DEATH SS - Discography of a legend

Among the most brilliant - and underestimated - realities of the Italian Heavy metal, a place of honor certainly belongs to this group with an almost legendary history and full of grey areas.
The band was founded in 1977 by two boys from Pesaro (Stefano Silvestri and Paolo Catena, Steve Sylvester and Pau Chain) who were passionate about rock, horror films, esotericism and erotic comics; for the moniker, they decide to refer to the poetic form of the poems ("In Morte di ....") and thus the name "In Death of Steve Sylvester" (linked to the physical death of the singer and his rebirth as another entity) was born, sadly abbreviated to Death SS, which will attract and still attracts criticism about a certain political closeness to the right, always denied by the band itself.

The members of the group use stage costumes linked to horror imagery (Steve Sylvester, for example, is the vampire) and set up their shows by filling the stage with objects desecrated in cemeteries and naked dancers. Their performances are rightfully included in the legend for scenic impact and for songs of great quality, even if unfortunately there are no video testimonies of this period (and even in studio things are not going great: a demo is made - The Horned God of the Witches - in only 2 copies ...). For personal differences Steve leaves the group in 1982, disappearing from the scene; Paul Chain carries on the band until 1984 replacing the singer and releasing an EP in a few copies ("Evil Metal") and, following the dissolution, the collection "The Story of Death SS 1977-1984", containing a large part of the production of the group.
At the end of 1989, Steve Sylvester reappears in Florence and puts the band back on its feet with another formation, taking possession of the catalog of the first years and gradually releasing it in the studio publications and in the "Horror Music" and "The Horned" collections. "God of the Witches "(featuring the cover of the famous demo above and very dear to me). The group's recording debut (whose formation will undergo a series of changes over the years such that we would need a separate post) dates back to 1988 and it is from here that our journey begins.

A true concept album of horror: each track speaks of an evil creature, from the mummy to death, from zombies to vampire (Vampire is one of the great classics of the group), recovering pieces of the first incarnation of the band, which can be pigeonholed even if with difficulty in a very original doom metal, enriched by the acid and theatrical voice of Steve that leading us in the dark meanders of fear, reaching its peak in the spectacular "Terror" (what I have renamed the "Black Sabbath"). Special mention for the semi ballad "The Hangman ballad" and for the earthquake "Murder Angel". A habit of the group in these releases will be the inclusion of a cover, in this case, "I Love the Dead" by Alice Cooper.

The journey of the previous album continues, the sounds become even darker if possible, as evidenced by the monumental title track, but we see epic nuances as in the opener "Kings of Evil". Unmissable the great classics of the past such as "Horrible Eyes", "Cursed Mama" and "Buried Alive". As a cover for this round, we find "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar... not the most successful in fact. Anthemic album since the iconoclastic cover.

The recovery path of the songs of the past is completed with this splendid work which, however, accentuates the stylistic heterogeneity that will be the basis of the following releases: unleash "Where have you Gone" and the live song "Heavy Demons" and "earthquake " Peace of Mind "which in fact will become the opening track of most of their shows. Atomic Rooster (one of Steve's most loved bands) is honored on this tour with "Death walks beside you" (encouraging).

A lot of years pass and the group comes back with several novelties: first of all an evolution of stage costumes towards more modern shores, a choice that is also reflected in the musical proposal in a Crowley-based concept. The sounds become more rocky and powerful, the keyboards come into play and the electronics peep out, which from here on will become a fixed presence, all this without losing a drop of the black halo of the proposal: the semi-tribal "Baron Samedi" is thrilling. like the epics Scarlet Woman "(what a chorus !!) and" Guardian Angel ", but the whole record is on other qualitative values, without flaws or fillers.

CHAPTER 5: PANIC (2000).
Probably the best-selling record of the band, as well as on my personal podium (and I don't think I'm the only one). The group's modernist turn continues by incorporating punk-like elements as in the irresistible "Let The Sabbath Begins" (absolutely perfect and morbid), in the dark-glam "Hi-Tech Jesus", passing through the persuasive "Lady of Babylon" and "Ishtar", up to the earthquake of the title-track; separate mention deserves the doom masterpiece of "The Equinox of the Gods", perhaps my favorite piece. Worthy of note is the vocal intervention of Alejandro Jodorowski in the intro and outro and the presence of two covers, "Rabies is a Killer" and "Ermaphrodite" (the song that convinced me the least).

The previous album is so much loved as this one wasn't much appreciated. On the cover, and not only, it refers to "Welcome to My Nightmare". For a concept on the circus of monstrosities and horror, the good Steve pushes the pedal of modernity even further, which here reaches its greatest use. All this without retreating on the level of wickedness, as evidenced by the various Grand Guignol, Feast of Fools and Evil Freaks. The album also contains one of the most beautiful songs of the new millennium of the band, the dreamy Sinful Dove. As strange as it is disturbing, the single "Pain" drowns the listener in human drama under a dance-like carpet. Luxury cover this round, "Sympathy for the Devil".

The album that somehow closes the circle on the second incarnation of Death SS. Behind a cover that presents Cellini's Christ (same work used by Angra for "Rebirth"), we find a work where the elements of the previous albums intertwine in a more harmonious way, considerably softening the electronic component in favor of a more classic approach. the blow in the teeth comes immediately with "Giv'em Hell" (also used by the Italian Wrestling federation), closely followed by the sulphurous Venus'Gliph and the powerful "Der Golem" (with a wild refrain). The rest of the album is perhaps less immediate but full of fascinating nuances, as evidenced by the dark ballad "S.I.A.G.F.O.M." and the monumental title track (complete with Black Widow's Clive Jones sax solo). A curiosity: the first edition of the album (which I do not own, unfortunately) was wrapped in parchment paper closed with a wax-lacquer seal; to access the album it was therefore necessary to break the seal, thus joining a mysterious pact with Steve Sylvester... more disturbing than that...

After participating in some fiction and the creation of some solo works, our affectionate Steve puts his creature back on track (and we thank you) with a record that recovers these contributions by adding some unreleased tracks, creating a sort of collection of unreleased tracks, perhaps a bit too uneven and loose, but full of great tunes. We appreciate at the beginning the electronic "Revived", made for the episode "666" De "Inspector Coliandro" (an episode in which Steve plays... himself... a must-see !!!), as well as the various "Darkest Night" and "Santa Muerte". Among the unpublished jewels, I point out some jewels such as "The Crimson Shrine", "Dyonisius" and "The Song of Adoration", among the best songs ever written by Death SS. Curious then the obscure "The Devil's Grail" inspired by the facts of the Monster of Florence and the final rocking "Bad Luck" which without mincing words makes all those who believe that pronouncing the group's name in full brings bad luck (sad superstition that the band carries along with misunderstandings about the name).

The "Heavy Demons" of the third incarnation of the band? Perhaps as a statement, it is a bit strong, I recognize it, but here we find all the characteristics of that classic, first of all in a musical heterogeneity as unsettling as it is representative of the proposal of the band that likes to amaze since the opening, placing the anti-opener par excellence such as "Black Soul", a slow song with a suffering course (a black pearl of beautiful pain). The title track is as fun and rocking as the subsequent Hellish Knights is powerful. The Death SS make them the animal rights cause (among other things Steve Sylvester runs a vegan restaurant in Florence) with "The Slaughterhouse", before giving us another real gem such as the wonderful "Madness Of Love". To report the recovery of some b-sides of the singles of 2018, "Zombie Massacre", "Witches' Dance" and "The Gloy of the Hawk" before saying goodbye with the direct "Forever", a promise... and a threat...

There are several songs, some beautiful, which have not found a place on the aforementioned albums but which in my opinion deserve a place of honor. For the songs of the first line-up, I certainly recommend the collections "The Story of Death SS 1977-1984" and "The Horned God of the Witches", while for the more recent songs it may be interesting to try to recover the very rare "All The Colors of the Dark ", which presents among the various pearls also the wild" Transylvania "dedicated to The chain of restaurants of the same name (how many memories ....).
Sorry for the prolixity of this article but, as you can see, there were so many things to say...
"Joy for all, not control
Free for all, body and soul
Sabbath, sabbath, Let the Sabbath Begins !!!!!! "
Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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