Despite having helped spearhead a musical genre that bears his outfit's name, Chuck Schuldiner has remained a down-to-earth, well spoken individual, contrary to the vociferous rumor mill that seems to plague each recording. His decision to resurrect Death, following a three year hiatus which saw the Floridian form another band. Control Denied, has another disinformation campaign trying to undermine his efforts. "Evil" Chuck, determined as ever, won't let the naysayers stop him, so to set the record straight.


Magazine: Nuclear Blast Catologue
Article: Death Lives

Written by: Mark Gromen
Published: 1998



"Leading up to the end of the European tour for SYMBOLIC, I knew it was time to do something I'd been openly talking about in interviews since 1993, that was, I wanted to take a break from Death, rest my vocal chords for a little bit and be (solely) a guitar player. I wanted to get together a band that was similar musically; aggressive, melodic, heavy, brutal, non-trendy of course, but with a singer who was along the lines of Rob Halford or Ian Gillan. I set out writing for Control Denied, which was fun because it was music that wouldn't have limits put on it. I think melodic vocals open a whole other door to heavy metal. At the same time, I told people Death's door was always wide open to return, never say never. Control Denied got to the point where I auditioned a few singers and we did demo with one, an official 3 song demo. It turned out really good, but to be totally honest, I was not ready to put it out. There was something inside me that said 'hold on to this, it won't be outdated.' I'm definitely going to put it out, after this Death album and tour. So I wanted to get Death going again. I had some Death material left over from right after recording SYMBOLIC. I grouped that together, then wrote a ton of new riffs and songs. All the material on this album was written and intended for Death, period, end of story. I feel the time off, to do what I needed to do, has helped me evolve and come back refreshed."

While Schuldiner has remained the lone constant in a line-up that changes from one album to the next, the current roster has actually been together for a while.

"My bassplayer and guitar player from Control Denied are in Death now," explained the guitarist, "Before, when we were jamming, we'd fool around with some Death material because they enjoyed that. They were naturally my first choices, having played alongside them for a while. It was really comfortable to say, 'the spot is open, if you guys want it.' The transition was so easy, Shannon, my guitar player, moved to Florida from Texas about two years prior to our meeting. He played in a lot of melodic, thrash metal bands, so his influences were really along the lines of what I was looking for in a guitar player. Scott has been playing in aggressive, progressive acts as well.

I was looking for people who came from the same musical background as I did, the early 80's, melodic, aggressive, heavy edged music. We're all fans of heavy metal, that's exactly what I wanted. I don't care how good a player someone is, if they're not into metal, it can't work. Then I began looking for a new drummer. Ironically, I met Richard at a party in Orlando, a while back, before I'd put Death back together. He's a complete maniac on the drums, super familiar with older Death material and a fan for years. You run into lots of people in the music business who say they can play things and some are truthful. Sure enough, when we were auditioning, he came in and blew us all away. It was incredible and I'd given him the most difficult Death material I thought there was! Life's funny, the elements always seem to fall into place, right place, right time."

So with Death reincarnated, thoughts turned to securing a record deal. Enter Nuclear Blast.

"Word got out real fast, labels started to find out and within two weeks, I was contacted by several different labels. I sent tapes out and was contacted by Nuclear Blast. Actually, I'd worked with publicist Maria Abril years ago, when I was on Combat Records. She's a really hard worker and a fan. She got me in touch with head honcho Rhodes Mason, who, right off the bat, I had a great conversation with. Their belief in the band was very obvious. I expressed my outlook and concerns. They totally understood what I was talking about. We both have a strong mindset on what this band is capable of doing and what the future holds for heavy metal. It's about to break wide open again and crush every single disbeliever who jumped on the trends. It's great Nuclear Blast, a lable that's been around a long time now, is growing so rapidly, from a lot of smart signings. It's nice to see a label sign good bands, not just what's popular. More so than ever, they're widening their list of bands, which I'm a big fan of. I'm playing the hell out of the new Primal Fear and Hammerfall are another great band. As a musician, it appeals to me that they know how to market real heavy metal."

Metal, there's a word that frightens many labels, yet Nuclear Blast are at the forefront of re-establishing music as the defining characteristic of the genre, not aacillaries like mage, grotesque cover art or banal lyrics. Schuldiner, a fan from the NWOBHM glory days and the initial onset of thrash, agrees wholeheartedly.

"I'm sick of categories. I stressed to Nuclear Blast that I want Death to be marketed as a metal band. That's my category. I don't need a second or third category. I try to get that through to younger bands, that they don't need to throw themselves into such a distant category. It's all metal. Let someone else make the decision that you're something other than that, or a third department of a metal band. That's unhealthy to me. It's where the whole metal scene got distant from one another. People thought it was 'wimpy' to listen to melodic vocals. Where did that come from? It's not my scholling on metal. I grew up on Slayer, Queensryche, Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Raven, Anvil, Metallica (Rest in Peace), Priest, Venom. It was exciting to experience that one time, but to be there when it's all going to come back around, is equally as exciting, if not more so."

To that end there's THE SOUND OF PERSEVERANCE, produced once more by Jim Morris, at the famed Morrisound studio.

"People are in for an earful. It's going to shock people. It's a fine bled of ingredients; the aggression of HUMAN, the progressive edge of INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS, with the solid, rounded vibe of SYMBOLIC. Every element of this band is top notch. We've had time to demo the stuff off two or three times in my home studio, now we're just putting the icing on the cake. It hasn't been this fun in a long time. Now is the best time for a new Death album. It's so explosive, musically, and everything about it so so non-trendy. It couldn't be more opposite what people are, unfortunately, consuming these days. As a fan, I'm tired of having corporate people, who know nothing about metal, shove their idea of 'metal' down my throat. I look at everything as a fan. I still go out and buy records, which is what I think has kept my feet on the ground. As a fan, I'm disgusted at how trendy things have become. Metal is not what 'metal' is in America. Your average person thinks Korn is metal. That's NOT heavy metal!!! We're all staved for metal, as any true fan I'm here to voice my opinion musically and verbally. As a fan, I hopefully can make an impact and turn the whole thing right around."

Fans of underground metal know the meaning of the word "perseverance" firsthand, a fiercely loyal breed, and in that regard, Chuck is no different than those who buy his music.

"The title, THE SOUND OF PERSEVERANCE, can not describe the point of life I'm at any better. I have passion and other things that help me persevere through all the industry bullshit, including rumors. After 14 years in the music industry, I can honestly say that there are plenty of people who want to see me fall flat on my face and will do things to make that happen, not just to me, but to other bands out there. You've got to find an outlet for what those types of people do to you, and for me, this is it. I'm pissed people are always trying to dig a hole in front of me, for me to fall into, and that's where a lot of the aggression for this album, and some of the lyrics, comes from. There's also personal stuff that I don't want to get into, but a lot of people will be able to relate to. Certain things I'll leave up to people out there to judge what it might be about."

The track listing provides a glimpse of someone scorned, but one who uses that productively, as the impetus to achieve, rather than merely complain about the mistreatments and misfortunes. 'Scavenger Of Human Sorrow', 'To Forgive Is To Suffer', 'Spirit Crusher' and 'Bite The Pain' would seem to cast a bleak shadow, but the singer is quick to elaborate.

"All these songs aren't depressing. I'm not drowning in my tears of sorrow, or open wound. They're all heartfelt, believe me, but these songs have a strong backbone to them, not falling victim to the elements. Some might think it's a concept album and in a way, they're all interconnected themes."

Death never sounded so inviting.


to talks

EmtyWords-Published on June 16 2002