Music as Frivolity and Fashion

Recently, I had the benefit of speaking with a friend of mine who happens to work for a subsidiary of a large music label in New York City.  He’s a low-level data analyst at a company that scouts new talent and connects them with producers and executives for new deals.  In other words, he looks at the numbers—sales, web hits, video views, etc.—and processes them for executives to decide how to pitch new pieces.  He was telling me how the field has become so stratified and how an overwhelming bulk of listeners were consuming a miniscule handful of musical artists—the top ten or fifteen singles of any given cycle are all coming from the same circle of people.  Intuitively, coming from a culture that at least pays lip service to meritocracy, you’d think that these top artists would be the cream of the crop, both as artistic and musical geniuses, right?  Until you realize that he’s actually talking about the Justin Biebers, the Beyoncés, and the Katy Perrys.  It isn’t that the music is particularly good, it’s just that everyone happens to be listening to it. Continue reading “Music as Frivolity and Fashion”

Death – Individual Thought Patterns (1993)

Chuck Schuldiner – guitars, vocals, production
Andy LaRocque – guitar
Steve DiGiorgio – bass
Gene Holgan – drums, guitars

Two years after the most significant shift in Death’s sound, Individual Thought Patterns hit shelves in mid-June of 1993, marking yet another transmutation of style and direction. Although maintaining the high standard of musicianship set by the last album, the mix of talent and the execution of Schuldiner’s experimental ideas fall short of the heights Death had proven itself capable of. Continue reading “Death – Individual Thought Patterns (1993)”

Death – Human (1991)

Released – 1991

Chuck Schuldiner – guitars, vocals, production
Paul Masvidal – guitar
Steve DiGiorgio – bass
Sean Reinert – drums, percussion

1991 saw the release of Human, bringing Death and Chuck Schuldiner at last into the a realm hitherto unseen before in extreme metal. Aspects of this development had already been foreshadowed by other bands, including Schuldiner’s own output prior—Spiritual Healing precipitated some of it, to be sure—but nothing had come before that saw the level of technical virtuosity, compositional complexity, intensity, and pure pleasure of listening all put together in one package of extreme metal before quite like Human. Continue reading “Death – Human (1991)”

Death – Spiritual Healing (1990)

Recorded – 1989
Released – February 16, 1990

Chuck Schuldiner – guitars, vocals
James Murphy – guitar
Terry Butler – bass
Bill Andrews – drums
Eric Greif – Keyboard

The last of Death’s “pre-prog” period of death metal, Spiritual Healing presents a more refined approach than what was present on the sledgehammer of Scream Bloody Gore or the baseball bat of malice present in Leprosy. This album isn’t a single, somewhat unwieldly bludgeoning weapon of sonic destruction like the last two; it’s a bit more dynamic, better presented, and more complex both in music and in lyrics. Continue reading “Death – Spiritual Healing (1990)”

Death – Leprosy (1988)

Chuck Schuldiner – guitars, bass, vocals
Rick Rozz – guitar
Bill Andrews – drums

Recorded – 1988
Released – 1988

Within the year that Scream Bloody Gore was released, Death had already begun work on songs that would form their next album, Leprosy. A musical product greater than its predecessor, Leprosy was at once exhilarating and entertaining while at the same time less of an achievement or benchmark for the emergent extreme metal genre. Continue reading “Death – Leprosy (1988)”

Rosenfeld – Pigs of the Empire (1991)

When I think of Japan, I usually don’t think of Nazi shock “rock”, but maybe I should, because Tokyo has its fair share of bands that fall into this unconventional category. One of these bands is Rosenfeld, and today I review their album “Pigs of the Empire”. It’s an unconventional piece of extreme thrash metal of the same caliber as Morbid Saint, Demolition Hammer and Num Skull. Sadly, this album wouldn’t see the same underground success that the aforementioned bands did, as it never really got exposure outside of Japan. Continue reading “Rosenfeld – Pigs of the Empire (1991)”

Death – Scream Bloody Gore

It’s October, so this month I’ll be starting a specific column on Chuck Schuldiner’s famous and esteemed death metal outfit, the aptly-named Death. Every extreme metal listener and fan has an opinion of Death, and generally speaking, most listeners are fans of at least one portion of the group’s outfit. Whether it’s “older Death” or “later Death,” most can agree that the man almost entirely behind the outfit, the remarkably talented Chuck Schuldiner, accomplished feats in the genre that few can boast of, while aspiring still toward what even fewer have attempted since. Continue reading “Death – Scream Bloody Gore”

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