After a raft of classic album re-issues has shone a spotlight on some of metals very foundations, it’s now the turn of Death‘s genre defining magnum opus Scream Bloody Gore to get exhumed. The ferocious debut has been dusted down, repackaged and the kitchen sink thrown at it in the form of a two disc remastered set, a three disc set or double vinyl which features bonus content from the original sessions, previously unreleased recordings and rehearsal demos, super-expanded packaging, and brand-new extensive liner notes from former Death drummer / Autopsy founder Chris Reifert, Sepultura’s Max Cavalera, and original Scream Bloody Gore producer Randy Burns. As a tribute to what is largely considered the first ever proper Death Metal album, the deluxe set is as reverent as you’d probably want it to be and a fitting salute to the late Chuck Schuldiner‘s (possibly) greatest musical moments.
Reviewing a classic album is a bit like stating the obvious, most people know musically what it’s like, hell it’s 30 years old for Chuck’s sake and as such there is nothing to add in terms of critique. Has it aged well though? Yes of course it has and having been skilfully remastered by Alan Douches who has cut his teeth with contemporary Death Metal luminaries Nile as well as Death themselves and Mastodon, the sound is vibrant and crisp, showcasing the album in all its g(l)orey.
Technology may have advanced and bands that have stood on the shoulders of giants like Death and Obituary, may have pushed the genre further, harder and heavier than Scream Bloody Gore, but that does not always equate to better.
Cookie cutter vocals and blast beats are the thing de rigour in this day and age, but whilst there are a few bands out there making some interesting moves, hearing Death‘s signature album again with a fresh take on the production showcases the very reason why it’s so highly regarded. The vocals have more in common with gruff thrash rather than a guttural roar, the lyrics are (by comparison) intelligible and the music is technical but has a groove and a sense of melody that might not be ‘brootal’ by today’s standards but sure make it the most enjoyable Death Metal album I have listened to in years.
From the opening screams of Infernal Death to the churning thrash of Land Of No Return with its break neck solo and abrupt ending, this is every bit the quintessential Death Metal album; there is the almost Middle Eastern melodies of Evil Dead, the savagery of the title track, literally every track stands out in some way which will come as no surprise to read given this album has long been considered a benchmark as it drips with metal, hardcore punk and the gritty horror films of Gorge Romero.
As for the extras, the second disc is packed with the previously unreleased original Florida sessions which consist of guitar and drums only, but were deemed disappointing by the label on initial hearing and the band decamped to Los Angeles for a second crack of the whip. Obviously only partial instrumentals, these are by no means vital listening but they are interesting for completists to hear the variations in performance as despite the dip in quality sound wise, the delivery is every bit as furious as you would expect.
Tracks 20 to 29 are the rehearsal sessions prior to the recordings and they are every bit as raw as you would imagine. Again more of a live collection that would appeal to collectors (but then why else would you purchase such a hefty reissue?) this is a coarse, low lo-fi pummelling from start to finish that adds a nice counter point to the polished shiny version contained on the first disc.
The third disc comes with 40 plus minutes of never before heard demo and rehearsal material from May 1986 and is part of a set packaged in a deluxe foil stamped 8 panel digipack numbered to 2000 copies.
Once described as a turning point in extreme music Scream Bloody Gore stands up as proudly today as it did at the time of release and this loving compiled reissue looks to pay tribute to the power and majesty that founded a genre. It’s ugly, it’s raw and above all it’s brutal in terms of sound and lyrical content that seeks to offend and challenge as all extreme music should. It’s everything Death Metal stands for.
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden