Ever since their inception in the late 1970s, Italy's Death SS (i.e. "Death of Steve Sylvester") has been synonymous with the subgenre known as horror metal -- a concept they helped pioneer and have since explored to greater lengths than arguably any other band in this, or any other world. Simply put, if the work of B-movie directing legend Roger Corman has a direct parallel in music, then Death SS is it.
Founded by the enigmatic Sylvester (aka "The Vampire"), reputedly as far back as 1977, Death SS toiled in total obscurity until 1981, when their evocatively titled Horned God of the Witches demo began doing the rounds within the heavy metal tape-trading underworld. At this time also comprising guitarists Paul "Death" Chain (aka Paolo Catena) and Claud "Zombie" Galley, bassist Danny "Mummy" Hughes, and drummer Thomas "Werewolf" Chaste (all of them naturally costumed according to their nicknames), the group eventually started landing tracks in compilation albums, and then self-released a number of EPs bearing colorful titles like Zombie/Terror, The Night of the Witch/Black Mummy, and Profanation/Spiritualistic S+¬ance. Marked by minimal recording fidelity but rich in sound effects and other theatrical accouterments (all of them also crucial elements of the band's concerts, of course), these were later compiled into 1987's The Story of Death SS 1977-1984, which wiped the slate clean and permitted the now completely revamped lineup of Sylvester, guitarists Christian Wise and Kurt Templar, bassist Erik Landley, and drummer Boris Hunter to inaugurate their international career proper with the following year's In Death of Steve Sylvester. Since then, Death SS has recorded regularly, persevering in the underground and never losing sight of their horror metal vision, no matter how many musicians have sifted through their ranks. Needless to say, this is all due to Sylvester's single-minded devotion to his subject matter, a devotion which has earned this Mediterranean King Diamond a demi-legend all his own. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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