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Death By Metal

Mantas

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Album Review

Before there was Death, there was Mantas: Chuck Schuldiner's fledgling high school band whose improbably prolific and well-documented demo recordings oftentimes trump — in terms of influence if not sales, obviously — entire official discographies by lesser heavy metal geniuses. Hence the release of Death by Metal, a 14-track collection of demo tapes and rehearsals captured by Schuldiner, fellow guitarist Rick Rozz, and drummer Kam Lee in 1984 (several more demos and dozens of songs would follow), some three years before Death's proper first album, Scream Bloody Gore. Speaking of…but one of the songs contained here — the blazingly thrashy zombie tale "Evil Dead" — survived long enough to appear in said debut, making this collection a minor treasure trove of embryonic death metal for die-hard fans and extreme metal historians alike — so long as they're not put off by its muffled recording and the fact that only five truly "lost" tracks are featured, cast in duplicate or even triplicate versions. Frankly, evolutionary variations between these versions are nominal, at best, and the marginally improved sound quality of the live rehearsal session contained here barely a selling point, so the appeal to serious metal anthropologists will lie in recognizing the different thrash and speed metal influences pervading fairly distinctive onslaughts like "Legion of Doom," "Death by Metal" and "Power of Darkness" — all of them testaments to Schuldiner's precocious vision. And, rather fittingly, the especially blistering "Mantas" is a bona fide Venom-styled scorcher and a deserved tribute to the Newcastle band's guitarist, whose stage name was appropriated by the band. Now, whether Death by Metal will find enough paying customers to justify further reissues of Death's ample demo-graphy remains to be seen, but in light of Schuldiner's premature demise from cancer in 2001, chances are his estate overseers won't resist sharing at least a little more of his early body of work with the world.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s

Mantas was the band formed by erstwhile Venom guitarist Jeff Dunn (aka Mantas, naturally) following his acrimonious departure from the group, and their glossy, synthesizer-driven hard rock sound was indeed a far cry from the legendarily crude black metal pioneers. Not that the latter in any way translated into increased record sales, since the group's 1988 debut album — aptly named Winds of Change, and actually recorded four years earlier — was released by the promotionally challenged...
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Death By Metal, Mantas
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