Death / Mantas - _Vivus!_ /_Death by Metal_
(Relapse Records, 2012)
by: Aaron McKay (10 out of 10)
Not to overstate matters, but there have been few albums released of this magnitude in the metal community. Timing is everything. New material from Death is sadly no longer an option. However, packages like live recorded material found on _Vivus!_ and Dead Sea Scroll-like and scarcely exceptional pre-Death, a.k.a. Mantas, tracks are like manna from Heaven or a watery oasis to a parched desert nomad. Just how important is this material? Well, if a fan were to say these rare, treasured releases could in any way be analogous to Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin or the mapping of the human genome -- that parallel could fall into the category of overstatement, but who's really going to argue?

The incredibly unfortunate and untimely passing of Mantas / Death founder, vocalist and all-around gifted musician, Chuck Schuldiner, in December 2001 created an inhospitable emptiness in metal. With the welcome release of _Death by Metal_ and Death live in L.A. and Eindhoven in 1998, as well as the infinitely stellar "Death to All" tour dates this year, that void seems somehow less vast.

The Mantas two disc set doesn't at first appear to cover very much ground, but the breadth and depth of its vastness is unavoidable. For example, disc one totals fourteen tracks beginning with the _Death by Metal_ demo version one, two and the 1984 rehearsal. "Legion of Doom", "Death by Metal", "Mantas", "Evil Dead" and "Power of Darkness" each progressing and developing from one song to another; "Rise of Satan" making its only one-time appearance on the CD at track fourteen; this song also the only one co-written by Rick Rozz (Death / Massacre / M Inc.). The second disc is comprised of 1984's Emotional Rehearsal Demo and a Live at Knights of Columbus Hall in Orlando, Florida that same year. The demo is made up of "Legion of Doom" (takes 1-3), "Evil Dead"(takes 1 and 2) and "Mantas" (takes 1 and 2), but gives way to the live K of C Orlando gig that is mightily worth its weight in King Midas's gold. "Legion of Doom", "Zombie", "Demon Flight", "Death by Metal", "Evil Dead", "Power of Darkness", cover of Slayer's "Black Magic", a solo by Chuck, "Beyond the Unholy Grave" and finishing with "Poison", another cover, this time by the mighty Venom.

Another two CD set is Death's _Vivus!_. The first disc is Live in L.A. at the Whiskey. In the liner notes drummer Richard Christy (Death / Acheron / Control Denied / Charred Walls of the Damned) humorously explains this show was played just a "little faster" conceivably due to the fact Mr. Christy contracted the flu that very day and might have need to increase the speed to get back to the "tour bus, vomit and sleep!" Disc 2 Live in Eindhoven that same year enjoys much of the same track listing during the duration of this eleven song set, but as mentioned before, while two songs shy of the thirteen played in L.A., the Eindhoven show was passionately and artfully played as any Death concert-goer might hope for during their lifetime. All told, "The Philosopher", "Spirit Crusher", "Trapped in a Corner", "Scavenger of Human Sorrow", "Crystal Mountain", "Flesh and the Power It Holds", "Zero Tolerance", "Suicide Machine", "Together as One", "Empty Words", "Symbolic", "Pull the Plug", "Flattening of Emotions" and "Lack of Comprehension" -- plus an undead, killer (pardon the pun) version of "Zombie Ritual" as ever has been heard await! If you are any kind of a fan or supporter of Chuck Schuldiner and/or Death and you have waited to read this review before purchasing both _Vivus!_ and _Death by Metal_, as Mr. Henry Rollins once articulated during a spoken word rant, "You suck and should be destroyed." On the flip-side, if you are just coming to learn of this quintessentially, iconic metal movement, climb aboard at this very moment and let the metal flow!

For all those wanting to learn more, begin your journey here.


(article published 29/7/2012)

3/10/2005 P Azevedo 6.5 Mantas - Zero Tolerance
10/19/2001 C Flaaten 10 Death - Live in LA - Death and Raw
9/1/1998 P Schwarz 9 Death - The Sound of Perseverance
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