Thrash Producers: The Sound And The Fury
Guitar World talks to the producers who crafted the sound on groundbreaking albums by Megadeth, Anthrax, Possessed, Death and other bands from extreme metal’s formative years.
Although the thrash/speed metal scene peaked in 1986, great albums were still being released in 1987, including Anthrax’s Among the Living and Testament’s debut, The Legacy. Perialas was turned on to Testament by Megaforce staffer Metal Maria Ferrero, who was Johnny Zazula’s girl Friday. “Maria was really a huge champion of that project,” Perialas says. “The minute I heard them I said, ‘I need to make a record with this band.’ ”
Perialas loved working with Testament’s guitar team of Eric Peterson and lead guitarist Alex Skolnick, who was just out of high school when the band recorded The Legacy. When recording his solos, Skolnick “had such a great grasp of the instrument that you could do six takes with him, and all six would have a common thread, but each one of them would be brilliant in its own way. So it was just a matter of steering his young energy.”
Testament's 1987 album The Legacy
That year also saw the release of another crucial album in the death metal genre produced and engineered by Burns and McMackin: Death’s Scream Bloody Gore, which again was released through Combat. Burns has fond memories of working with Chuck Schuldiner, the late founder of Death. “I thought Death took it to another level,” he says. “They were definitely groundbreaking, and I really liked Chuck’s guitar playing. He was a lot of fun to work with. He was a real hard worker, and he was really efficient in the studio. He really took to it.”
Many death metal bands love to scream between verses, and on one track, Schuldiner let loose a blood curdling scream that lasted about 30 seconds. Everyone liked it, but Burns knew Chuck could do better. Schuldiner screamed again, and the effect was even better. Burns, however, wanted to see if Chuck could push it even further.
Death's Scream Bloody Gore
“The third scream comes by and it was crazy,” McMackin says. “ ‘If we can do better, let’s just do one more.’ So I’m rolling tape, I punch in to record, there’s no scream. I roll back again, punch in record, there’s no scream. We go running into the room, and Chuck had passed out from the scream. That’s dedication.”
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