Webzine: Hellfrost / USA
Article: Death

Written by: unknown
Published: April 1995


shifted gears hard in '95 when they released their sixth studio album Symbolic. The one before it, 1993's masterpiece Individual Thought Patterns (which featured legendary King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque) was a maelstrom of explosive, technical death metal, while Symbolic introduced a progressive element to Chuck Schuldiner's signature guitar sound with a more "traditional" slant. I spoke to the man behind Death in April 1995.


How would say Symbolic is different from Individual Thought Patterns?
Chuck: Individual... has a lot of depth to it, a lot of weird twists and turns. Symbolic isn't far off in that respect, although it concentrates on grooves more. The rhythms don't all fly past you at breakneck speed, definitely. Another thing, the production is far superior. A little more solid, more rounded.

Would you say the guitar sound is the same as on the past few albums?
Chuck: I would say it's much more clear, more audible and in your face. I use the same amp, but our new producer Jim Morris really helped bring out my guitar sound for what it is, what you hear is what's coming out of my amp. I wanted to achieve a guitar sound that is more "real". Not as distorted, but still heavy.

Did you set out to make a fast album, or more mid-tempo, or more melodic, or did it all just fall into place?
Chuck: It just came out that way. I think it's important to have a balance between all the elements that you just mentioned. It's definitely a natural thing, nothing is ever forced.

So within the chemistry of Death, there's never a "game plan", just free-flow?
Chuck: Exactly.

The albums Human and Individual Thought Patterns deal with a lot of psychological type themes, is Symbolic the same in the lyrical sense?
Chuck: Definitely. Very realistic, you know, just pure reality. To me reality and life in general are very intense, and challenging. The new lyrics reflect life in it's true form.

I notice that the lengths of the songs are a bit longer this time around, how did the idea to make longer songs come about?
Chuck: That was semi-planned. Like with the last song "Perennial Quest" I knew it was going to be long, like a journey. I didn't want the songs to be like 'they're here and gone'. The title track as well, you know I couldn't see that one being a three minute song.

Would you agree, but not to get too into labels or whatever, that Death is more of a progressive metal band than say a death metal band now?
Chuck: (pauses) I personally I like to call Death a "multi metal band"...I have a lot of inspiration in those confines. I was inspired a lot by the original death metal bands, like Venom and Slayer and Mercyful Fate... but also in the more melodic 80's metal like Maiden and Priest... those are all still influences you can hear in my playing, even though some aspects have changed a little.

Albums like Leprosy and Spiritual Healing broke a lot of ground in the underground scene. Do you think the new one will do the same?
Chuck: I hope so. I hope Symbolic is symbolic of what's to come, you know, as far as advancing and breaking new ground, just making people turn around and go 'whoa!' and make them think.

Although it has its fast moments, Symbolic isn't really as fast as some of the past albums. Do you think there will ever be a Death album in the future that's primarily focused on speedcore riffs?
Chuck: Never anything that's all-out fast, no. To me that would be doing the same thing over again, you know? I think speed can be very effective when it's done in sections, not just a whole record of it... one of the problems with the scene is that everybody's haulin' ass, you know? Speed has definitely been taken care of, by a lot of different bands. We'll still keep it, but we'll try new things along the way.

How is the Florida scene right now?
Chuck: It's going through changes, especially the death metal scene in general. The labels stopped signing a lot of the heavier stuff (Tampa bands). In Orlando there's actually a good variety of metal bands, like death, grind, melodic, alternative, thrash... in life it's important to have variety, I've believed that since day one.

Are you familiar with some of the new European death metal bands? Many of them are using a lot more melody and different riffing and vocal styles. Some people say the death metal scene is dying, but if you look around there's actually plenty of variety.
Chuck: Right. I haven't heard many of those bands (from Europe) but I know what you're saying. Carcass is a good band from over there that mixes in a lot of melody, and roots. The last album by them is fucking killer!

That would make a cool show.
Chuck: Oh yeah, we'd definitely like to tour with Carcass again! Another band I'd like to go out with is Grip Inc., Dave Lomardo's new band.

Would you ever tour with a band like Pantera?
Chuck: Oh yeah, definitely. Those are hard tours to get on, though, because everybody else wants to tour with them! I'd love to tour with someone else who have something else to offer.

I notice on the new album, your vocals are easier to understand. How do you approach that, while still sounding somewhat guttural, and how does your singing differ from other death metal bands?
Chuck: For one thing, they cup the microphone with their mouth and hands, and that's creating heaviness out of distortion, which is cheating. I really try to project what you hear naturally. With this album, I tried a lot harder to get a clean mix. I don't use any effects whatsoever, just my stomach and lungs.

Do you think O.J. did it?
Chuck: Judge not-without judgment. I can't say, until the final evidence comes through.

What's your favorite beer?
Chuck: Moosehead, Killian's Red, Heineken, mainly those three.

Do you eat at Taco Bell?
Chuck: (makes a mock-vomit noise) Man, I protest that place. The last time I ate there I felt like shit! (laughs) Taco Hell!

(laughs)Well take it easy, man. I hope everything goes well for the band.
Chuck: Great, thanks a lot! When we come by on tour, stop up and drink a brew with us!


to talks

EmptyWords-Published on September 24 2003