DEATH (1983–2001). Chuck Schuldiner (vocals/guitar), Shannon Hamm (guitar), Scott Clendenin (bass), Richard Christy (drums).
Death were one of the earliest and most influential death metal bands. The band originally started as Mantas (named after the stage name of guitarist Jeff Dunn of Venom) led by guitarist and band mainstay Chuck Schuldiner. After hearing early
death metal band Possessed, the band moved away from a black metal direction toward more of a straightforward death metal sound. After an aborted attempt to make this type of music work in Florida, Schuldiner moved to the more active San Francisco scene. There he recruited like-minded drummer Chris Reifert to record the quintessential Scream Bloody Gore record, which was among the heaviest and most shocking death metal records of its time.
By the time of the 1990 release Spiritual Healing, Death was selling over 50,000 copies of their records, a high point for a band in the underground extreme metal scene. Numerous personnel changes began to take their toll in the mid-nineties and by the late nineties, Death had changed musical directions (as had most of the other early death metal bands) and was playing in a more progressive, but still sped-up, direction. After a lackluster final album, The Sound of Perseverance, the band went on hiatus and Schuldiner concentrated on his side project, the even more progressive-oriented Control Denied, before succumbing to cancer in December of 2001. Their legacy lives on in the recorded output, and the first three records in particular are highly recommended for those wanting to get a taste of the rawest of the death metal sound. Not for the timid or faint of heart.
Discography: Scream Bloody Gore (Combat, 1987); Leprosy (Combat, 1988); Spiritual Healing (Combat, 1990); Human (Combat, 1991); Individual Thought Patterns (Combat, 1993); Symbolic (Roadrunner, 1995); Sound of Perseverance (Nuclear Blast, 1998); Vinyl Collection (Combat, 2000); Live in L.A.: Death & Raw (Nuclear Blast, 2001); Live at Eindhoven (Nuclear Blast, 2002).j