Death's legacy is one that simply can't be messed with. 7 Albums that spanned so many different fans, bands, metalheads, and what could possible be done with death metal. While the band was only around for 11 years; they are arguably the most important band in all of death metal in terms of originality, style, lyrics, and more. Today I am taking the impossible task of ranking these albums 7 to 1. I will stress right now that I love every single death album and it is rare for me to listen to Death and not go out of my way to listen to the entire discography. While that may sound like a daunting task in and of itself; it's only 5 hours, but a worthy 5 hours. I will also say that there is no wrong order to ranks these albums. We may disagree on the other of 1 or all 7 albums, but that is a great things because that means people are appreciating al 7 albums, as they should be. Is this list I'm about to make final? With Death, that's almost impossible as it changes even for myself, BUT, more often than not, this is the order I will go with. So let's get to it!
1.) No EPs, cover albums, live albums, b-side albums, or best of/greatest hits collections. Just original studio LPs. Albums that have a cover or two on it are just fine.
2.) This is just my opinions on the albums in question. No outside influences other than my own and is far from a definitive world ranking. If you have a different ranking, AWESOME! Keep that up!
3.) The reason for doing this to help people get into a band/artist/etc and give ideas of what to expect if they decide to dive into the work.
4.) This is ranked from least favorite to favorite (countdown/TRL style). I will give a few words about every album as we go down the list.
5.) There will be a Spotify playlist (where applicable) to go along with the list with a song off each album so you can get another idea of what to expect. The songs will either be my favorite song off the album or one that represents the album the best in my eyes. (if you are reading this on social media, click the official link to get the playlist)
6.) Have fun and spread the word....SPREAD IT!
7.) Spiritual Healing (1990)
Chuck Schuldiner's 3rd album is a great take on religion with it's fantastic album cover and title track. The rest of the album contains that signature death metal sound that you heard on the band's previous two albums, but it was beginning to experiment with it's sound. More proggier moments, more song structure differences, and above all, the music was getting much more technical and melodic. Lyrically, it started focusing more on life and what is going on with it, rather than just horror themes, but that is a great thing to accomplish with spreading your wings and showing all that can be done with a genre. This is a fantastic album that is worthy of it's underrated praise in the midst of all of Death's work.
6.) Individual Thought Patterns (1993)
It really took till the 2011 remix of this album to fully appreciate everything that was going on with Individual Thought Patterns. Much like Metallica's ...And Justice For All, the bass is nearly impossible to hear, the rest of the production feels low as well, but what it lacked behind the board, it made up for in front of it. The band seemed to be in turmoil for a lot of it's years, but that also led to some of the band's work. The Philosopher is a great example of that with the song being a shot at former guitarist, Paul Masvidal; which was also featured on Beavis and Butthead.. But outside of that. This marked the first of two albums drummed by Gene Hoglan. Overall, Individual Thought Patterns was the last album that featured the signature Chuck death growls before switching over to screaming and while the music was becoming more and more intricate and less of the signature death metal sound, it signaled that times had to change for the band and that was sure to come with the band's last two albums.
5.) Human (1991)
Human was the last album of 4 in 5 years (87-91) and the band was going as strong as it possibly could at this time. Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert made their only appearances with the band on this album before forming Cynic. This was also the first album where the technical side of the band really began to flourish and show that the band was much more than a horror themed metal band, but actually a quite intriguing, and intellectual band. Many consider this album to be that perfect blend of technical and death metal, which influenced so many bands to later form the technical death metal genre. It's understandable why as this album is worthy of the praise and love it gets to this very day.
4.) Scream Bloody Gore (1987)
The first Death album, and what some consider to be be one of the first, pure death metal albums. This album is primal, horror inspired from start to finish, and has a sense of originality that was just unheard of at the time. It's just about 38 minutes and every second is filled with that signature sound that so many bands would try to replicate immediately after release. If you want an introduction into everything that would eventually be possible in metal, Scream Bloody Gore not only opened the door to extreme metal, death metal, and of course later technical and progressive death metal; they butchered the door. Go listen and understand why.
3.) Symbolic (1995)
This album is 25 years old this year and nothing makes sense anymore...ANYWAYS... Symbolic is the first album to feature screams instead of growls, which was a huge watershed moment for not only the band, but death metal in general. Chuck's voice became sounding more like a black metal singer and in turned, that led more bands to try the idea of progressive black metal down the road. The core essence of the band is still here, but you can also tell that this was a last album for the band. Chuck even wanted this to be the last Death album as he wanted to set his focus to Control Denied. Many people say this is the band's best album, and I totally understand that notion. It has everything from perfect production, fantastic songwriting, and proficiency and that overall sense that music was really changing in general. If you haven't you may even want to start with Symbolic to see where technical and progressive music fleshed out with death metal seamlessly.
2.) The Sound of Perseverance (1998)
The final death album, that actually was meant to be the first Control Denied album. This is the most vastly different album in Death's whole catalog and for that reason, it is either widely loved or hated. I am of the former, this album was my introduction to the band thanks to the magnificent drumming of Richard Christy. The album is pretty much a death metal record in vocals only, but of course, this was also of Chuck's latter screaming era vocals. It's over the top technical music performed by some of the best musicians to ever grace the band. The end of the album also features a cover of Judas Priest's Painkiller, which may be the band's most notorious cover. Overall, if you like your death metal on the far extreme end of musical proficiency, you are going to love The Sound of Perseverance, I know I do.
1.) Leprosy (1998)
Funny enough, on the bands opposite end of the spectrum, does lie my favorite Death album. Many people know me as a prog guy who loves music in different time signatures with different genres and instrumentation, but sometimes...sometimes I just want that primal rage to come out and attack. That's what Leprosy accomplished. Taking everything that made Scream Bloody Gore created it and perfected it with better songwriting, better production and the most killer instrumentation of the pure death metal era of the band; this is THE death metal album to me. There's so many great ones, ones that you could say are better than this, bands you could say are better than Death, entire genres that are better than this, but to me; Death's Leprosy stands alone. Death Metal truly made it's mark in 1988, 32 years ago this year...damn I'm going to be 32 this year, let's get to the end of this shall we?
Chuck Schuldiner created not only the death metal sound you know and love, but also helped create what would later become technical death metal, progressive death metal, and to an extent, progressive black metal. Chuck was taken away far too soon in 2001. Thankfully, his memory forever lies on between these 7 albums from Death (and 1 Control Denied album, seriously, go check out The Fragile Art of Existence, it's mindblowing). One of my all time favorite bands can never die. Thank you Chuck and Co past and present for making Death a reality.
Until next time, this is That Drummer Guy saying, SEE YA!