Magazine: Aardschok / Netherlands
Article: Death = Alive

Written by: Robert Haagsma
Published: August/September 1998



When the young musician Chuck Schuldiner baptized his band with the name Death 15 years ago, he could not foresee that his band would become the figurehead of a metal-genre with the same name. Where most of the other pioneers kicked the bucket or drastic changed their musical course, Chuck resolute holds on to his principles. Perservere, is the slogan, as the new title reveals, yet he doesn't repeat himself. Not on "The Sound Of Perserverance" with which he closes a period of deadly silence.


"I hardly can wait for the moment the cd goes in the shops", the 31 years old guitarist lets us know with an enthousiasm as if it concerns his first album instead of his 7th. "I'm very satisfied with the record, yet I'm curious of what the audience will think of it, it's an exciting time!" The musician somewhere along the way got the name "Evil-Chuck" and the wildest stories are told about him. He should be unmanageable and capricious, yet again to me Chuck absolutely doesn't live up to that image. On the contrary, he is very talkative, friendly and enthousiastic.

"It has been quiet for a long time 'round Death" admits the musician, "much too long, and I'm glad to be back again." The last warlike deed was "Symbolic" in 1995. That same year the band toured in Europe but a year later Chuck puts his band temporarily in the fridge. After 12 years it was about time to have a break. Chuck started the project "Control Denied" in which besides Chuck (guitar), Tim Aymar (vocals), Chris Williams (drums), Shannon Hamm (guitar) and Scott Clendenin (bass) participate. All musicians are from relative unknown bands from Florida. Tim has his own band "Psycho Scream", Shannon comes from "Metalstorm" and Scott and Chris from "Talonzfury". Chuck approached Warrel Dane of Nevermore for the vocals but he wasn't available at the time. The band recorded some demo's in 1996 and 1997 but never got to put them on a cd. What sort of music is Control Denied anyway?

"In many ways it looks like Death, heavy but technically at the same time. The main difference are the vocals. I've always seen myself as a guitar player, I took over the vocals more as a neccesity than as a matter of conviction. I had the idea for years to do a project where someone else takes care of the melodic vocals. I invested a lot of time and am still taping new pieces, however everything is on hold at the moment. Death seemed more popular than I thought, so I decided to do another Death cd. After a two years break I also wanted to do that very much. I don't want the bands to thwart eachother so I decided to put Control Denied on hold. The coming months I'll be touring with Death and after that, probably in the beginning of next year, we'll enter the studio for Control Denied. Likely with the musicians I worked with before, but nothing's certain on that point yet."


In the new line-up of Death Shannon Hamm and Scott Clendenin appear again, the drummer is Richard Christy, also from the musical scene of Florida. He was a former member of "Acheron" and "Burning Inside". Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus) was for long the new bass player in view but didn't have enough time in his schedule for recording an album and go on tour with Death later on.

"Yet, Death and Control Denied are complete different bands", underlines Chuck. "I read in some interviews that Control Denied stuff has been put on the new Death cd but I absolute have to refute this. Indeed "The Sound Of Perseverance" is mainly a Death cd, heavy, agressive and technical of a very high level. The cd was recorded in the famous Morrissound studios and produced with the help of Jim Morris. It's not only one of the best Death cd's, it also is one of the most varied ones. The very heavy stuff gets an interupption halfway with an acoustic beautiful instrumental build 'round Chucks acoustic guitar "Voice Of The Soul".

"It's a song which I sat on for quite a long time", he tells. "I thought it would be nice to put in a moment of rest in the middle of the cd. "Voice Of The Soul" shows a very different, more modest, side of me. It will surprise people, I hope." Surprised will some be about the Priest-cover "Painkiller". Death recorded a cover before, "God Of Thunder" from Kiss, but Chuck pulled that song very much towards himself. In "Painkiller" it appears Chuck can "sing" (?/:)YK) and even not bad at all.

"Yes, after all those grunting years it seems I still have vocal cords", Chuck laughs. "Actually I do not like doing covers but every once in a while I make an exception. "Painkiller" is one of my favourite metal cd's and the title-track was on my list for a long time. Because I recorded some "normal vocal stuff" with Control Denied it wasn't that hard to leave the grunt at home for one song. Initial it was ment as a bonus track for the Japanese market. But as Nuclear Blast, my new record company, heard it they wanted it on all versions of my new cd. I now see why, it's a great cover." Isn't Chuck lead into temptation to do more "normal" vocals on his own songs in future?

"I thought about it, but I said no. Death represents a certain style, which includes my way of "singing". I think I would restrain myself but above all the expectations of the die-hard fans, when I would radically change the sound of Death. For that reason I started Control Denied, there I'm free in every way."


Chuck tells the inspiration to cover a song of the Brittish legend is a result of his indistructable passion for metal in general.

"It's the old story but I'll tell it once more. Metal in America is hard pressed and I mean reál metal and not the music Korn plays, that has nothing to do with metal whatsoever, although it's been sold as the new metal generation. It's just a dirty game of the big recordcompanies to let trends follow eachother quick so they can make a lot of money fast, personel have told me. Kill the "old" music and push something new forward quick for the "kids". They make bands like Death look "old fashioned" and "passé". Metal for me is a part of my life, music which I started to love as a 10 years old, it never blew over. A trend is synonymous to temporary, something you walk along with for a while without real love involved. Don't misunderstand me, I have nothing against Korn as a band. They are undoubtable good in what they do but don't try to sell it to me as heavy metal from the 90ties !!! Someone like myself with a 15 year carreer in metal feels offended by it. My new cd for that matter is a statement: listen this is the heavy metal of the 90ties !!! " You still think this is the best music to express yourself?

"Oh, sure, I only had, like I told you, the need to experiment for a while with a vocalist. My love for heavy metal is everlasting, I can put everything in it."


The title of the new cd is about perserverance?

"It says it all about the way I look at this cd and Death and myself. Death still exists, despite all opposition, bussiness set backs, new trends and other bullshit. And why? Because I persevered!!" What was the biggest bullshit you ever had to deal with?

"There were some annoying musicians crossing my path. At some point in time I could get very angry about all the stories that were told about me, about how unpredictable I was. However I nowadays can handle those kind of things much better. Apparently there are people who are bored that incredible that they have plenty of time to gossip about others endlessly. I no longer consider it my problem but theirs." What motivated you despite of everything to continue?

"A sincere passion for this music and I'm quite a stubborn boy. They can tell me a thousand times this music is passé, if I think otherwise then that's it." Can you in the mean time live from this hard work?

"Only just, and that mainly because of my sober way of living. I have a very small apartment. I'm not rich, like many young musicians I once put my signature underneath deals that appeard very disadvatageous for me. I could have had a lot of money, but it worked out different. Yet I'm not complaining, it's my own fault first of all. If only I had a good lawyer that time. I'm satisfied though, I have two big dogs and I can afford to buy food for them every day. If there's any money left over I buy a new set of strings, what more is there to wish....?'

Robert Haagsma



to talks

Translated by YK/AS for EmptyWords-Published on March 31 1999