Produced by Steve Sylvester. Vocals and Keyboards recorded by Freddy Delirio at FP Recording Studio, LU, Italy. Drums recorded by Federico Pennazzato at TMH Studios, AL, Italy. Guitars recorded by Al DeNoble at TMH Studios, AL, Italy. “Suspiria” intro and outro recorded by Edmondo Romano at Eden Studio, GE, Italy. All songs mixed, mastered and co-produced by Freddy Delirio at FP Recording Studio. Cover art by Alex Horley. Graphics and layout by Roby Manini and Steve Sylvester for Sylman Productions. Photos by Andrea Falaschi. Executive producer Vittorio Lombardoni. All songs published by Evox3 Music Edizioni Musicali, BG, Italy.
Released on Lucifer Rising Records on Friday 29 October 2021.
Let’s get the band’s name out of the way to start with. Death SS—the ‘SS’ in the band’s name is the initials of their singer, Steve Sylvester and not a reference to ‘Schutzstaffel’, the Nazi protection squad. Although, they must have known this would have been an association when they named the band, right?
Anyway, onto the music…
From the imagery and band photograph (above) I was fully expecting the usual black metal wall of noise and shouting with jangling bag-of-cultery percussion. I was pleasantly surprised when the album opener “The Black Plague” (track 1) opened with a choir and a very familar sounding guitar riff (that I’m still trying to identify) and possibly the most Alice Cooper-esque vocals I’ve heard this side of the godfather of shock’s own releases. There is a distinctly doom-like feel to the song — think latter-day Candlemass — fusing a distinctly gothic feel with wide open melodies. A good start, for sure.
Things get darker when “Zora” (track 2) opens with a phantom of the opera/creepy circus style organ. But this soon gives way to a bright Ghost-meets-Helloween song with catchy chorus. Z… oh!-rah!
“Under Satan’s sun” (track 3) has a bell; more songs need bells. It’s about this point in the album that I realise that I’m enjoying it much more than I expected to. This track has the energy and creativity of a Rammstein track, right down to the half-spoken vocals and bouncy riff.
“Rebel god” (track 4) opens with a monk-esque choir that morphs into a bubbling Die Krupps-like riff. But only if Die Krupps now comprised Alice Cooper and members of Helloween. This is good stuff! And so good to hear the lead guitar coming to the fore about halfway through, before things reset for another round of the most fun doom-laden song I’ve heard in a long time.
“Temple of the rain” (track 5) features more choir, some rain, and a distinctly electronic riff. Depeche Mode have clearly joined this Alice Cooper/Candlemass/Ghost/Helloween hybrid. And then when the vocals begin, this has an echo of gothic legends, Sister of Mercy.
More songs need to open with a dragon’s roar, like “Ride the dragon” (track 6). This dragon seems to prefer riding at 100 mph. This is a raucous, rocking romp. Thankfully a half-speed middle eight introduces some interest before a keyboard solo and guitar solo line everything up for the exit.
“Suspiria” (track 7) has an accordion. And an electronic harpsichord. Despite the cheery, baroque-folk intro, this is probably the darkest song on the album—a melodic, funereal dirge. Until the ending, that is, which see’s a French-like, start/stop accordion battle it out with a violin and soprano. Brilliant!
This must be the Death SS ballad. “Heretics” (track 8) opens with an acoustic guitar arpeggio and the gruffest vocals on the album. It’s a cheerily gothic and melodious song with spoken vocals about halfway through. Fade to black…
Then back to more electronica with “The world is doomed” (track 9)—Depeche Ghost. What is remarkable by the time you get to this end of the album is that there really hasn’t been a duff track yet. Every song brings something new. There is an integrity and consistency to the album but not at the cost of every song sounding exactly like the last. Despite the name of the song, this sounds like an upbeat and almost happy song. Could this perhaps be played during the soundtrack to the end of the world? It would certainly make it a bit easier to endure.
The choir returns to see out the album, with closer “Lucifer” (track 10) which has a very Alice Cooper energy and drama to it. Sadly, this track (plus “Ride the dragon”) is perhaps the weakest on the album. The organ outro is cool, though.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this album. It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be, and as it played out, it kept revealling surprises again and again. Overall this sounds like Alice Cooper meets Ghost meets Helloween meets Depeche Mode, but that’s no bad thing in my book.
Review score: 85%
Anubi Press contacted me in October 2021 inviting me to preview Death SS’s then forthcoming album, which I was delighted about.
I have no connections to either Anubi Press or Death SS. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool.
Many thanks to Anubi Press, and to Death SS for continuing to create fresh, exciting music.
I don’t normally publish these, but I thought there was some really interesting insights into this album contained in the promo notes that I was sent about this release.
Under the guidance of legendary frontman Steve Sylvester, Italian horror metal masters Death SS return with Ten, a new observation on death and darkness. With their tenth full-length album, Death SS keep offering their own personal blend of horror metal: esoteric, occult music where spontaneity and attitude are the most important values.
The album’s ten tracks orchestrate a sinister mass of sinful abandon full of creepy tales, gloomy stories with somewhat funny twists. It will make the listeners quiver and shiver, with a grin on the face.
“X”, the number ten in the Roman numerical system, chosen to name this album, is not a random title.
The number Ten symbolizes perfection, as well as the cancellation of all things.
10 = (1 + 0) = 1, illustrates the eternal starting over.
Ten is the total of the first four numbers (and in our case the first four albums / seals) and therefore contains within itself the entirety of the universal and artistic principles contained in each of them.
It corresponds to the Pythagorean tetraktys which, together with seven (the total number of musical / magical seals of our pact), is considered the most important number, as it is formed by the sum of the first four (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10), thus expressing the totality, the fulfillment, the final realization…! The number 10 is divine because it is perfect, as it brings together in a new unity all the principles expressed in the numbers (or albums) from one to nine.
Esoterically the symbolism of the decade represents the perfection relative to the circular space-time, or the divine immanence. Ten indicates the change that allows the initiate to evolve, grow and rise spiritually. It is the symbol of the totality of the represented reality.
From a religious point of view it recalls the number of commandments that God entrusted to Moses on Mount Sinai. It contains the unity that made everything and zero, a symbol of matter and of the chaos from which everything came out. It therefore includes in its likeness the created and the non-created, the beginning and the end, the power and the strength, the life and the nothingness.
There are also ten circles, the sefiroth of the tree of life. In the tarot the number ten, which in the major arcana corresponds to the wheel of fortune (arcane X) and to judgment (arcanum XX), represents the end of a cycle of experiences and heralds a new beginning.
Finally in Dante’s Inferno, the tenth canto takes place in the sixth circle, in the city of Dite, where heretics are punished, that is, the rebels, the free spirits intolerant of Dogma, those who choose to take themselves out of the ordinary way, to which this work is dedicated.— Steve Sylvester