Magazine: Metal Shock / Italy
Article: Death, From The Abyss

Written by: Paolo Maiorino
Published: February 1992


Through the words of Chuck Schuldiner, we've reconstructed DEATH's recent past and attempted to understand the causes of the numerous line-up changes and dissentions within this legendary band. "Rick Rozz leaves Death!"... "James Murphy joins Death"... "Murphy resoundingly abandons Schuldiner's band!"... "Chuck's called out of Death, but demands the right to the name!". During the last two years we've quickly updated you on the ups and downs of Death. Just when we were losing hope, Chuck summoned some trusted friends and realized "Human", one of the best death metal albums recently released.For the fan who bought the record without taking note of the band's recent turmoil, one of the most obvious differences is the radical change in line-up. We'll present a simple list of facts before featuring the words of Chuck Schuldiner, a real leader and one of the most controversial figures in the metal world. We've reached him during Death's recent American tour with Pestilence and Viogression, which brought joy to thousands of moshers and slamdancers. In comparison to the incarnation of "Scream Bloody Gore", the first LP, released in 1987, with "Leprosy"(88) the trio became quartet, adding a second guitarist, Rick Rozz. Two other new members: drummer Bill Andrews and the bassist Terry Butler, both from Massacre (as the same Rozz), joined Death to replace drummer Chris Reifert and rhythm guitarist John Hand.On 1990's Spritual Healing, Rick Rozz left in turn to witness the addition of James Murphy, one of the more highly regarded axe heroes, who established himself with Agent Steel and Hallow's Eve. We'll hear the rest from the King himself, Chuck Schuldiner.

"We were rather satisfied with Spiritual Healing. With James there were no problems even though someone had warned me of his rather unpredictable character... In April of 1990, when we were preparing for the European tour, James announced he'd left the band effective immediately. There had been some conflicts on personal level with me, but I didn't think he would have arrived to such a drastic solution... We were totally caught off guard and we decided to postpone the tour because we didn't want to go to Europe without another guitarist."

At that point an unexplanable event took place; the rest of the band recruited ex-Devastation drummer, Louie Carrisalez, as vocalist, and went to Europe as support of Kreator. Chuck surprisingly remains in Florida, undertaking legal proceedures to get recognition for the rights to the band's name.

"There were very heated discussions during that period. Bill and Terry had kept in touch with Rick Rozz and they plotted against me. They wanted to steal Death, and exploit the name at my expense... With Rick there had not been an amicable separation, there were grudges and misunderstandings. When Terry came me to say they had intentions to go to Europe, I told him: 'not on your life!'. He responded loud and clear that there had been a discussion and I was expelled from Death... I was very angry for two days, I couldn't believe that the people I had trusted could take advantage of this situation. I did know that the law was on my side, and I started consultation with a lawyer.

It was not difficult for Chuck to recover the name, while Butler and Andrews, upon return from Europe, gathered with Rick Rozz and Kam Lee to reform Massacre. Rozz was working there already from a few months, and in the meantime he had recruited bassist Butch Gonzales and ex-Whiplash drummer Joe Cangelos. Chuck was looking for new musicians, but due to the fact that he's undoubtedly the demanding type, at the end of long months of auditions, Schuldiner decided to recruit his great friend Steve Digiorgio, from Sadus, Cynic's Sean Reinhart (drums) and Paul Masvidal (guitar).

"Steve and I practically grew up together. I consider Sadus one of the absolute best bands. "Swallowed In Black" is my favourite record... However I would not pretend he left his band in any way. Our new bassist is Scott Carino and I believe he'll stay with us. Regarding Sean and Paul, I don't know really what tell you, I sincerely hope they stay in Death. However it seems Tony Choi has definitely joined Pestilence and therefore, Cynic could decide to separate."

Chuck is working laboriously after a dark period during which he suddenly found himself alone. The events previously described had him disenchanted and demotivated. It is here that the strong and vigorous character of Chuck Schuldiner had emerged, his wish to return as soon as possible with an album, the desire to show once more that he is Death. It's not a game of words... Stubbornness and perseverance are surely elements required of protagonists under these circumstance, even if the consistent accusations of tyranny and despotism are not entirely unfounded.

"No, it's not a case that the line up of Death has perpetually been unstable. It's not the case that it depends on the mentality I have about the way I wanted to manage the band. I have made many mistakes in my life and in my career, to deny it would be hypocritical, but my decisions, more specifically, regarding my various decisions to part company from unfit companions, were not mistakes. I've made the mistake of being conceited on some occasions, I've mistakenly trusted other people without knowing them well. Here they are, my mistakes. Can you blame me? I don't think so. During the years I've come to understand so many things. Later particularly during Spiritual Healing, I realized Death had become a tool in the hands of different individuals, rather than an ideal for which to believe and fight.
Chuck Schuldiner is only a human being as is Rick Rozz or James Murphy. My conscience is founded in the fundamental and indisputable teachings of the human existence. All the human beings think, they act, they are suited to the error: it's a natural fact. But even more natural is the fact that they live and therefore they die. That's why I've wanted to entitle the LP " Human ", after all it's the same concept that is concealed behind the name Death: there's not death if not for a living entity..."

No, he's not a metaphysics luminary and not even a preaching madman, but Chuck has often been targeted by Tipper Gore and by the PMRC. On January 1st. 1991 the body of 29 year-old Gary Andrew Burgess was found near Seattle, beaten to death. In his jacket pocket was a copy of Leprosy by Death, and this instigated the PMRC.

"They have always harshly criticized my lyrics. I've been accused of being blasphemous and demonic, perhaps because 'Crazy' Tipper has never bother to attently read my lyrics. I don't deny anything in my past, I am proud of my songs and of my lyrics. I'd be ready to challenge whoever, lyrics in hand, giving every last detail to show the meaning of every single verse."

On the other hand Chuck has fought other battles and he would not be frightened to spearhead a possible battle with the censors. The tour with Pestilence has seen a pleasant surprise, in different shows, Viogression, and Cynic, have climbed on stage, therefore Sean Reinhart and Paul Masvidal of Chuck's band and Tony Choi of the Dutch quartet. Can you guess who sang? Really him: Chuck Schuldiner!!! Rather, Chuck the despot...


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Translated by MB/YK/MM for EmptyWords-Published on January 31 2002