In 1989, a record came out that for many, musicians and fans alike, set the standards for state of the art death metal. The album was called ‘Spiritual Healing’ and the band was appropriately named Death. Along with him, the young Death mastermind Chuck Schuldiner had a likewise young bass-player called Terry Butler.
Butler had been in Massacre (whose grand opus ‘From Beyond’ to this remains one a seminal piece within the genre along with Death’s work) before that, so one could argue that the man was circling around the roots of what we’d define as old-school death metal today.
And despite the fact the Butler played in a mainstream rock band somewhere between Death and Six Feet Under, you have to hand it to the man: he stayed true. It’s entirely up to you to decide whether you think it’s cool or sad that the album he’s just released with SFU in many ways is so close to ‘Spiritual Healing’ that it almost makes an old-school geek like me weep.
Ever since this CD started spinning in my disc-player a few days ago, I’ve been thinking what an effect it would’ve had back then – how crushing it would’ve been, how whiplashed I would’ve been if this had been 1989 and not 2007 where we’ve basically heard everything.
Before I succumb completely into nostalgic pondering, I better give you an assessment of the album: ‘Commandment’ is old-school death metal, no more, no less. The riffs are SO 1988-89 and for me, that always holds some quality when we’re talking death metal.
It’s by all means a solid effort, the minuses in my book being Barnes’ occasional somewhat silly squeals and the fact that…well, face it, SFU stand still in terms of originality. Technically, no one can put a finger on the ten-song effort – relaxed tightness in a death-rocking way.
Recommended for old-school folk not unlike myself – for an evening of updated nostalgia.