Death's Bloody Gore (Mighty Lambchop's Heavy Metal Nails # 7)

Good morning!

Today we continue our journey through heavy metal and begin to wade into "extreme" metal. We will discuss  a genre very important to me, Death Metal.

Death Metal spawns from Thrash and the early Black Metal sound. We will focus on the three archetypes of death metal; brutal, technical and melodic. Death Metal is best known for its blast beat drumming, growled "Cookie Monster" vocals, atonality and complex guitar playing. Lyrical themes for Death Metal have typically been Occultic, political, philosophical, horror or gore and science fiction. (Yes, science fiction. The Metal Inquisition has thoroughly covered the Nocturnus Time Machine. Try not to make jokes using any reference from that album now.)
Death Metal has in turn been influential in modern Black Metal, Grindcore and other sub-subgenres that are either way too "progressive" or utterly dissonant for me to be bothered with.

So, let's talk about the archetypes. Brutal Death Metal is characterized more by its gore/horror lyrical themes. Many bands in the brutal category embrace the technical aspects but the song structures may not be as complex as those in tech. Essentially, brutal Death Metal is supposed to be powerful, scary and really, really fast.

Technical Death Metal is pretty much metal for metal musicians. Like avant garde jazz for jazz musicians. These are people who know how to play their instruments, yo. The arrangements are fucking insane and the speed that they are played at are diabolical. You don't just pick up a guitar and start playing Death Metal. That shit is work.
Lyrical themes run the gamut, however, most tend to fall firmly in anti-religious/Satanic sentiment or philosophical musing/Ethical Humanism. Or Nihilists vs. Pacifists, if you prefer.

Melodic Death Metal is well, melodic. Kinda says it all. This flavor incorporates many influences from NWOBHM, giving their songs more choruses or chants and more melodic riffing. This style was pretty much owned by bands from Sweden, particularly in the city of Gothenburg in the 1990s. 
(I must point out that though Death Metal is global, the genre was basically defined by Sweden and Florida. Which is why you may have read things about the Tampa sound or some such.)

Now that we've established all that, I want to talk about Death. Not the cessation of life but the band.

Death was formed by Chuck Schuldiner in 1983 in Orlando, Florida under the name of Mantas. The name change came in 1984. It was said that Chuck renamed the band Death in order to make the experience of losing his older brother into something positive. The band went through a lot of turmoil with lineup changes, many recorded demos and found Chuck moving to the Bay Area of California. He eventually returned to Florida and managed to cobble together a lineup stable enough to sign to Combat Records and release Scream Bloody Gore in 1987.
I discovered Death and their first album in 1989 after having devoured every bit of Thrash I could find. I figured they were another Thrash band with a cool albeit generic name. Oh boy, was I in for it. When I first played SBG, I was terrified. It really did scare me. I never heard vocals like that. I was so scared that after I listened to the whole cassette, I put it away in my desk drawer for a couple of months. Then I heard the Spiritual Healing album and I was transfixed.

Gone but never forgotten.

Death is credited with being one of the first Death Metal bands, along side Possessed; whose singer coined the term "Death Metal." Chuck Schuldiner himself is known as the"Father of Death Metal" though he disavowed the acknowledgment. He felt he was just another guy in a metal band. That kind of modesty recurs often when discussing Chuck. To so many he was just a really nice guy.
I feel Death is the single most influential of the genre. The band laid the foundation for Brutal and Technical Death metal musically and lyrically.
Early recordings featured horror/gore lyrics and the first wave of the growled, indecipherable vocal. Spiritual Healing was the first record to lessen the growls a touch and lyrically began exploring social issues and philosophy. Each recording became more complex musically and lyrically as Chuck explored more of his own philosophy. He was known to be anti-drug, an animal lover and pro-choice. I would say his spirituality was a mix of the metaphysical and Secular Humanism. 
Later, Chuck put Death on hold to focus on a new project called Control Denied. Control Denied was more a progressive band with elements of power metal and death metal and it was a direction that he simply could not take Death into. QuoteFor me, it is just a matter of evolving, doing it the right way. I didn't put out a Death record with this stuff on it. I made the right choice and changed the name of the band. I tried to do everything the right way.
(That's the way you do it. Unlike bands that may or may not have a diminutive Dane in their ranks. Don't piss off the fans, yo.)

Sadly, Chuck Schuldiner died on December 13, 2001 after a long battle with brain cancer. The story is particularly compelling today with the health care controversy in the U.S. Musicians don't normally get health insurance and can't always afford to buy their own. Which is something that Chuck Schuldiner had to face. When he was able to buy his own coverage after his cancer returned, he was denied payment for treatment because his brain tumor was a preexisting condition. He eventually received treatment thanks to benefit concerts and donations from fans. Unfortunately, that treatment left him susceptible to infection and he fell ill with pneumonia. He died at home one hour after being released from the hospital.
I remember coming home that night and checking my email to find notice and I was devastated.

His legacy lives on and it's been reported that work will be finished sometime this year on the final Control Denied album. There was the Death To All Tour earlier this summer,celebrating Chuck's life and work as well as a benefit for Sweet Relief, a fund for musicians who are facing illness, disability and age-related problems.
Chuck Schuldiner was a perfectionist with a vision who pioneered a new sound and direction for heavy metal. Most importantly, he would have wanted to be remembered as that guy in that band who loved his family and friends.

My picks for Death:
EVERYTHING. The evolution of the music is amazing. Also, you should check out Control Denied. Do it.

Whoa, talk about heavy. So, let's move on to my tribute manicure:
This was really hard for me to do because I couldn't think of what exactly to do. Until I found inspiration:

Death's Leprosy album

Leprosy nails

No, this is not pretty. Nor is it sensitive. But I did it.
I used Max Factor Fever Flesh for the base. I applied China Glaze Naughty and Nice to my nails with a dry brush and the end of a pencil eraser. I dry brushed China Glaze Grape Pop randomly on each nail. Then I took a brush dipped in acetone and gently patted all around. I also sponged Butter London Bumster and Essie Chinchilly then used the acetone again. I finished by sponging China Glaze Matte Magic on each nail but the ring finger. I did the Death logo with Kiss Nail Artist pen in black on the ring finger and finished it with top coat. 
I was also more insensitive by posing with a zombie hand cupcake decoration. Which was my homage to Scream Bloody Gore. I am a bad, bad lamb...

I've been asked before why *I* like Death Metal. Meaning, how does a woman like something like this? Well, I have always said that I find metal to be empowering. Death Metal was especially so for me because I was 13, irrationally and inexplicably angry and I was becoming wise to the injustices of the world around me. I was also a burgeoning feminist who had grown weary of the sexist and misogynistic drivel coming out of the glam scene. Death Metal could be shocking when I wanted to piss people off. Death Metal allowed me to be angry and talk about it. Death Metal made me more sensitive to violence and to the suffering of others. Until I did this manicure, anyway.

Other bands to check out:
At The Gates - My favorite of the Gothenburg sound
Morbid Angel

Here's a little bit about Nocturnus and their album The Key.
I liked it a lot back when and I still like it now even though it is rather silly.

That will do it for today. Next, we will talk about Black Metal. That will end up taking two posts because, holy bats, there is a lot to talk about there.
Thank you for coming by, hope you have a great day!

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