When thinking of Halloween-themed music, the work of Death is probably not what first springs to mind. The impression of the late Chuck Schuldiner most of us are left with is one of a visionary artist who strove to lift death metal from its primitive roots in horror, gore and blasphemy into a more sophisticated and thought provoking art form. However, the fact is, Chuck played a significant role in growing those roots. Before Chuck’s perennial quest to cross the cosmic sea and climb the crystal mountain, to see through dreams and listen to the voice of the soul, “Saint” Chuck was “Evil” Chuck, and all he wanted to do was…
Before he was an icon, before he was a legend, Chuck was a skinny teenager obsessed with death, horror, gore and making the most brutal metal imaginable. Scream Bloody Gore is a sonic celebration of the macabre. Every song deals with some form of the dead, the undead, the evil dead, or the soon to be dead. Death, at this point, could not have been more aptly named. The musical accompaniment to Chuck’s lyrical nightmare is every bit as frightening: Chuck, along with drummer Chris Reifert, delivers a performance that is one part shambling horror and six hundred sixty six parts maniacal violence. Nowhere is this more evident than in Chuck’s vocals. On Scream Bloody Gore, Chuck sounds positively unhinged, screaming, growling, roaring and howling with a reckless, youthful abandon that he would never recapture on subsequent releases. Death would go on to make much deeper, more challenging music in its legendary career, but for pure, bloody fun, the band would never top Scream Bloody Gore.
Scream Bloody Gore, as its title suggests, is bursting with gore like a heap of bloated corpses, and as such, it is more ghastly than spooky. In keeping with the Halloween theme, however, let us wade through the carnage to focus on the tracks on the album that feature a supernatural element. First up is “Zombie Ritual”, a quaint little tale about everyone’s favorite type of flesh-eating re-animated corpse.
Drink from the goblet
The goblet of gore
Taste the Zombie’s drug,
Now you want more
Drifting from the living,
Joining with the dead
Zombie dwelling maggots,
Now infest your head
Next is “Regurgitated Guts”, which tells the story of a preacher who commits suicide, goes to Hell, and is returned to the world of living for the express purpose of feasting on your entrails.
And lastly, there is “Baptized in Blood”, which deals with a demonic ritual involving an infant that is destined to become an undead messiah, or some crazy shit like that. Young Charles Schuldiner had one vivid, fucked-up imagination.
Is Scream Bloody Gore the ideal soundtrack for handing out fun-size Snickers and Kit Kat bars to costumed grade schoolers? Probably not, if you want any return customers next year. But, if you want to run around your neighborhood wielding a bloody meat clever, and scare the ever-loving shit out of those little bastards, this is the album to crank while you get into character (Seriously, don’t fucking do that; you’ll get arrested).