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DEATH SS” ( in DEATH of Steve Sylvester) is the first group that has been able to combine Rock with Horror and , first began recording material in 1988, leaded by Steve Sylvester. He immediately showed a keen interest in the ideas of occult and horror, and he was greatly inspired by “horror” movies and literature.Such energetic influences have enabled Sylvester and his adventures companions to define their own lyrical-musical universe into a genuine gothic and obscure ambient. Moreover they ‘ve always expressed on stage an original and even extreme penchant for theatrical and choreographic performances.Hidden behind a disquieting make-up work, the DEATH SS have created the most classic Horror settings and characters, inspired at least by the cinematic viewpoint of the British Hammer production’s of the Seventies.By presenting and enriching these ideas in a very personal manner, DEATH SS was able to create a “style”, that has later influenced many other bands.
The result was then combined with a superb Rock-sound and was performed with a greater technical mastery, which, with its decisive sound, enabled the band to continue improving their sound, album after album. After several contractual problems, the group reached an agreement with the SELF-Distribution in 1996, and founded the LUCIFER RISING Records label. The label’s first release was the “Horror Music – The best of DEATH SS” compilation, a double collection album with unpublished material, historical compositions and unobtainable singles.
In 1997 DEATH SS entered at the Academy Studios in England, where under Mags and Keith Appleton ‘s direction (Paradise Lost, Cradle of Filth, My dying bride, Anathema Etc.), the band recorded an album called “Do What Thou Wilt” , a powerful mix of killers riffs and gothic melancholy, enhanced by horrifying samples and a female backing voice.
These lyrics convey the sexual-magic concept in the likes of the famous”Magus” Aleister Crowley”, one of the most group’s famous source of inspiration.To support the album, the band organised a lengthy tour that culminated with a performance at the “Gods of Metal” festival in June 1998, alongside Pantera and Black Sabbath, to name a few.A piece of this tour, together with interviews and single video-clips, was later published in the music video “The Night Of The Living DEATH S.S.”.This documentary style video , exclusively made for their fans, offers a detailed and exclusive sight to the Italian band’s mythical show.
Most of the following years were spent working on their next album, another decisive step forwards in the band’s stylistic evolution. Backed by a more substantial budget, DSS asked for the contribution of the Anglo-American producer NEIL KERNON (Queensryche, Judas Priest, Dokken, Nevermore…),who had taken up this album production step-by-step, from pre-production session until the final mixage, in September ’99 at Village Productions Studios in Tornillo, Texas. In the new album DEATH SS returns to its original style of “Horror music”, that had invented at first, once again recreating the atmosphere typical of the old horror films and thriller comics, and also including some refined ethnical’ n esoterically references and a modern “industrial” technology. The resulting effect is also enhanced by a acholarly form of production that bestows a devastating potency, which refuses to compromise the melodic return present in every single composition.
Another gift to the beholder of this new masterpiece is the renowned Chilean poet and movie-director ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY ‘s participation, author of many cult-films such as “The Holy Mountain”, “El Topo” and “Santa Sangre”, who contributes as author and as performer for the introduction and the conclusion of the album.
This work had been entitled “PANIC”, a term coined at the God PAN ‘s honour, the god of the humours, love and confusion. The word “Pan” expresses the god of the woods’ dual characteristic (a jester who provokes laughter and terror simultaneously), and it also encompasses the Greek term “Pan”, that means “whole”.
Within this is contained the very essence of DEATH SS, a subversive impulse which frees itself of all (moral, social, rational and aesthetic) restrictions, connecting “panic” with surrealistic theories, with “Shock Art”, and with th magical-musical theatre which has always been at the root of their artistry.
A new tour was organized to support the “Panic” album,the first part of it ended again with a band appearance in the annual “Gods of Metal festival”, this time alongside Iron Maiden and Slayer. The rest of the year was spent realizing two new singles taken from “Panic”, “Lady of Babylon” and “Let the Sabbath begin”. A new home-video/DVD with video-clips, live-shows and curiosity of the last period, was made, called “Let The Panic Begin”. It also includes the amazing video-clip for the single “Transylvania”, and excerpts from the triumphant band’s exhibition at the 2001 Wacken Open Air festival.
In summer 2001 the band teams up in Los Angeles with the producer Fabrizio. V.Zee Grossi. His wide range of collaboration, spacing from ICE.T & George Clinton to rockers like Steve Vai, Nina Hagen (to name a few), opened a new vision to DEATH SS, taking the band to the cyber-harsh-punk approach of nu-metal bands with a distinct & classy background of euro-Goth.
This work was co-produced by David Shiffman (Rage against the machine, System of a down, Nine inch nails, Red hot chilly peppers, Etc.), and this winning combination has given birth to a new DEATH SS ‘s fatigue entitled:
“Humanomalies”- whose concept is upon the world of freaks- in which the band reaches its very heights in playing this kind of music, song writing & … horror disturbances!
After the “Humanomalies Tour”, a period of pause has been taken by the band,
in order to organize the ideas and to start the composition of the new album. This time was filled giving to the press a collection of old and very rare material of the first DEATH SS’s line-up , that one of the period from 1977 to 1984. The CD, entitled “The Horned God Of The Witches”, like the first band’s demo, has represented a kind of gift made from DEATH SS to all those fans that from years continued to ask for the first rarest unavailable recordings drawn from singles and demos… The initiative, even though conceived in limited edition, earned a very good success, so the group between the end of 2004 and great part of 2005, taken the decision to undertake a new tour in support of it. In this “vintage” tour, the band reproposed only all the old classics, with the old choreographies and wearing the old make-up and costumes…
In the meantime the works for the new album proceeded and DEATH SS reached again the producer Fabrizio V.Zee in Los Angeles, where “The Seventh Seal” taken life.
This album represent the ultimate step forward in the evolution of this seminal band, where the unmistakable and very imitated horror atmospheres of
the early years are skillfully mixed with the modern, anthemic and metallic sound of their last productions. “The Seventh Seal” is the perfect hinge between the past and the future of the band, the perfect closing of a magic circle started many years ago and gaining this uncommon band a cult status by fans all over the globe fully recognised… The track listing encloses the single “Give’em Hell” endorsed by the ICW, the most famous Italian Wresling Federation, and also feature Clive Jones, former member of BLACK WIDOW in the scary title-track.
The CD “limited-edition” stunning packaging was wrapped into a real satanic pact, closed with a red sealing wax with the imprint of the band’s mark..
In 2007 to celebrate their 30th anniversary the band issued an awesome double anthological DVD in a coffin shaped case that with video clips, live excerpts and spicy unreleased behind the scenes footage visually runs through the fundamental stages of a life dedicated to HORROR MUSIC!
In March 2008 DEATH SS reappeared as headliners in the Italian Gods of Metal Festival for what could well have been their farewell show.
Steve Sylvester has in fact declared that the band, after a 30 year musical journey had released all of the seven “magic seals” originally foreseen in a pledge made at the beginning of the band’s career, and would take a hiatus for an indefinite amount of time, with the exception of few rare and very important occasions.
To thank all their fans, DEATH SS issued shortly afterward a double digipak CD and DVD in a luxorius limited edition of only 2000 copies documenting the Italian Gods of Metal concert with 10 songs, some of which recorded live for the first time, and seven videos among which the unreleased clip of the historical song ” Black Mass”. As a bonus also included are some excerpts from the band’s headlining show at the Headbanger’s Open Air Festival in Germany (July 2008).
The band also appears in the horror movie “Precognizioni” and contributes music to the soundtrack of the popular television crime drama series “L’ispettore Coliandro“( 2009-2010) on the Rai 2 channel, as well as playing themselves in the episode “666″ from the IVth season of the show.
During the band’s time-off, between 2008 to 2012, Steve Sylvester was engaged in the production of some horror movies and musically returns in 2010 with two new bands of different genre: OPUS DEI (for censorship problems immediately renamed W.O.G.U.E. = Work of God United Entertainment), a rock band sounding very “dark-wave”, and SANCTA SANCTORUM, that plays instead a very dark and claustrophobic doom-rock with psychedelic and dark atmospheres, where we can also find Thomas hand Chaste and Danny Hughes from the first DEATH SS line-up.
In November 2011 Steve released his official biography, co-written with the music critic Gianni Della Cioppa, that has been a great success in Italy.
In the meantime the singer devoted himself to various music collaborations, lending his voice in Italian productions,(Witche’s Brew), and abroad (Ripper), and continues his parallel career as actor (“Eaters” produced by Uwe Boll, “the Devil’s Grail” and the crime series S.I.S.).
The band still continues to meet secretly, working on new material, some of which is intended to become part of the soundtracks of horror movies (among others “Fear 3D” of Manetti Bros, released in the summer of 2012.)
Surprisingly, in December 2012 it was announced the comeback of the band, confirmed by a new EP, “The darkest night”, which is also the soundtrack of the homonymous film (to be released in 2013) directed by John Morrison, while the album back, entitled “Resurrection” is scheduled for March 2013…