Whether it’s songs like “Cosmic Sea” or “Trapped In A Corner”, Death always traversed a unique musical terrain. Deriving from intricate thrash structures, they took Celtic Frost like blueprint to unprecedented heights – made it more threatening and bleak. But, instead of the more gruesome death metal attributes like blast beats, atonality and deeper growls — Death emphasized coherent structural progression and melody.
‘The Sound of Perseverance’ (1998) is a genuinely dazzling confluence of these early influences and more. It’s well-tailored to quickly envelop a progressive metal disciple or a death metal-head. The record straddles this beautifully complex ground between progressive musical sensibilities and sheer sonic savagery of extreme metal. At the margins of these two demanding genres, Death successfully crafts this exquisite bridge from a Dream Theater to a Morbid Angel. This overall immersive experience can be elegantly summarized in Chuck Schuldiner’s own lyrics: “touch, taste, breathe, consumed”.
Widely varying transitions are graceful and numerous. Baffling how an At The Gates like guitar imprint runs into a razor steel Priestly guitars, finally exploding into an Obituary like mid-paced chugging. The good old signature riff-drum pattern of Death is also omnipresent. ‘The Sound of Perseverance’ acknowledges the progressive side to Death, and does that without significant deviations from their death metal roots. Essentially the same old harsh melodic guitar tones, screaming vocals and scathing leads interleaved with intricate passages — but now restructured into a progressive death symphony.
While firmly grounded in thrash roots, over the years, Death pursued a guided musical trajectory of progressive refinement. Emphasizing that crucial New Wave of British Heavy Metal artistry and sophistication – it’s essentially Iron Maiden’s melody reconciled with Hellhammer like brutal force. This constant duality in Death’s composition was always shifting in a progressive direction. So, for the longtime fans, ‘The Sound of Perseverance’ must have been a lot like the very last song from the record – “Open my eyes wide to see a moment of clarity”.