tracks that I wish to mention are "To Forgive Is to Suffer" with a very clean song structure and lyrics that touch on a subject that I haven't heard anyone else in music explore and I've been listening to music for a long time: being too nice to people who are flat out douchebags. If you keep act like their actions are not in some way doing harm to anyone or anything, they will continue to do it and ruin happiness. The last track is the cover of "Painkiller". Like I've said before, it may not be quite as good as the original version by Judas Priest, but it still stands out with the rest of the highlights on this album (I am not saying that it is the best song on the album).

My Favorite song on the album is "Voice Of The Soul". I'm not entirely sure how to generally classify it, but I know that it is a masterpiece. It blends progressive rock, Spanish folk and ambient music to make a dark, as well as eerily soothing sound. It has four sections of music and each one catches your ear, especially the second one. The acoustic melody has a very (for lack of better word) flowing sound and the lead has this as well, but with a more technical and sophisticated sound. No drums, no bass, no vocals, just guitar. It is actually a ballad, which works splendidly. Probably the best song that Death has ever forged.

Practically every aspect of this album is sufficient, but my favorite out of it all is the guitar work. Chuck and Shannon give riffs and solos that are almost as powerful as they are technical. You can tell that they both knew what they were doing when they went into the studio to record this album. It manages to run strong throughout the album and never at any point weaken. Everything else is good About this album as well. There is only one tiny problem: Chuck's voice is not nearly as charismatic as it was on the last album. Come to think of it, it can actually get kind of annoying. This luckily doesn't get in the way too much at all.

This is some of the best work that Death has ever released (The best being "Symbolic"). It isn't one of those albums that you forget about, musically. You can't remember everything it contains, but that's practically impossible. It is an album where you can marvel and greatly appreciate due to the immensely sufficient and sophisticated technicality that is heard on it. This is an album that I greatly recommend to fans of progressive metal, thrash metal and anyone who isn't too close-minded to not get past the guttural vocals. I for one love it a lot. R.I.P. Chuck Schuldiner:

Death's Finest Moment - 100%

TimJohns, November 19th, 2015

The Sound of Perseverance is a masterpiece that deserves all of the praise in the world. Not only is this Chuck Schuldiner's unsurpassed work, it also combines all of the distinct and important elements from Death's previous and near perfect albums such as Human, Individual Thought Patterns and Symbolic. The chaotic and improvised drum fill by Richard Christy that kicks off the opening track "Scavenger of Human Sorrow" is a preview of the musical talent, impressiveness, originality and diversity that is to come later in the album. Every track seems to feed off the other's energy and ferocity in an effortless manner. The anger and bitterness felt on the third track "Spirit Crusher" depicts a sense of betrayal and vengeance in Chuck's lyrics and shrieking vocals. Definitely one of the pinnacle tracks of the album, the somber and insanely catchy bass line along with the tasteful and complex drum fills make "Spirit Crusher" an instant classic.

As the album progresses, a casual listener is able to witness how Chuck Schuldiner's musicianship, songwriting and guitar solos have reached the peak of his outstanding musical career. Furthermore, Chuck did not only use the musical elements that made Human, Individual Thought Patterns and Symbolic so great, he was able to expand on the raw energy and melody on those albums to make Death's most accomplished and diverse work to date. The album also features "Voice of the Soul" an absolutely gorgeous yet sorrowful instrumentation that showcases the perfect balance between two harmonizing guitar solo and an acoustic ballad. The musicianship was so exquisite on "The Sound of Perseverance" that Chuck recruited rhythm guitarist Shannon Hamm and drummer Richard Christy to perform on his more melodic side project Control Denied. In the case of Death's later albums like Human, Individual Though Patterns and Symbolic, this was definitely a breakthrough album for Shannon Hamm, Scott Clendenin and Richard Christy whom became more renowned musicians in the metal community afterwards.

While there are many spectacular moments on "The Sound of Perseverance", the lengthy duel of solos on "A Moment of Clarity" between Schuldiner and Hamm demonstrate another instance where Chuck is able to showcase both his and Shannon Hamm's guitar soloing skills. There have been numerous moments on Death albums where the rhythm guitarist shares the spotlight with Chuck, such as Rick Rozz, Paul Masvidal, Andy LaRocque and Bobby Koelble. The finale of this masterpiece is an excellent cover of Judas Priest's "Painkiller" and is a tribute that the metal legends would definitely be proud of. With Chuck being a huge fan of Judas Priest, one can hear the unquestionable passion while he is shrieking the verses: "This is the painkiller!" Chuck's vocals have also significantly evolved since his earlier work and have become a lot more higher pitched but at the same time, they fit in perfectly with the sound.

As a whole, Death are an outstanding and legendary band whose legacy is unparalleled in the metal community. They released many excellent and highly memorable albums throughout their existence. The Sound of Perseverance is the ideal metal masterpiece and the perfect way to seal Chuck's legacy, one can only wonder which musical directions Chuck would have gone if he were still with us today. As an outstanding musician and human being who gave metalheads a masterpiece that will be remembered for many years to come.

The Sound of Failure - 3%

Napalm_Satan, October 21st, 2015
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Nuclear Blast

Goddamn this album sucks! The last in line of Death's 'intelligent, progressive and technical' latter era (think progressive wankery with the occasional riff and an outer coating of 'death metal influences'), it represents the nadir of the band and any major death metal act (barring Illud Divinum Insanus or Promise). Never have I heard such a degenerate and irritating piece of shit from such a notable and influential band, and gladly never again, because no one was dumb enough to emulate what the fuck goes on during this album. Literally every facet of it is absolute garbage - whether it be confused, wanking or annoying garbage, all shit smells the same when it is in a massive goddamn heap.

First, let’s get the most obvious thing out of the way - the production is pretty godawful. Normally a thin guitar tone isn't bad in my books; it makes the riffs sharper as far as I am concerned. Here though, they sound... screechy and powerless. When they play anything at all it doesn't sound good or right. Several melodies throughout this album almost seem out of tune because of them, and thus the album becomes very unappealing to listen to. The drums are surprisingly thin and hollow, particularly the metallic snare. In fact, the whole album sounds very 'empty' and hollow on the whole, lacking any sort of sonic punch at all. On the whole, this is a pretty poor production job, but credit where credit is due - the pronounced bass guitar and thundering double bass are a massive plus.

When it comes to technical performance, things are a bit mixed. Chuck's riffs are completely unmemorable and on the whole just kind of suck. They are neither melodic nor aggressive, they aren't particularly technically accomplished either. I don't care how progressive or technical everything else appears to be, metal is all about the riffs, and these are just filler riffs. They sound like they are straddling a line between the progressive power metal of Chuck's future project Control Denied and the 'death metal' of the previous 3 albums, albeit in a really confused and forced fashion. It sounds like Chuck wants nothing to do with Death or death metal at all, but is being aggressive for the sake of it. It is completely contrived and shite, and someone like Chuck could have done better. By contrast, Richard Christy's drumming and Scott Clendenin's bass is technically very impressive. This album is full of excellent, reflective bass breaks and drumming that tinkers with odd patterns and shows a strong sense of variation.

And now, we come to this album's main fucking flaw. Chuck... seriously... just SHUT THE FUCK UP!. If he couldn't growl with some fucking BALLS, WHY did he do it at all? His 'death growls' are some of the most bitchy, cat-like versions of the vocal style I have ever heard. As autothrall said, they sound 'like a little girl'. Ooh, just what I always wanted, a grown man screaming like a little girl on a 'death metal' album! They flip-flop between being utterly comical during some of the higher pitched moments, are irritating the rest of the time, and in one instance just make me sad (you know which song I am talking about...). They are not aggressive at all, they aren't threatening, and they have nothing going for them as a vocal style. This also furthers my point of this album straddling the divide between Control Denied and older Death - they are dirtied high pitched power/prog vocals, attempting to maintain a façade of aggression while also trying to fulfill the role of strong power metal vocals. IT DOESN'T WORK AT ALL.

However, as I have stated before, technicality is all for naught when it all coalesces into a goddamn MESS. Nothing in these songs fit together right at all, and are on the whole very awkward to listen to. One needn't look further than the first track to find these flaws. Nothing flows at all; the songs are rhythmically disjointed where even the riffs don't flow into one another. The song just drops away to leave one of the excellent, though completely random and misplaced, bass break. The drums actually don't help at all. While they are highly interesting on their own, they don't fit into the songs either, as they never actually keep a beat. They are just machine-gunned all over the songs, with no regard for timing or structure, and throw the songs off kilter. Technicality is great, especially in the drums, but if the goddamn drummer can't keep a steady beat or keep time, what is the point? A drum machine would have done a better job than this guy.

Needless to say therefore, the songwriting is pretty bad. The songs suffer from having too many ideas in too short a space of time, and thus come across as fragmented, as each individual section never has time to get going or really develop, before another unrelated idea comes stomping all over it. Oh, and this album is mired in its wankery. Whether it be the squeaky, shite solos or the drumming, this album noodles even more than any of its predecessors, i.e: it noodles way too much. These songs technically progress, but in such a juddering and haphazard fashion that they don't really feel as though they go anywhere at all.

Suffice to say, 'Voice of the Soul' is the only good thing about this album, as it has no vocals. It lacks the rhythmic retardation that the rest of this album suffers from, as well as the incessant wankery. However, due to its late position in the album, it does little to nurse the enormous sonic wound this album leaves, even if the effort is appreciated. A comforting respite from the horrific slaughter of all things musical, if you will. Well, that is the best track... how about the worst? You saw it coming... Chuck. Leave my fucking favourite bands ALONE. The Judas Priest cover tacked on the end of this thing doesn't really do anything to the original, apart from butcher the opening with some terrible sweep picking, neuter the song with the shite production, and then sodomise it with Chuck's kitten screams and the sloppy, wanking soloing that replaces the Tipton/Downing melodic glory of old. This is the song that depresses me with the vocals by the way, in case you couldn't work that one out.

So, uh yeah. This apparently is a masterpiece, highly rated by the mainstream. This juddering, screechy, overly noodling and pretentious pile of dog shit is some sort of masterpiece of this band and all of metal. That is more of a mainstream perception, and this tends to divide opinions a bit more here. Maybe I am missing something, but I can't see how anyone can like this at all. It didn't influence anything good, it isn't good on its own terms, it isn't even good by the standards of the band. Those that do like this aren't wrong, but this agrees with me about as much as some ipecac syrup agrees with me - i.e: it just doesn't. AT ALL.

Now, time to be serious for a moment. I don't hate Chuck Schuldiner, or Death. I know how vastly influential the band are on the genre. Scream Bloody Gore is one of my favourite albums of all time. Chuck was an inimitable figure in metal, and I respect him endlessly for his early contributions to death metal. His early work was amazing, not his Human and on stuff. Let us all remember him for his zombie rituals, not the loosely cobbled together, aborted messes that are the 'intelligent' Death.

R.I.P. Chuck Schuldiner (13th May 1967 - 13th December 2001)
R.I.P. Scott Clendenin (17th January 1968 - 24th March 2015)


descant89, March 29th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Nuclear Blast

The Sound Of Perseverance is the reason why the frontman Chuck Schuldiner should be considered as the Jimi Hendrix of death metal. The solos are outstanding and nothing can compare: Chuck's guitar can literally talk, period. It's like sharp and warm steel shredding your soul to pieces. Everything about this album is a milestone in its own way: right from the start you will get blown away by the surreal and never-before-heard drumming and the tightest riffage ever. All the album is enhanced by an outstanding, unforgettable, gloomy but vibrant bass and one of the best screaming you can possibly find in death. It's the turning point of metal, it's the peak of the genre and every single album from that point on has to confront with this monolith. Most of the times, it's better to ignore it cause it's something so rich and complex that you'd have better luck trying becoming a book writer: too bad the lyrics kick as much ass and are just as brilliant as the rest.

It's technical death metal and every musician show off insane skills in each track but don't expect crazy and convoluted song patterns; it is in fact, in some way, rather simple in structure, especially if compared to more modern albums. The jazz influence is there and you're sure to feel it as much as the progressive's but the songs are kind of linear: in other words, the guys don't overdo it with weird time signatures or choppy riffs so expect solid and mostly straightforward songs. It's hard to pick highlights cause there are no weak tracks, no fillers, you never have the impression that a song is going adrift: you just have to pick your favorite among eight steel masterpieces enriched by one of the best and craziest covers ever made by any band: Judas Priest's Painkiller.

So, is it perfect? No, it's not and I'll tell you why but keep in mind that this album's value goes beyond any criticism cause it threw so many new and polished things on the table of metal that saying anything remotely bad about it is nit-picking. First of all, as much as the singing is top-notch and well-suited it is sometimes somewhat weaker than the lower, thicker scream we were accustomed to in the previous entries of the discography: switching occasionally to an heavier scream could have been a better choice. Secondly, the verse-chorus form can get tiresome considering that this album could have thrown in awesome outros in the cauldron but that's probably just me being eager. Other than that, trying to find more flaws is a real task. If I really, really had to pick the lowest ranked song I'd say "To Forgive is To Suffer" cause after six songs that add each something unique to the game, it comes as a "standard" which, I admit, is kind of paradoxical. It's like they defined said standard and "To Forgive" is the encore to it.

I know I've rocketed your expectations to the moon but every word in this review is carefully weighted and, as much as it is opinion based, I really think that if you are a metal fan of any kind you will agree if I simply say that "The Sound Of Perseverance" is special and a must-have. Everything that made and will make metal great, triumphs in this album.

Among the best - 100%

Superreallycool, October 7th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2000, 12" vinyl, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Picture disc, Repress)

Few bands have perfect discographies. Death is one of those bands. All of their albums are awesome, and each one pushed death metal into new territories. Chuck and crew always were one step ahead of their competition, and this album is no exception, as they take things to a new level of complexity.

From the beginning, the drum intro of "Scavenger of Human Sorrow", you know this is going to be a good album. When the lead guitar kicks in, you know this will be something more than just a good album. Finally, Chucks vocals come in, and you finally realize what kind of awesome quality you're in for on this disk. With Chuck's songwriting talent in full flight, and the extremely talented band working at full force, there isn't a moment here that feels wasted.

This album is even more progressive than the last, and this is both its biggest strength in terms of quality, and what makes the album matter. This proved just HOW progressive death metal could get and still be good. With each album, Death got more progressive, but here they take it as far as perhaps possible. This progressiveness works everywhere on this LP, but the songs "Spirit Crusher", "Flesh and the Power it Holds", and "Story to Tell" are pure magic, mostly due to their progressive tendencies.

This is an album that draws from a creative pool, filled with Watchtower, Atheist, and Cynic, but is still 100%, unadulterated Death. There is no way to confuse this album for someone else's. If you have heard Death before, you'll be able to tell who's album this is. For an album to so clearly build off other bands work, yet have an identity completely its own is quite rare. No one can truly imitate Death. This is what makes Death so... them, their sound has been copied, but never reproduced at anywhere near the quality of what the band themselves made.

This is an album that requires your full attention to really appreciate. Even the instrumental "Voice of the Soul" can't fully be understood unless the listener is dedicated to listening to it. Few Death metal vocalist can sound as evil as Chuck, yet still be understandable. Being one of the few death metal bands where a person can know what is being said without having to look at a lyric sheet is a huge bonus, this also makes claims that no one can understand death metal lyrics moot for this record. This also means that you can focus on the music and still know the lyrics, allowing you to appreciate both the music and the lyrics, something quite special.

I feel a whole paragraph is needed to honor the greatest cover ever, Death's cover of Judas Priest's Painkiller. What can be said about this cover that hasn't been said by so many before me. It has Chuck's best vocal performance, kicking off with a scream, who's qualities can be used to describe the rest of the songs vocals, that is equally death metal as it is power metal. Just as beautiful as it is raspy. Chuck screeches his way though this song, and I think it would make Rob Halford proud. Not to mention the rest of the band does a great job with the music, it is both faster, heavier, and ever so slightly different so it doesn't just seem like a redone version of the song, it almost feels like a different song entirely. Guitarist Shannon Hamm, bassist Scott Clendenin, and drummer Richard Christy (of course with Chuck) form what is without a doubt the single best line up of Death, and one of the most technically skilled line ups found in any band ever.

I think if any single person was responsible for the explosion of death metal during the 90's, Evil Chuck (R.I.P.) would be as good an answer as any. His beyond impressive vocal skills, and his godlike guitar abilities made Death a band impossible to match. As I am 15, I never got the chance to see Death live, but the YouTube videos I've seen of their performances were quite impressive. Few bands this technical can actually play the stuff they write well live, but Death could. This paired with his unrivaled songwriting talent made Death, and death metal, a force to be reckoned with. Their complexity and intellectual lyrics (should have) put to rest claims of metal being the musical choice of imbeciles.

This is an album fans of Spastic Ink will like just as much as fans of Cannibal Corpse will like, assuming they have some appreciation for the other bands sub-genre. This is Death at their best. This is death metal at its best. This is a metal classic in every way, and is a necessary purchase. If you call yourself a fan of extreme metal, you can't go though your life and not have heard this album at least once, and I would find it hard to believe if you didn't love every second of this awesome, awesome album.

A fitting end to a perfect four album stretch - 94%

psychosisholocausto, February 23rd, 2013

The final chapter in Death's story was a fitting closure to the discography. All of the elements from each album had been stacking up, and every album had brought something completely new and fresh to the table. Scream Bloody Gore had the bludgeoning speed, Leprosy had the refined feel, Spiritual Healing brought the more polished production, Human had the aggression, Individual Thought Patterns brought the more insightful side of Death's lyrics, and Symbolic perfected the progressive nature. By the time of The Sound Of Perseverance, Death metal was a very different band. They had shed their days of brutal death metal, and replaced it with a Progressive styling of death metal, in which Chuck shrieks his lungs out instead of the growl he had on the early releases. And, by some divine miracle, Death still had an incredible amount of integrity to their music.

Their final release contained 8 original songs and a cover, each of which contains that signature sound that only Death could invoke. Starting with the cover, Painkiller was originally a Judas Priest classic, that Chuck decided to cover, and it is done flawlessly. Along with Crystal Mountain, this was my introduction to Death, and is a great song. The drums are very noticeable on this album, having the rattle feel to them that Saint Anger bastardized. However, on here, they are not only tolerable, but sound fantastic, and are coupled marvelously with the incredible drum patterns found throughout the album.

Opener Scavenger Of Human Sorrow somehow manages to be one of the most brutally heavy, lightning fast intense songs ever recorded, despite clocking in at just under 7 minutes. This song contains some face melting guitar work, drumming that could only have been produced by the devil himself, and bass work that is nearly flawless. Chuck sounds utterly demonic on this song, and this will continue through the rest of the album. He took the high pitched styling of his growls from the previous album, Symbolic, and makes his voice even more insane, and utterly unique. This, in my opinion, is Chuck Schuldiner's finest vocal performance by quite some way. His voice drips emotion and rage, despite the fact he is clearly straining his throat to hit some of the notes found throughout this album. The most jaw dropping thing about the vocals is the fact that they still retain that defining death metal feel despite being the complete opposite of traditional death metal vocals, which is a testament to just how good Chuck was.

My personal favourite Death song ever, Flesh And The Power It Holds, is found on this album, lasting nearly 8 and a half minutes and never failing to flatten the listener. This song, along with the album, is a rare case in which it manages to give the listener something completely fresh every time. There is always something amazing that evaded the listener before, and that truly is marvelous. The stop-start solo is utterly incredible, and the blisteringly fast riffs are written so well that very few songs could ever dream of coming close to them. The lyrics for this song are extremely well written, containing moments of pure genius such as "Passion is a poison laced with pleasure bitter sweet". Cryptic and yet perfectly written, the lyrics to this song are some of the best found in death metal.

Voice Of The Soul is the shortest song on the album, at 3:43, and serves as the perfect interlude between Flesh and The Power It Holds and To Forgive Is To Suffer, with some awesome acoustic work, emotional soloing and an atmosphere that no other death metal song would ever come within touching distance of. The mood of this song is one of utter despair, and ties in with the themes of the album absolutely perfectly. Sometimes in music, there are instrumentals that feel as though they need vocals and lyrics to tell their story. Not Voice Of The Soul, however, this song is a classic as it is, and the music speaks so much without the need of any vocal work.

The drum solo that opens To Forgive Is To Suffer is nothing short of breath taking, and the riffs that follow this have so much talent behind them that it is impossible to ignore. The vocals from Chuck found on this song are some of the best I can honestly recall hearing from any vocalist ever. Chuck manages to get so much hate behind his vocals that it does not matter what lyrics he spews out, as the point is always made. A Moment Of Clarity is the final original song off of the album, and the technical guitars at work on this song are a joy to behold. This is how metal music should be written, with a supreme amount of confidence echoing off of every note, so that the listener knows the band who have written it does not fuck around. The progression at work on this song is something completely out of this world, being utterly flawless.

The bass work is something to note throughout this album, being more than audible, and used as fills to progress the songs into their next section, such as in the opener and Flesh And The Power It Holds. Unlike some albums where the bass work is just there in the back ground, it is hard to imagine the Sound Of Perseverance without Scott Clendenin's incessant thumping throughout. The same can be said of the extremely insightful lyrics, being some of the finest out there. The lyrics on this album may well rival some of Iron Maiden's best moments, with songs such as Story To Tell, A Moment Of Clarity, Flesh And The Power It Holds and Bite The Pain painting such canvases of warped social commentary that only Chuck could create, whilst being extremely cryptic in places.

The only remote criticism that can be found of this album is the fact that the cover of Painkiller was not completely necessary. This is not to say that it is a poor cover, nor that it lets the album leave on a poor note by any means, as the actual cover is utterly stellar. It is the fact that Death did not need to record a cover, as the 8 songs they already had were jaw dropping enough as it was. However, the Painkiller cover was a homage to one of Chuck's primary influences, and was significantly different in sound from the original, and therefore this is no real down side to the album at all.

This album was the fitting swan song for Chuck, being near faultless on every single level. This is a very technical, well written piece of progressive death metal that needs no clean vocals and constant acoustic guitars to progress from segment to segment and convey simultaneous feelings of loss, hate, anger and despair all at once such as other bands in the genre. This really is one of the most amazing albums ever recorded, and really is in a class of albums that only a few others, including some of Death's own albums, can ever dream of being on the same level as.

Schuldiner never disappoints!!! - 95%

606thecliff, October 1st, 2012

While their are divisions among fans of Death as to which period of Death they like, I am one of those who loves all Death albums and is able to appreciate each one for their different sound. This album seems to focus less on the technical aspects of albums such as Human and Individual Thought Patterns and focuses more on the melody as was the direction on Symbolic. Now onto what makes this album so excellent.

Firstly there are no filler songs on this album to be found. Starting with Scavenger of Human Sorrow and ending with an excellent cover of Painkiller, this album is yet another masterpiece album in the Death discography and unfortunately the last. The cover of Painkiller also features what I would call the most amazing scream of all time, the vocals sound a little forced but overall epic. This album is melodic featuring many great riffs, amazing drumming and some great sounding bass lines.

The drums are a major standout point on this album. On drums is Richard Christy giving one of the best drum performances on an album in metal history. He plays with style and effectively makes every second of every song tasteful yet technical. I really love how he does the drums in Scavenger of Human Sorrow.

Now for the vocals, the vocals are very high pitched and almost sounds like Schuldiner is straining himself to make this last Death album as if he knew what would happen in a few years. While I personally prefer his vocals on Spiritual Healing to Individual Thought Patterns, these vocals fit right in with the rest of the music.

As for the bass, well its audible and manages to add a lot to the music, especially on Spirit Crusher. And me as a bass player, I like it when I can hear the bass very well. Another thing to love about the bass is that it doesn't just follow the guitar or have a very simple beat like the majority of what is put out the radio, it manages to have its own identity while following the guitar at times when it would flow best.

The only downside to this album is that the guitar solos seem to be lacking but overall, all the songs are beautiful. However, I just feel like the solos could have had some more effort put into them. I don't know what it is that makes me feel this, but I can remember all the riffs on this album but hardly any of the solos.

This album in a way has deep emotion put into it, especially in the lyrics as well as the instrumental Voice of the Soul. This instrumental makes use of two electric guitars and an acoustic which is kind of used like the drums on this song. It evokes a sense of beauty and makes you miss Chuck when you hear it.

While not my favorite Death album, I still consider this to be a masterpiece and a great last breath of life for Death (no pun intended).

Standout tracks: Scavenger of Human Sorrow, Spirit Crusher, Voice of the Soul, Moment of Clarity

The nadir - 8%

RageW, August 3rd, 2012

Here you have it - Death's last (and worst) album. Evil Chuck finally got rid of the little mask thing on top of the H on the logo, and in time, he would have probably gotten rid of the scythe as well if it managed to give him some bits of the artistic credibility he oh so craved. The amount of songwriting not present here is staggering; it's actually amazing they managed to record, produce, mix, master and release an entire album without writing any songs at all. Random changes in pace that have nothing to do with what was happening before, a now complete, total and absolute lack of good riffs, Evil Chuck doing a Dani Filth impersonation all the way through, and some of the worst shredding you'll ever have the misfortune to hear in your life are merely elements of the terribleness present in this album. At this point Death don't have a single trace of death metal in them anymore, so this is pretty much a full-blown extreme progressive metal album. Sounds bad? You haven't even begun to listen to The Sound of Perseverance.

Performance-wise, it's the usual Death. Basically, (mostly) everyone gives off a nice performance on their own, which turns into a wreck once everything is added together. The drumming, for one, is such a poor show of groove and restraint that it sadly manages to subtract more from the songs than actually add to them. There's no Hoglan here anymore, so what we get instead is some guy accentuating every nanosecond with every single cymbal on his kit, which I guess is technically impressive, but doesn't do anything to improve the songs. I feels like a drummer trying to play the jazziest beats ever because he would get bored otherwise, but in the end, they feel completely disconnected from the rest of the instruments. In short, it's bad progressive metal drumming. Instead of giving a feel of connection between the rhythmic and melodic elements, the drummer opts to rather show off how many cymbals can be played in the shortest possible time-span. I'm not completely sure if it's Richard Christy's fault for his lack of taste, or if Schuldiner asked him to be as loose as possible in his delivery. The only thing I've heard featuring him is that Control Denied album, but then again it also featured Chuck's songwriting; I'll throw a wild guess and simply blame them both for the mess present here.

Steve DiGiorgio left/was fired before this album was recorded, so he's not present here either. Not that he's missed, since he was mostly relegated to follow the guitars around on the preceding albums. Seriously, you would have expected Chuck to use such a good bass player in a more respectful way. Here, the bass takes on a more active role. It also has a very nice, warm sound. You can hear it thumping under the guitars at times, and it really shines on the quieter parts. However, those parts usually suck more than anything. Those middle sections of "Flesh and the Power it Holds" and "Scavenger of Human Sorrow" are complete snooze fests, and not only do they both manage to appear and go away randomly and out of thin air, masquerading their go as progression, but they contain the most extensive use of bass in the entire album just to be drowned out by Chuck's shitty, shitty soloing. What was he playing those with, a coin?

And that brings us to the guitars themselves. I'm not even going to try to make a case for the riffs, as they are a non-entity. However, if you want to know how they sound like, just picture a bunch of bland thrash/melodeath riffs with lots of sugar thrown in them, and some chugging thrown in for good measure. Let's focus on the shredding instead. It is easily and by far the worst soloing on any Death album, and it isn't even because of a lack of melodic skill, but because of a lack of pure restraint. Case in point, "Voice of the Soul" is an actually amazing track. It's the best later-era Death song ever because it isn't Chuck and company betting to see who plays the fastest, most pompous solo (and in his case, he always lost because he was sloppy as if he were playing with a piece of cardboard). That song works because it carries a principle of "just write a damn song and don't get too cute with it". Also, it doesn't feature vocals, but more on that later. I don't know of Shannon Hamm's work beyond what he did on Control Denied, but that album is probably not the best way to judge any musician present in it. He plays some actually decent leads every so and so while Chuck botches his and succeeds in giving his sloppiest guitar performance ever, and with a career like his, that's saying a lot.

The biggest problem, performance-wise, with The Sound of Perseverance is the vocals. Chuck's silly growls have always been Death's weakest point, but here he just plain out stopped giving a damn. As said earlier, it sounds like he was trying to do a Dani Filth impersonation, with a very annoying high pitched growl that sounds as threatening as, well, Dani Filth. It's a huge step down, because whereas the vocals on other Death albums are uneventful at best and just flat out boring at worst, these are downright obnoxious to listen to. Chuck maintains his "do everything with exactly the same-sounding screech" approach that he has always used, but this time said screech just feels like ear rape. At some points, he'll actually do this weird clean-sounding rasp, but that ends up sounding more like bad melodeath vocals than anything. At least he learned his lesson and actually hired a singer for his Control Denied album -- which is the obvious thing anyone would've done when wanting to write a pure progressive metal album. Also, his "sss" hisses sound horrible. "Dreamssss ssssiiight eyeesss sss sssss sssnaakeesss" goddammit Chuck you were not a reptile, you were a human being, you didn't even have scales.

This is all, of course, completely irrelevant once you point out the actual flaw in the album, which is the songwriting. It's obviously bad, since we know who was in charge of it, but whereas other Death albums showed elements of good songwriting deeply hidden down a sea of shit/nonexistent songwriting, The Sound of Perseverance's approach to this delicate, vital and essential part of making music is to pretty much not do it at all. You know how death metal is supposed to have a sense of chaos? Of dark, morbid riffs that hit you in the head without mercy, but that at the same time manage to find an order within? This tries to do the opposite of that. Instead of ending up with a bunch of songs whose inherent chaos gives you no chance to escape, there are a bunch of verses, choruses, solos, silly fusion sections and a myriad of other things just thrown into a blender and arbitrarily arranged. You could cut them up, paste them into other songs, trade them around, delete them, and nobody would notice the difference. There are awkward silences between sections, proving that their transitions weren't thought of at all, so a section will end abruptly to mark the start of another section that has nothing to do with either the one before, or the one after it. It doesn't sound chaotic, it simply sounds random; like a kid just writing his first song and tabbing it out in guitar pro.

There is one instance of good songwriting here, and that would be "Painkiller" (har har). Obviously, Evil Chuck completely mangled and butchered it and turned it into what I still believe is the worst cover ever. Those videos on YouTube of high school bands full of kids covering "The Final Countdown" and "Sweet Child O'Mine" provide a better listening experience, and in general are more faithful to the spirit of the song. Chuck sounds like an impersonation of Dani Filth doing a Rob Halford imitation. This is made worse by the fact the vocals are laughably louder than the guitars, which do useless harmonizations of the original riffs which didn't need to be harmonized in the first place. Then Chuck comes in with the main solo to completely ruin the original, doing some very sloppy sweep picking exercises in the beginning, and then turning it into a melodeath section that makes no sense at all within the context of the song. "Thisss isss daah Painkillaahh" No, Chuck, you're causing me pain, not killing it. Please stop it, it's mean. You are not Rob Halford. You are not Glenn Tipton. You're not even Ian Hill. Why do you do this.

Summarizing, The Sound of Perseverance is a horrible album. It's shit, and you're better off listening to "Voice of the Soul" on YouTube or something. Death fell so hard into the concrete below they managed to crack it, keep falling, and then continue all the way into earth's mantle -- all while sustaining horrible internal injuries. It's prog for the sake of being prog, it has terrible vocals, terrible shredding, terrible riffs, and I still have no idea what the cover art is supposed to be, but it's really ugly. Gladly, as far as I know, not many bands have gone ahead and started playing in this style consistently, so at least it stands on its own haven of awfulness. It is to be avoided.

The sounds of a forward-looking throwback. - 88%

hells_unicorn, December 30th, 2011
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Nuclear Blast

Contention is a way of life for us in the metal world, we live and die by how much of it we can cause either amongst ourselves, or in the visible mainstream that we have a tenuous relationship with. And in death metal circles, few albums are more contentious than the last offering of the band after which the genre was coined. Some go so far as to assert that this album is not death metal at all, but some sort of extreme progressive album or, odder yet, an outright power metal album with harsh vocals. In an exterior sense, this viewpoint can be sympathized with as much of the material that made it onto "The Sound Of Perseverance" was intended for Chuck's soon to be born Control Denied project, which was an outright power/progressive effort.

The only retort that can really be made, and I share in making it, is that by 1998 death metal's boundaries did not conform to the same ones that were in place 10 years prior. When looking not only at the beginning breaks with tradition made by many other accomplished acts in the early to mid 90s, particularly that of Cynic, but also the rise of the heavy/power metal influences that crept into the scene via that Gothenburg scene, the notion of the narrow paradigm seized upon by Immolation and Incantation, though a very powerful one in itself, was no longer the case. And arguably, Chuck Schuldiner's early influences via certain NWOBHM bands made him something of a melodic death metal proponent before such a thing even existed, even going back to his earliest demo work in 1984-85.

That's the perplexing thing about the mixed reaction that "The Sound Of Perseverance" tends to receive. This album is not a sudden 90 degree left turn in the midst of a 15 year career of stylistic straight away driving, but a culmination of a lengthy period of evolution over the entire 1990s. It is possible to argue that the frog can jump out of the pan when the water starts to get hot, but that argument pretty well fails to make sense by the time "Symbolic" came out, an album that this one is not all that far away from. Yes, the strong influence of Chuck's earlier metal and progressive influences are strongest on this album. Yes, this album was created as a compromise with Nuclear Blast so that they would accept the Control Denied project. Of course, the lead guitar work gets dangerously close to show boating territory and Schuldiner's shouts are much higher in pitch and strongly resembles what is heard in early Children Of Bodom and Skyfire, but the separation between this album and the previous 2 is not as massive musically as one might assume.

Right at the beginning of this album, it's clear that this is a version of Death that wants to showcase their chops, as the guitar lead-in to "Scavenger Of Human Sorrow" almost sounds akin to a Malmsteen paraphrase. As the song gets rolling, a familiar deluge of speeding thrash riff celebrations and rhythmic groove change ups enter the scene. This picture is a bit more mixed up and progressive on "Bite The Pain" and "Story To Tell", a couple of slower songs that play more into the mixed rhythm style that was very present on "Symbolic". "Spirit Crusher" and "To Forgive Is To Suffer" are where the comparisons to more power metal oriented melodeath bands come into play, as the song structure gets a bit more simplified and the catchy factor becomes incredibly overt, especially on the refrain of "Spirit Crusher", which would be excellent sing along material if most people could echo Schuldiner's agonized shrieks without ripping apart their vocal chords.

But all of what has been discussed here is pretty well par for the course in Schuldiner's evolutionary tendencies (minus his vocal shift). Amid the battering array of thunderous anthems are a couple of interesting twists that can be qualified as down right surprising. "Voice Of The Soul" is probably the most moving instrumental to ever come out of a death metal band, riding an intricate classical acoustic guitar line and highlighting both Schuldiner and newly recruited co-axe man Shannon Hamm (also on the Control Denied roster) ability to achieve a haunting melodic atmosphere and also show their shredding skills. The epic "Flesh And The Power It Holds" is also an impressive lead guitar display that could rival much of John Petrucci's work, and the large collection of musical ideas are not all that far from something that could have been heard on "Awake" if the keyboards took a hike and Schuldiner took over singing duties. And if that were not enough to put the dismissive "all death metal sounds the same" types in their place, things conclude with an amazingly faithful rendition of Judas Priest's "Painkiller", where Schuldiner's banshee screams remain morose yet somehow conform themselves to Halford's range, and we even get a taste of his clean melodic voice when the lead guitars aren't soaring in the upper stratosphere.

Opinions will always vary on the nature of this album's genre, but a more important story is told within its songs. This is the closing opus of a project that began under the name Mantas, lead by a kid who had dreams of recording old school heavy metal, got caught up in a more dangerous and trailblazing art form, and then finally came full circle. It's uncertain if Chuck left this world feeling that he fully accomplished what he set out to do, but whatever he intended, he leaves behind a highly influential discography that inspires bands to test their premises on what metal actually is. "The Sound Of Perseverance" could be seen as somewhat self-serving given that it showed Chuck beginning to break with his established audience, but considering what came before it, he clearly deserved some self-gratification, and ended up recording yet another intricate fit of controlled rage in the process.

The sound of interference - 52%

autothrall, May 11th, 2011

Since I seem to have survived the rash of stabbing and car bombing attempts that surrounded my lukewarm reception to Death's well regarded 1991 effort Human, I must once again cast myself into the maw of reckless endangerment by discussing the band's final studio effort, The Sound of Perseverance. I admit to some exaggeration here, because this is perhaps the most divisive of Schuldiner's albums among the general populace, but like Human, I've known numerous individuals who consider it to be some unquestionable pinnacle of musical achievement (individuals, who, in my humble opinion, clearly need to listen to quite a broader range of output before speaking such lies). At its very best, The Sound of Perseverance is a weak admixture of the past three full-lengths. At its worst, its ridden with underwhelming thrash rhythms, competent but forgettable leads, and a mediocre cover song that shows where Chuck's thoughts were TRULY at when he decided to unleash this about the audience.

Those ruminations were already several cups deep in the planning of Control Denied, a side project in which Schuldiner was highly excited, for which he had written a humdrum hybrid of power and progressive metal. The Sound of Perseverance is really just a bridge spanning the possibilities between the poles of Symbolic and The Fragile Art of Existence, which he wanted to get out of the way before moving his attention to that newer outlet. As was the Death tradition, he wrangled up a new lineup for the experience, this time, entirely (even Hoglan took a break). He brought in his Control Denied co-conspirators Shannon Hamm (guitar), Scott Clendenin (bass) and Richard Christy (drums), all competent enough in their roles. In particular, Christy kicks up a storm here. I could seriously just turn off the vocals and guitars and listen to the man batter away. His dynamics are one of the few components of this album that prevent it from the status of a stupefying bore.

Otherwise, it's mostly business as usual. The same thin, punchy processing of guitar tone that was present upon Human, Individual Thought Patterns, and Symbolic. The same inherent level of variation throughout the song structures. The same taut expression of glimmering, spiral leads and muted melodic patterning. Only this time, there is a dearth of inspiration. Not a single song on this album is fit to shine the loafers of even the weakest fraction of Symbolic. Tracks like "Flesh and the Power it Holds", "Scavenger of Human Sorrow", "Story to Tell" are all bloated masses of familiarity, stringy progressive death cycling through a wealth of tempos and tribulations, but falling well short of riffs that I'd ever want to hear again. The jangling grooves that inaugurate "A Moment of Clarity" seem curious at first, but the song soon devolves into a mire of pernicious ruin, offering not even the slightest step beyond the studio precedents. And you can forget about there being even one single 'evil' riff drawn from the cauldron of the band's grisly past, a feat that even the other 90s efforts were capable of pulling off.

But there are two further aspects of The Sound of Perseverance that ensure its position at the bottom rung of this band's career ladder. The first is that Chuck's vocals had become incredibly feline and bitchy throughout this album, almost like a little girl. It's the same general direction as he'd been moving towards through the previous decade, but somewhere between 1995 and 1998 the guy's bluejeans must have been pulled all too tight. It occasionally borders on the black metal rasp prevalent throughout that scene, only more 'emotional', if that makes sense. He sounds like the teamster boss for a union of kittens, crying over sour milk. Takes a bit of getting used to, and as the music does little for me as it stands, I do not intend on getting used to them. And then we come to the unfortunate cover of Judas Priest's "Painkiller", which I suspect is Chuck testing the waters for Control Denied more than anyone might have thought at the time, even though it's a bonus track, supposedly just here for fun. Not a bad choice, mind you, but Death fails to evoke anything interesting in its execution, just a clinical walkthrough, only the leads have been dried out and fall flat on their asses next to the Downing/Tipton originals, which soared.

If I had to pick just one song on The Sound of Perseverance that I immediately feel no urge to skip past, it would have to be "Bite the Pain", and only because it sounds like a Symbolic outtake. The dodgy bass in the bridge, and the choppy mutes that accompany the lead around 2:00 are the only value I've ever gotten from the album in over a decade, aside from Christy's percussion. Even the lyrics are weak, if not thoughtless. This all feels like a massive step sideways and back, a peripheral voyage to Individual Thought Patterns or Symbolic that forgot to pack all the good music into its cargo hold. The Sound of Perseverance makes Human shine in comparison. Hell, even the Control Denied full-length has more to offer, and since this would turn out to be Death's swan song (Chuck sadly succumbing to brain cancer in 2001 after a long struggle), it seems even more a disappointment in retrospect. The album isn't complete shit, but to these ears it felt wholly anticlimactic after Schuldiner had managed to sharpen the 'second phase' of Death to a razor-fine edge with the previous two releases.


Death - The Sound of Perseverance - 95%

ThrashManiacAYD, March 1st, 2011

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

The Sound of Outstanding Musicianship - 94%

OshKosh, September 12th, 2010

The year is 1998, when front man Chuck Schuldiner decided to release his last album under the name of Death. He would continue on with the band Control Denied which sounded even more melodic than Death. The general consensus of all Death albums is that the first few were unadulterated death metal (although one could argue Spiritual Healing was the start of the proggy Death instead of Human) and later albums become much more progressive/ melodic and much less like traditional death metal. It got so melodic that he couldn’t release music under the name of Death as death metal which is why he started Control Denied. The Sound of Perseverance is the midpoint of Chuck Schuldiner’s career in terms of sound, at which if Death sounded any more melodic; it would be no longer considered death metal. The Sound of Perseverance remains a mixed bag amongst Death fans; some criticized the album for being far too "wanky" and some praised the album for being Death’s greatest release. I fall more into the latter category and may be subjected to bias since it was the very first Death album I listened to. I have since listened to Human and Symbolic, which I may review later on. Alright enough blabbing, let’s get into the album.

I’ll first talk about the production. The production is crystal clear and is Death’s best produced album. Everything sounds clear and distinct; you could just admire the production of this album alone rather than the actual music. Each cymbal hit rings out with clarity and just sounds damn good. A great example of where you can take note of the production is around the three minute mark of the opening track of "Scavenger of Human Sorrow". It is even more obvious if you compare something like Human which sounded kind of murky and somewhat hard to distinguish the individual instruments to The Sound of Perseverance.

Another thing you’d notice about this album is that Chuck Schuldiner’s vocal style has changed considerably. From low guttural growling to an almost black metal like screeching, this alone would cause uproars amongst Death’s fan base. This may be attributed to Chuck’s cancer but I’m not too sure. I for one don’t mind it too much and I think it still fits the style of music well. It also sounds clearer and you can make out the lyrics easier than with his previous style. I’m not saying it supersedes his previous style; it’s just a change that I accept and don’t make a huge deal out of it.

Now the guitar is excellent overall and displays some traditional metal riffs like in "Spirit Crusher" and some great melodic leads like in the chorus of "A Moment of Clarity". Even to songs that would be considered blasphemy to the death metal genre *ahem* "Voice of the Soul", which I’ll talk about more in depth later. The solos can be quite short like in "Spirit Crusher" where it lasts around 30 seconds to being around a minute and 30 seconds like in (again) "A Moment of Clarity." Now for the aforementioned "wanky" elements; there are definitely some that are no doubt "wank" as in "Bite the Pain" where he decides to throw in some random lick that didn’t really need to be in the song. I have to admit some of the solos just seem more sterile and don’t really add to much to the song and are there for simply the sake of it example: "Spirit Crusher". (I really got to start referencing more tracks). There are around half a dozen types of riffs per song which makes each song interesting and enjoyable to listen to.

On to the drums… and what can I say? Richard Christy is a fucking good drummer. Everyone talks about Hoglan or Reinert but I hardly hear anyone mention Christy. This guy does some extremely complex stuff and there are hardly any beats that sound typical or unoriginal. All his beats typically utilize most of his drum set and are a joy to listen to. I had to watch a few Death drum covers in order to truly understand how good Christy was. Practically every part of his kit is used and he uses every single cymbal and drum head on his kit a few times for each song. Just look at the intro to "Scavenger of Human Sorrow" where he hits at least five different cymbals yet it still sounds great and not out of place. Parts that are mind-blowing and I had to pause for a bit in order to fully take in what I just heard is around the two minute part of "Bite the Pain" where he pulls off some unbelievable stuff. An extremely underrated drummer, Christy raised the bar of how I look at drumming in metal in general.

The bass lines in each song are complex and are definitely not just there for the sake of having a bass. There are many times where the bassist shines and is given his moments of having these interludes placed in songs where you can only hear the bass and maybe with some drum accompaniment. The bass isn’t also buried under layers of other instruments and you can easily hear it for pretty much all of the tracks. One of my favorite bass lines in this album is for "Spirit Crusher" and damn… it sounds very menacing, like this evil being (the Spirit Crusher) is coming and the drums only add to it. Not too much to elaborate on the bass but it just sounds outstanding overall.

The lyrics, of course, are extremely well written and it is one of the many high standards of Chuck Schuldiner that consistently holds. However (get ready to flame the shit out of me), some of them border the line on almost mallcore like. Don’t get me wrong; Death (especially on Human and songs like "Crystal Mountain") have very philosophical and deep lyrics. This is me just being pretty nitpicky. I just noticed that quite a few songs like "Scavenger of Sorrow" (example: "If you doubt what I say/ I will make you believe") seem to have this sort of "I hate you" attitude that is typical of that genre. Some of them are pretty cringe worthy like the beginning of "Flesh and the Power It Holds" ("I told you once/ But I’ll say it again"). Perhaps there is a much deeper meaning to these lyrics? A very nitpicky thing I have about Death lyrics are that they don’t take too long to interpret, as in they’re not very cryptic or have many hidden meanings to them. This is a very small complaint as they still make you think about certain things in perspectives you never would’ve imagined. Again, this is purely my opinion and I’m sure that many, many other people would be glad to contradict me.

The song lengths are easily Death’s longest overall with only 2 under the 6 minute mark. However, I don’t really mind the song length because they are well structured and continue to hold your interest throughout each song. Although, some of the parts in each song are repeated quite a few times which may put some people off. Each part is complex and you probably won’t fully appreciate each part if they weren’t repeated that often. The track that would stick out the most to Death fans is easily "Voice of the Soul" where it is an instrumental that would be the last thing categorized as death metal because there is an acoustic guitar coupled with an electric guitar soloing over it sans drums, bass and of course vocals. It is a very solemn track where I often become contemplative and introspective when I listen to it. The album ends on a cover of Judas Priest’s "Painkiller" which I have a sort of "meh" feel about it. It’s not the best way to the end the album, but it doesn’t feel too out of place and (like many people have said before me) Schuldiner pushes his voice to the limits on the track and you can truly behold what he is capable of doing vocally. Another interesting thing I noticed about this album is that each song sort of leads into each other or sounds similar to other songs on the album, like around 3 minutes through "Scavenger of Human Sorrow" it resembles "Spirit Crusher". The same can be said for a few other tracks on the album.

In conclusion, I think it is not best to look at this as a death metal album but more of a melodic progressive album which many find it as a hard pill to swallow considering Death essentially created death metal and their name is "Death" after all. Just look at Symbolic; it is hard to consider it as pure death metal especially with a drum intro like "Zero Tolerance" yet it was extremely innovative. Everything about this album is admirable and Schuldiner poured quite a bit of work into it to make such an album. Maybe it wouldn’t receive so much criticism if Schuldiner released this under Control Denied’s name. Ironically, Death’s last and most complex and progressive album got me into Death which is probably why I give it this much praise. This is one of the albums that you have to listen to quite a few times in order to appreciate it (I know I did; I listened to the album four or five times and a few tracks around 25-30 times) so I don’t blame you if you didn’t like it at first.

Favorite tracks: "Bite the Pain", "Spirit Crusher", "A Moment of Clarity", and "Voice of the Soul".

Not bad... - 78%

Cryptaria, August 30th, 2010

I did not put this album on expecting to listen to death metal. From what I gathered off the band's front page on this website, their later works are categorized as a "Death/Progressive", meaning one, the other or both. After hearing the stark contrast between Scream Bloody Gore and Human, I thought, "Well, this certainly isn't going to sound anything like their earlier shit." Okay, first track's up. Good opening but a punch in the face is what everybody expects from the start of a metal album. It sure is fast. More into the song, I think to myself, "I need to start a fight with somebody." This is a good sign for me. And so it goes...Fast forward after about a dozen listens over several years and it hits me: The coherence...It's a lot of very technical, progressive metal yes but the lulls that enter quickly into the thrash sections are...inappropriate? That’s an odd word. How about “kind of dull?” To be perfectly forthright I have never been a huge “progressive rock” fanatic so there might be a bit of bias behind that statement.

As for the vocals? There's no gutter! That’s okay. This is progressive metal. They're melodic but far from clean and very, very far from rasps. They aren't barks either. Categorization's never been my strong point in all honesty. The real question is whether or not I think they're good. Truthfully? I'd give them a C+ for "motivation". I mean, that's the whole point of a vocalist, right? His voice soars above the chaotic wall of noise and the driving bass-line thudding along with the drumwork to the point where you physically feel it in your bones but, and this is coming from an individual who never had the pleasure of witnessing Death live, it just doesn't seem like these would be the kind of vocals that would get me good and pissed at a show. I certainly won’t believe that this album isn’t meant to make crowds move either. I really want to be entertained by this but I keep finding myself almost being kind of startled (and not in a really good way I'm afraid) but the frequent melody schisms that happen within the same song. Perhaps that was the intention? Either way, it's one of those things that kind of just dawns on me where the words are connected and formed into the sentence, "This part of the song sucks!"

Take Flesh and The Power It Holds for example to kind of clarify what I'm trying to say. It's all over the place. It keeps going from shred to "here's some floor tom chugging", then he does some virtuoso guitarwork layered over an emphasized bass to give it that, "Here's the interlude!" feel. Guess what comes after? Yes, of course: It's the part where they start riffing really fast again after some almost overdramatic single chord-strikes. No, wait. Moderately fast. Oh, there's that part. Great...This song is just unremarkable with every respect. Nothing sticks in my head. Yes, I know the word perseverance is in the album's title and that is obviously going to be a central thematic element behind the sound but, seriously, when I hear the next track, I think to myself: "This is great music. Oh, here's that lull. Guitar scream. Oh yes, I can see it now, a man surrounded by harrowing images that he has to conquer as he stumbles in the dark and then he smashes through a wall in a great blaze of sun-light over blinded eyes. It's just too bad this song seems so ironic in light of some of the other shit licks they've put on this CD." The last thirty seconds in To Forgive is to Suffer? What the hell is that? It just doesn’t sound good! I’m afraid to say that one of the only truly redeeming songs on this album, for me, is Scavenger. It’s not that the rest is “bad”, it isn’t that it’s bland either. It’s like somebody tried to make a flesh golem taking 75% of Brad Pitt’s body and then mixing it with Brian Pepper’s. Altogether, this is great shit but there are some very noticeably detrimental qualities about the general songs’ structure’s coherence and choice of melodies and tempo changes. Last example: 3:55ish to 4:10ish in Moment of Clarity? Utter crap. The majority of the rest of the song? Great! Like any other teamwork though, it’s only as good as the weakest member and that section of the song just kind of jars you and this is coming from somebody who tolerates a lot of music that I’m willing to bet most of the people here would piss themselves laughing at me over. I give this a C+. A 75 with some extra points for the excellent cover at the end.

Death - The Sound of Perseverance - 90%

Orbitball, March 25th, 2010

Originally formed as Mantas in 1983, the late musical legend Chuck Schuldiner decided to change the band's name to Death back in 1984. Their older material was considered to be straight forward death metal. This would include "Scream Bloody Gore", "Leprosy", "Spiritual Healing" and "Human" (1987, 1988, 1990 and 1991 respectively). Their later releases shy away from this death metal only approach, and would be considered to fall under genres of death/progressive metal. That seemed to be the aim for this final Death album. Chuck's progression in his songwriting really steered in the direction of this more melodic sounding song types, and a lesser focus on death metal only, as was previously mentioned.

The music on this album showed another very skilled and creative form of metal song writings. This displayed how Chuck focused more on melodic/technical guitar parts, and was opposed to being simply tied down to one particular genre. The guitar riffs on here reflect the mastermind's ideas put forth into action. This release is problably Death's most technical one; I'd say more so than any of their previous albums. The tracks such as "Scavenger of Human Sorrow", "Bite the Pain", "Spirit Crusher" and "Flesh and the Power It Holds" are extravagantly written songs. The reason I say this is because they seemed to be more reflective on melodic riffs and high screeching vocals, instead of the past heavier riff writing styles alongside a hoarse or guttural throat. Everything on here featured Chuck at his best in terms of songwriting capabilities; each track has its key moments, especially on the instrumental entitled "Voice of the Soul."

The song tempos are moderately fast and explosive, with the exception of a few tracks. The metal just flows on this album, and each track demonstrates guitar parts that are totally original sounding and awe inspiring. There aren't any tracks on here that are boring or repetitive. The songs are so well thought out, and it's an amazing album to listen to. Analyzing each song, it's clear that every one of them are so original in their entirety. Some pieces seem to shine more so than others when it comes to their unique qualities, but overall the embellishments are remarkable. It's true that Chuck didn't like categories of metal; this was featured on a past interview via But anyhow, his musical abilities really shined the most on this Death album; Chuck took metal to a new exploration here. For the most part, the songs are less brutal but still very catchy.

The sound quality was brilliantly mixed with each instrument well heard throughout the album. This was arguably one of the best produced Death releases ever thanks to Jim Morris. On a few different notes, I must say that the overall playing of each member was awesome. For example, Shannon Hamm, their last rhythm/lead guitarist was a little more technical than Chuck on his leads. He had a unique picking style, which was featured on Death's live DVD. Overall, this is one of the best lineups Chuck arranged to be featured here on this album. At the time, these musicians were hardly even known. Chuck was always notorious for selecting a different lineup on pretty much all of Death's releases. Each of the musicians on here are very talented, and Chuck did another good job of selecting the right people to perform on here.

Death's lyrical concepts focused more on topics such as spirituality and society, as opposed to mainly just gore. They are the most thought out than previous releases, and reflect these newer focal points. However, on most Death albums, Chuck's lyrics are very well done, especially on "Individual Thought Patterns" (1993). This final Death album is again arguably the best Death release, lyrically speaking. The focus was more spiritually driven, with less of an emphasis on other previous topics. A good example of this concept was on the track entitled "Spirit Crusher." In addition, this album features a cover for Judas Priest's "Painkiller" on the last track, which was because of Nuclear Blast's re-released version back in 2001. A really good cover to say the least.

In conclusion, "The Sound of Perseverance" is Death's most technical and one of the most brilliant releases out of their entire discography. There aren't any tracks on here that don't show Chuck's brilliance in songwriting in terms of musical and lyrical capabilities. Chuck was metal's Mozart for sure, and death metal was pretty much founded by the band, at least during their earliest days. Don't miss out on this release, because it demonstrates so much diversity and originality. Chuck will be missed, but his legacy lives on through his music, in which he was able to put forth while he was living.

Almost... but not quite - 88%

JamesIII, March 3rd, 2010

Like most albums within Death's later works there is a tendency even by the band's more established fans to ignore this part of their career in favor of "Scream Bloody Gore." While there certainly isn't anything wrong with wanting to hear more and more of those early days of death metal, it does cause some audiences to erroneously push aside Death's more accomplished works. What it boils down to isn't so much as a pissing contest between Death's earlier and later careers, but more of the perspective of a band's evolution.

Death, to me, are one of those bands who managed to be technical and progressive, yet enjoyable. Such a combination is not an easy one to find in death metal, especially in modern times where the emphasis is placed on sheer complexity for no specific purpose other than just to do it. Yet Death had a purpose all along for their progression and evolution, and their final album in "The Sound of Perserverance" saw yet another mountain being scaled.

The song lengths on "The Sound of Perserverance" are the longest of any Death album, which is interesting since song durations had been increasing with each successive release. The durations here break the five minute mark on average, with only two exceptions in "Bite the Pain" and "Voice of the Soul," and with six songs that break the six minute mark. This is a remarkable shift from previous albums like "Individual Thought Patterns," where the song lengths were 3-4 minutes. The additional times allow for more progressive elements and section changes, which is actually one of the only flaws present on this album, which I will get to later.

The other major change is Chuck's voice, which has adopted a thrashier vocal style instead of lower, heavier tone he's had on previous works. This allows a new facet to the band we haven't before, one that works very well in most regards. Its interesting to hear these changes, particularly since Chuck was the only remaining band member from the line-up that was featured on "Symbolic." In some ways, its almost like "The Sound of Perserverance" was recorded by an entirely different band, yet, paradoxically, maintains that signature Death vibe.

You get a feel for what I mean in that last sentence by the opener, "Scavenger of Human Sorrow." This nearly seven minute track goes through numerous changes, but most of these move quite smoothly. Like most of Death's later output, the song length feels longer than it really is due to all the changes and shifts that filter in and out. I don't count this as a negative aspect to the album or the band in general, as they pull it off better than most progressive death metal bands out there.

"Bite the Pain" is shorter, and contains one of the more memorable riffs on the album. The song eventually picks up speed, which it maintains for most of the listen. Then comes "Spirit Crusher," which a personal favorite of mine alongside "A Moment of Clarity." Both of these songs are the most memorable of the bunch, whose progressive elements pull you into the song into instead allowing you to merely "hear" it. That seems to be the problem with "The Sound of Perserverance," in that a good number of these songs don't reach out and grab the listener like "Symbolic" did. "Symbolic" pulled the audience into the album, whereas this album can be a little much to withstand at times.

The main problem with this isn't that the songs are too long, but instead that some of these songs have too many ideas and come off as over-developed. They become difficult to listen to on one full listen, which is something I never encountered on "Symbolic" or "Human." I also get that feeling at times of the dreaded "technicality for the sake of technicality," one of the things that Death never indulged in without some purpose. This is the only real flaw I could find on this album, save perhaps the Judas Priest cover tacked on at the end. The "Painkiller" is a definite keeper, no doubt about it, but I'm not a big fan of sticking covers at the end of a proper album. Its a bit picky of me, but it seems like that would have been best saved for a compilation of some kind.

"The Sound of Perserverance" wasn't the strongest note for Death to exit on, but it was still impressive. Death climbed alot of mountains in their time, thanks largely to the genius of Chuck Schuldiner, but here it seems too much. The album is still an excellent one, especially for 1998 when it was released, a time when all forms of metal found themselves in awkward places and unsure where to go next. It still remains a favorite of mine in Death's catalog (along with pretty much every album they did) and while I can recommend it to the fan of Death's later works, I still acknowledge "Symbolic" as superior to this and their best effort.

Christianity and AIDS - 5%

Kruel, July 24th, 2009

It has been claimed by a certain part of the metal community that Chuck Schuldiner was a Christian who died of AIDS. The claim was probably half-serious at most, and likely trolling, but The Sound of Perseverance does sound like Christianity and AIDS. Like Christianity, this is incoherent; like AIDS, this was a disease that weakened metal's immune system to modern technical death metal (i.e. this probably had a big influence on it).

This is an album by none other than the legendary Death, but this is not death metal. There is not a single death metal riff to be found on this album. There is no darkness, morbidity, or a sense of death in any of the riffs. The melodies, played with a sterile and clean lead guitar tone, are so modern and sugary that they sound like melodeath at best and some shopping-mall mainstream music at worst. I am not as versed in that type of music to point out specific examples (like emo, pop punk, etc.), but this is not in the least meant as a hyperbole. The first riff of A Moment of Clarity is an example – while it has the disjunction characteristic of this album, the shitty melody can be clearly heard – and the vaguely Egyptian but fundamentally saccharine lead passage enclosing the guitar solo of the same song is another. Not even the vocals here are death metal vocals. They are, admittedly, somewhat unique – but also bad. They are somewhere in-between high-pitched clean singing and harsh vocals, and sound very forced and uncomfortable. The incorporation of clean vocal elements allows more control over the melody than is usual for the typical harsh vocals, but this aspect, instead of being used wisely, only results in melodeath-like vocals, and in some cases even pathetic attempts at catchy sing-along choruses (e.g. around 5:00 of 'Story to Tell').

It could be said that a sense of chaos is an important in death metal, and this is chaotic in a sense, but ultimately its death metalness, or the album's quality in general – for those of you who think technical sugar "metal" like this is not inherently inferior to death metal –, is inarguable. It is chaotic in the sense that it is random and disjointed, but it has no meaningful feeling of chaos. If real death metal is ordered chaos, this is chaotic order. In real (good) death metal, chaotic riffs are arranged in an unpredictable but ultimately sensible order, but here somewhat orderly-sounding (though not really ordered in any good way) riffs are arranged in an utterly chaotic fashion. A variety of riffs are employed, including thrashy riffs – though they are in a more melodeath fashion than real thrash due to the sugary melodies –, arpeggios, chugging, and some mid-paced melodic power chord progressions. Riffs are generally bad in themselves – often a melody is dissected into pieces by the chugging between every melodic note, or a riff simply consists of some chugging before a technical lead-like phrase comes in at the end, and there are lots of stop-starts and technical proggish riffs. It is certainly a difficult task to make coherent songs out of these building blocks, which are hardly coherent themselves and appear irrelevant to each other, but even this handicap (which was caused by the band itself anyway) cannot excuse the level of illogic and chaos displayed by songwriting on this album. Literally the majority of transitions from one riff to the next sound extremely arbitrary, and even the others are hardly smooth. If you took all the riffs from this album, mixed them, and made 8 songs ('Painkiller' doesn't count) by randomly choosing the riffs for each song, it wouldn't really be that different from the original album. Moreover, the interjections of short lead phrases are often completely unrelated to the riffs (see 1:40 of 'Bite the Pain,' for example), and the abrupt ending of guitars are always followed by bass lines unrelated to the guitar riffs surrounding the non-guitar section.

There is very little to say about the structural aspect of this album when structure is barely present at all. There is no unifying theme, nor any logical progression or development. That said, there is a certain pattern that each track follows (though the term "song structure" cannot be used here) – there is a cycle of riffs, some of them repeated within the cycle, which is followed by a guitar solo in the middle, then the cycle repeats itself before the song comes to an end. Astounding – they actually managed to sound both totally random and repetitive. The guitar solos consist of the same repulsive melodic content, and more: often the main theme of the solo would be interrupted with some technical phrase that is really nothing but finger exercise. Near the end of 'To Forgive is to suffer,' there seems to be a melodic build-up not entirely opposed to logic, but then it quickly collapses into irrelevance as a completely unrelated lead guitar shred comes in to end the track. Voice of the Soul, an instrumental with clean guitar accompaniment and overdriven solos, at least sounds a lot more consistent compared to the other songs on this album, but an Yngwie Malmsteen piece (which isn't exactly the pinnacle of metal, to put it mildly) is easily more coherent and much more metal than this.

'Painkiller,' not surprisingly, is by far the best track on the album, but even this is totally ruined compared to the original version. The over-the-top vocals, while not even close to Halford's "laser-bullet" voice in fitting in with the rest of the music, work better than they do on the rest of the album, but the guitar solos are absolutely reprehensive. They bear very little semblance to the original versions; the Death version of the Tipton solo starts out with meaningless shredding before it is transformed into a very bright-sounding and upbeat section that absolutely loses the sense of tension the original version had, and the Downing solo is turned into mere scale exercise.

The rhythm section on this album is rather inventive; the drumming is varied, with numerous fills, and the bass often acts independently of the guitars. However, they do nothing to save the non-existent structure of the songs, and even add to the overall sense of randomness due to their lack of integration with the guitars. This is really a horrible album with lots of technical exercises and no structure, and not even Painkiller will kill the pain induced by listening to this album.

Virtuoso of Death - 99%

Ogremace, October 22nd, 2008

If one were to listen through all of Death’s studio recordings from start to finish the following 5 hours of music would be a steady progression from harsh and raw to crisp and refined, from structurally simplistic and technically complacent to grandiose and virtuosic, with never a detour in quality. From their early days as a of source of sonic bludgeoning to this, their final album the changes have been immense; yet Chuck Schuldiner remains the key factor and the defining element, managing to release no two identical albums while maintaining a definitive path throughout.

The final installment in the Death discography sees a totally different line-up than its successor, Symbolic. Gene Hoglan moved on to Strapping Young Lad and was replaced by Richard Christy and Scott Clendenin on bass and Shannon Hamm on guitar round out the lineup. The shift from Hoglan to Christie is undoubtedly one of the key changes, as Hoglan was the foundation of the two albums most directly related to The Sound and is, of course, a god among mere mortals. Christie rightly tackles this project as a his own and not in the shadow of the Atomic Clock and aside from being a fully capable drummer was perhaps an even better fit for Chuck and his traditional/power metal leanings. What Christie brings, or rather what comes out through Christie, is a more driving, less punctuated rhythmic approach, galloping along with an almost merry temperament. The effect of this shift is a livlier, more predictable base for Chuck’s catchy, approachable brand of progressive metal. Christie isn’t quite the artist Gene is but he’s no slouch and his percussive persistence probably allowed the music to become exactly what Chuck had been working towards all those years.

Truthfully, even by the time of Human Chuck’s tastes had changed. He didn’t really like the death metal of the day, found much of it to be mindless, speed-crazed silliness, and was trying desperately to distance himself from the “Evil Chuck” image the band’s name did little to contradict. It would be less of a stretch to say this wasn’t at all the same band anymore than it would be to say the opposite, and 15 years and 432 band members later Chuck saw himself as one of the few who still stood for metal in a time when metal only stood for “brutality”. He had already started putting together his next band, Control Denied, the process of which had brought him Christie, and was adamant about the role and necessity of melody in a music that had become dominated by indecipherable growls and distorted atonal churning. Much of the material found here was actual meant for the upcoming Control Denied album but was reworked for Death to fulfill contractual obligations. It’s not that this album was forced – the ideas are as fresh and vitally infused as anything before or after, it just wasn’t exactly what Chuck planned to be doing at the time.

The most obvious clue to this overlapping of interests is the vocals, which are the most clear and crisp the man would ever divulge and a noticeable shift even from Symbolic. They’d been moving in this direction since all the way back on Spiritual Healing but here they really bite and are more vicious than ever. Some decry the shift from the early voice, which was a trademark sound of the origins of death metal, but these piercing cries are a feat rarely matched in any field of metal. While they generally sit in a coarse, throaty bark they can ascend to shrill heights and attain truly chilling effect.

The remaining ingredients more subtly belie Chuck’s interest in traditional heavy metal but nonetheless bring its fruit to bear. Overall, this album can be seen as a successor to Symbolic, but to see it only as that is to miss its unique place on the metal spectrum. Here the melodic aspects are, if not more developed, more prominent. The guitar tone is wire-thin and has a slightly juiced-up reverb; it stands apart more so than any prior Death effort and is very reminiscent of the early days of metal and the dominance of the guitar. This sonic separation comes alongside further integration of melody into the songwriting, something Symbolic had only begun to do. The ratio of two-guitar, rhythmic riffs to single-axe melodic leads is the lowest in the whole catalogue and the most time seems to have been spent crafting these winding, spiraling, dancing licks, which represent themes, embellishments, transitions and interludes and are not limited in their scope nearly at all. While at times this can edge towards superfluity the seemingly infallible melodic aptitude of the composer assures every phrase and every run of at least some merit and a good many of them of unforgettable status.

For the death metal devotees among us, the music here could be somewhat disappointing: it feels so much more than its predecessors like a transition to something else, something other than Death. Where Symbolic had a plethora of heavy, powerful riffs, The Sound subsists on a different diet and the death metal elements here are certainly out of the spotlight. That being said, this album is less cluttered, is neater; it’s easier to remember songs in their entirety despite a continuing attention to the nuances of song composition and progression. The same clarity of vision is present, there are simply fewer individual pieces at play, a trait which I’ll refrain from characterizing as either a positive or a negative and leave simply as a distinguishing, the distinguishing, factor.

Perhaps a direct result of this, or perhaps an effect sharing with it a cause, is the real, practical shortcoming of this final album, that it has songs that just don’t quite make it. Amazingly, this is probably the first such album from Death. The aesthetic differences are incremental, if substantial, and the structural elements remain top notch. But, songs like “Story to Tell” and “A Moment of Clarity” never deliver the punch line. There are plenty of hooks on the album, but not nearly the ridiculous amount on either of the past two nor quite the consistency of the two prior to those. With durations exceeding 6 minutes, that ends up coloring the whole record. As strong as “Bite the Pain”, “Spirit Crusher” and the monumental “Flesh and the Power It Holds” are they can’t conceal the thinness of their comrades. It’s a testament to the prodigious capabilities of Chuck that this album is, despite this, great.

But even here we might be selling him short. This isn’t just a great album; it’s unique. It didn’t have the influence of Leprosy or Human and it didn’t spawn a genre like Scream Bloody Gore or Individual Thought Patterns but it does stand firmly in between disparate realms, between progressive death, technical thrash and power/heavy metal as it does between the new metal and the old metal. That it may not be definitive with regards to these relationships doesn’t diminish its singularity or steadfastness of vision. And now, 25 years on from the birth of that wonderful thing we call death metal, after countless diversions, imitations, mutations and bastardizations, regardless of our interest in Judas Priest or Dio or clean vocals we should be very acutely tuned to the presence, in any form, of the spirit of classic metal. It was devotion to this spirit that gave us thrash, that gave us death, that gave us all the “extreme” metals in their various forms. And it’s the vanishing of that spirit that signals the end for any variation on these themes. Chuck knew that all along and in him and in Death we have an enduring monument to the necessity of that thought.

Written for

Sweet Jesus, What An Album... - 89%

Akerfeldt_Fanboi, September 23rd, 2008

This album has only two views from fans of Death. Either that they despise and call it wank or they love it. I hold the latter opinion in that little debacle, as you can obviously tell from my ridiculously high score.

Alright, well, I'll start off with the very few cons.

Firstly, the lack of outrageous bass patterns saddens me. Though Scott created a very good set of lines, and performed them skillfully and had stage presence, he could've played some more interesting bass solos/lines. For instance, even though I love the intro Spirit isn't much beyond the first guitar riff.

Secondly, and lastly, the Painkiller cover. Even though I think Chuck had a ridiculously good voice on this song I just didn't like it...the near monotous Halford vocals are gone and that slightly angers me. It just doesn't sound that right, to me.

Now, onto the good parts of the album. Quite a few at that.

The guitar sound? For Chuck and co. to be using solid state amps, this album has rather good guitar tone. A perfect crisp punch without leaving out the powerful bass presences. The leads are enhanced by chorus and reverb pedals, thus giving them intensly spacey and melodic vibes. The riffing is incredible, shifting from the now necessary Death pedal point riffing to the straightforward powerchord-chug-power chord formula reminiscent of any Death song.

The riffs...OH THE RIFFS. I'm normally not one to orgasm mentally over riffs, but these riffs are so good and so solid that I can't help but point them out. Many people claim this album lacks substantial riffing as it is "technical wankery" but this album is honestly chock-full of nasty riffs. Particulary in songs like A Moment of Clarity and Spirit Crusher. Then the solos...standard Chuck fare, tapping occaisional mini-sweeps and lots of melodic minor shredding. My favorites.

The guitarist for this album, and the Control Denied album, Shannon Hamm is a good guitarist. He manages to do well enough when called upon in studio but his live performance is horrid. The only thing that redeems him is his energy on stage.

Now, onto the bass. Fairly prominent, and very good. Look up at the cons for my disagreements on the basslines.

Anyways, the drums. Many people attest Gene Hoglan to be the best Death drummer, but after inspections of this album it is easily proven that Richard Christy flays any attempt by Gene. His ridiculously technical patterns into simple D beat stuff into the usual metal double bass pattern form is extremely effective on this album. He never goes off time and his fills and accuracy are completely professional.

Then, the lyrics. We stumble upon what most call the idiotic part of later Death. But, to be honest, these are Chuck's most truthful lyrics and show through a more "real" image of the main man. They vary from spirituality topics to those of the unknown, the dead, and stories of fictional creatures.

Related to the lyrics is the songwriting. Many people push off this albums writing as too pretentious and that is fairly justified as this album is rather progressive. Though, what is not justified is calling the album shit because of that. The songwriting is still comprehensive of death metal and adopts the conveniences of progressive metal and power metal.

Nearly finally, the vocals. Chuck shifted vocal styles rapidly throughout the years of Mantas and Death. Originally formatting a raspy growl to his liking, he changed in five years to a slightly higher shriek which eventually led to the vocals on this album. As the goddess said previously, they are like razors. The vocals pierce and screech their way through the album, never letting any tension go. On occaisions Chuck can be heard letting lose his full body through the mic (see: Spirit Crusher's ending choruses).

Now it's finally the production values. The album is produced with a perfect mix. Rarely does one find a perfect death metal album in terms of mixing. The few that there are include: Cannibal Corpse's The Wretched Spawn, Incantion's Onward to Golgatha, this album, and Deicide's Legion. When you get perfectly mixed albums like those you hear damn near musical perfection. Every instrument is perfectly high in the mix, even the bass. The vocals are rather loud, but do not intrude on the music.

Well, that's about it from me. I recommend this album if you are a fan of death metal with progressive tendencies and power metal shrieking.

Best songs? Honestly, all of them, though Story to Tell and Spirit Crusher hold rather high places. No bad songs, in my mind either.

Just missed the mark..... - 84%

BastardHead, March 24th, 2008

I'd like to think that Death continually progressed throughout their career to a sound further and further away from their death metal roots while still retaining integrity and songwriting abilities. And for the most part, they did, the only blemish in the progression is the very end, The Sound of Perseverance. It's hard to describe this without either sounding like a pretentious dicknose or a raving fanboy, so forgive me if I seem to fluctuate in my opinions.

This is undoubtedly a logical continuation in the progression that began with Human back in 1991, but in the songwriting department, it's a step down from 1995's masterful Symbolic. The songwriting tends to take a back seat to technical showmanship more so than ever on this record. It's a rut that many bands with proficient musicians fall victim to, and Death is no exception. Songs like A Moment of Clarity or Story to Tell aren't very memorable like other tracks in the past and on this album. There is no denying that the musicianship is top notch, as evidenced by the copious mindlblowing solos and drum fills. Chuck's vocals once again got higher, a trend that began years beforehand. This time, they range from a high pitched shriek to the ear piercing wail on the cover of Judas Priest's timeless classic, Painkiller. Richard Christy, who would later gain fame on The Howard Stern Show, is a worthy replacement to Gene Hoglan and is just as competent on the kit as the 600 pound behemoth.

But as I said, the lack of memorable melodies, riffs, vocal lines, or things of that sort mar the mathematically wonderful record. Story to Tell has completely pointless and random stops throughout it that do nothing but annoy me. Scavenger of Human Sorrow, while being a technical showcase to behold, is completely forgettable, as is To Forgive is to Suffer and A Moment of Clarity. Flesh and the Power it Holds meanders in the middle for far too long and could be the best song on the record if it was a minute or two shorter.

Don't get me wrong, The Sound of Perseverance is far from being a bad album, in fact it is quite great. Bite the Pain and Spirit Crusher are probably the only two songs that are amazing from start to finish (barring the final cover). Both of them also hold two of my favorite riffs on the album (0:42 in the former and 2:32 in the latter), which is proof that Chuck still possesses some of the magic from the previous records. Flesh and the Power it Holds contains also what I may consider one of the most perfect riffs of all time, the verse riff, as I feel like moving every time I hear it, which is what a great riff is supposed to do. Voice of the Soul is a great instrumental as well, with some stunning dual guitar melodies that actually drip with emotion.

Sad to say though, the last track is probably the highlight of the album. Painkiller is, to me, hands down the best Judas Priest song ever penned. Now, when one of my favorite bands decides to cover it at a higher speed and with even more blood curdling shrieks, you get one of the best covers of all time. Chuck struggles with the sweep patterns at the beginning of the first solo, which is slightly shocking considering his chops. I can understand why some would abhor this, but I find it to be one of the coolest things I've ever heard. Whether this or the original is better is still open for judgment, but you cannot convince me that the vocal performance isn't one of Schuldiner's best.

So to wrap up, this is a technical powerhouse with solos and melodies forced up your ass every ten seconds, but by the end of the album, only a couple forced rams will still be resonating in your presumably throbbing anus. By no means bad, but a noticeable step down in the memorability and respinability department from the last few endeavors. A B to Death. Recommended to fans of Death's later work, and whatever genre you want to consider this ("extreme progressive metal"? or some wankery like that).

mostly wank - 42%

super_bum, October 6th, 2006

Surely much praise has been bestowed upon Chuck Shuldiner and his legacy. Many people proclaim Chuck to be a brilliant guitarist and a musical virtuoso. People also claim that all of his musical virtues are embodied by this very album. Then as always there are those people that dismiss "The Sound of Perseverance" as nothing more than a technical masturbation exercise. The opinion of the latter is more agreeable, most of this stuff is technical wanking.

There is not even the slightest doubt that Chuck Schuldiner possessed tremendous capabilities as a guitar player. Every single guitar solo is an eruption of notes sequenced in consonant melodic fashion. Certainly one must feel every stream of passionate emotions pouring out of every beautiful guitar solo. It's hard to stress just how jaw droppingly amazing these guitar solos are. They are played at lightning fast speeds and with immense technicality, but yet they are just melodic enough to make them sugary sweet and memorable. If there's one reason to buy this album, it is those damned fine guitar solo's.

However, guitar solos, or even mountainous technical abilities are just not enough to make a great album. Sometimes technical showcasing simply gets in the way and even tends to ruin a great song. Such is the case with this album. Musicianship doesn't necessarily destroy the album, it just leaves a bad impression. There are some sections of a song which were better left off. These sections are, quite frankly, annoying. They exist merely to disrupt the overall flow of the song. Perhaps the worst aspect of this album is the stale song construction. Every single song is written in repetitive fashion. First they play a series of riffs, some of them random and misplaced, then the brilliant guitar solo flourishes, afterwards the song repeats itself. Just about every song follows this cyclical songwriting. The astounding instrumental ability does not save this album from the lack of variation.

This album does have a few positive aspects. There are plenty of memorable guitar licks and riffs. Perhaps due to the fact that this is perhaps Death at its most accessible. Most of the riffs contain sappy melodicism with a touch of percussive tendencies. Guitar riffs are played along side a basking rhythm drum and bass backing. On top of all this is Chuck's rather distastefully ugly vocals. His voice is a high pitched, scratchy snarl, and it is not very pleasant to listen to, even for extreme metal standards. Indeed, Chuck mainly relies on instrumentation.

It is easy to see why one would either enjoy and highly praise this album, yet it also difficult to not see why someone would blast this album. On the surface we have a great deal of astonishing musicianship and barely descent overall song fluidity. However, when one views past this, we are left with wank sections and a lack of atmosphere. And of course no clear artistic intent, just flowery instrumentalism. "The Sound of Perseverance" is to be be far from being crowned a masterpiece.

Oh, the hornets nest THIS will stir up.... :) - 88%

Vic, August 5th, 2002

DEATH's latest album, The Sound of Perseverance, is certainly the finest Death album and the best metal album of 1998. Period. Words almost fail when trying to capture the brilliance of this album, but I'll give it a try. It's like the perfect Death album, a series of perfect balances - progressive yet catchy, simple yet brutal. It sums up everything Chuck has done on every previous album, takes it to the next level, and still manages to make it even better than you'd expect.

The song structures are much more involved than previous albums, making some of the songs almost like progressive-metal 'songscapes', but you never get lost in a swirl of indulgent technicality - the riffs themselves are to-the-point, visceral; you can sing riffs from songs like "Flesh and the Power It Holds" or "A Moment of Clarity" all day long. However, the blazing riffs or human-whirlwind drums on songs like "To Forgive is to Suffer" or "Scavenger of Human Sorrow" still wow the listener over and over, making one wonder where Chuck manages to find guitarists and drummers with three arms. . .

I could almost go song by song and write essays, but in the interests of space I'll just touch on the highlights: the opener, "Scavenger of Human Sorrow", is like the whole album in miniature - it goes everywhere without losing focus and still manages to say something profound. "Spirit Crusher" has some of the best 'hooks' on the album, and some of the best guitar arrangement. "Flesh and the Power it Holds" is simply a masterpiece of mood/feel swings - the opening minutes are pure sublime majesty, the middle solo section is incredible (Schuldiner at his best, easily), but they still manage to throw in a lot of fierce riffing through the verses and choruses. "Voice of the Soul" is a fantastic guitar-only composition, layered harmonies over acoustic/clean guitar strumming. "A Moment of Clarity" is my personal favorite song on the album - a progressive delight that covers more ground in nine minutes than most bands do in their entire careers (and has one of the coolest harmony solos ever recorded!). And finally, their cover of JUDAS PRIEST's "Painkiller" rules - quite a bit rawer than the original, and with more adventurous solos, but don't believe the crap he's been getting over the vocals - they totally rule. And so does this album. Get it NOW - your soul depends on it!

(Originally published in Eternal Frost Webzine #5 and LARM (c) 1999)