Italy’s DEATH SS have been haunting the European metal scene for 40 years and have always had a cult following, but somehow I’ve never investigated them very deeply, which is strange considering my usual love any mix of horror and metal, which these guys embody. Maybe 2021 is the time for me to venture into their crypt.
I think some sort of sixth sense kept me out of DEATH SS’ path all these years. Not only do they look like they should be working at the local cut-rate Jaycees haunted house, but their music is about as sinister and underground as RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS. How on Earth did this band ever get a following of underground metalheads?!
With just a couple of exceptions, the material on Ten is pure commercialized trash, mixing bad aspects of GHOST, techno/industrial dreck and European power metal. I certainly didn’t expect raging death or black metal here, but I was frankly shocked at how overproduced and mainstream this all is. The record actually starts OK with ‘The Black Plague’ which is a catchy melodic metal track, butt it doesn’t take long to crash into the swamp. ’Zora’ sounds very GHOST-like but the real slumming happens with ‘Rebel God’ and ‘Temple Of The Rain’, both of which I would expect to hear on the drive-home show of the local “Real Rock” radio station. Maybe sandwiched between THREE DOORS DOWN and BAD WOLVES.
‘Ride The Dragon’ actually brings metal back into light, with a fast, crunchy power metal tune that is inoffensively pleasant to listen to. “Inoffensively pleasant” also is a good description of singer Steve “The Vampire” Sylvester’s performance. Nothing noteworthy about this guy’s AOR croon; I expect more from a “legendary” band. Then we get watered down stuff like ‘Heretics’, ‘The World Is Doomed’ and ‘Lucifer’, all of which are weak, with traces of modern industrial radio rock. People have been devoted to this shit for decades? I don’t get it.
Vampire Steve provides a long mystical explanation of the significance of Ten to us in the notes. You can provide all the cabalistic yap you like. To me, DEATH SS has none of the characteristics necessary for a “legendary” band. Ten is pure tripe.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality
Lucifer Rising Records
1.5 / 6