Comments by Perry M. Grayson
for EmptyWords


Chuck Schuldiner~Scott Clendenin~Richard Christy~Shannon Hamm

The Sound Of Perseverance - 1998

A powerhouse of previously "unknown" musicians. Previous lineups gave these guys a lot to live up to. It isn't easy to fill the shoes of Gene Hoglan, Steve DiGiorgio, James Murphy, Paul Masvidal, or Andy LaRocque. This album put Richard Christy on the map as one of metal's finest and busiest drummers, opening up doors for him to play in many other outfits like Iced Earth and Incantation. Long years of labor in the Houston, Texas scene paid of for lead guitarist Shannon Hamm when he joined forces with Chuck, likewise. All bassist Scott Clendenin brought with him a distinctive pick-playing style-and his love for progressive rock added lots of variety to the Death sound.


Symbolic - 1995

The lineup that crafted what many consider to be Death's finest and most well-rounded album. As far as personalities working well together, there was less trouble here than in previous lineups. This time only Kelly Conlon didn't fit the Death mold. Despite the fact that Steve DiGiorgio was unavailable for SYMBOLIC and the tour to follow, the album and tour was a crushing force to be reckoned with. As on INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS, Gene Hoglan battered the drums crazily. Guitarist Bobby Koelble, an old high school acquaintance of Chuck's, threw some very capable jazz-fusion influenced soloing into the mix.

Chuck Schuldiner~Gene Hoglan~Bobby Koelble~Kelly Conlon


Ralph Santolla~Gene Hoglan~Chuck Schuldiner~Steve DiGiorgio

Individual Thought Patterns - 1993

A killer team to pump out some of the most complex Death riffing ever. Gene Hoglan put aside some old bad vibes that existed between Death and his old band, Dark Angel-and he delivered a drumming performance that not only stood up to Sean Reinert's, but excelled in its own right. Steve DiGiorgio's fretless bass work fit INDIVIDUAL like a glove, and unlike on HUMAN they were very audible. King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque's fiery leadwork (how about that buttery guitar tone?) was a hard act to follow. Unable to tour with Death, Andy's shoes were more than adequately filled by Eyewitness & Millennium shredder Ralph Santolla on the INDIVIDUAL tour of the States.


Human - 1991

Just the band to push Death's already technical sound over the edge to the new evolutionary level Chuck envisioned. Cynic members Masvidal and Reinert both had killer metal chops that were empowered by their love for jazz-fusion. James Murphy was the first truly skilled Death second guitarist, and Paul Masvidal was more than capable of solos with melody, speed, and taste. Sean Reinert's drumming set a new standard for all Death drummers to follow. Skott Carino filled Steve DiGiorgio's shoes on the road, as Steve had prior commitments to his band Sadus. The guitars on the album drowned out most of the bass, and this was also the case on stage...But both bass-men are hailed by most Death fans as their favorites.

Sean Reinert~Skott Carino~Chuck Schuldiner~Paul Masvidal


Terry Butler~Bill Andrews~Chuck Schuldiner~James Murphy

Spiritual Healing - 1990

This volatile lineup crafted the pivotal Death album that saw the introduction of clean production, tons of catchy melody, and more technical riffing and complex arrangements. Though James Murphy wouldn't last long in Death, his fluid axe-slinging on SPIRITUAL opened many doors for him when he went on to record with Obituary, Cancer & Testament. But Murphy wasn't the only one firing off ripping guitar solos. Chuck's long struggle culminated on SPIRITUAL, and his lead guitar ability had matured immeasurably from the days of SCREAM BLOODY GORE and the demos before.


Leprosy - 1988

Though Terry Butler & Bill Andrews would stick with Chuck for two albums, Rick Rozz already had a strained relationship with Chuck from the Mantas demo days. Rick and Chuck patched things up long enough to cut LEPROSY and do a small amount of touring afterward, but this was definitely another volatile Death lineup. Where Chris Reifert was more of a thrash drummer, Bill Andrews' grooves were built on his love for early '80s metal bands like Anvil. Chuck's hyper speed solo style was evolving. Despite Rick Rozz's whammy bar fest, the album is still considered a classic, containing old school Death fans' perennial fave song "Pull the Plug". In the bass department, Terry seems to have followed Chuck's own formula from SCREAM BLOODY GORE.

Terry Butler~Rick Rozz~Bill Andrews~Chuck Schuldiner


Chuck Schuldiner~Chris Reifert

Scream Bloody Gore - 1987

A two man Death machine! Chuck was about 19 and Chris was just 17 when they joined forces to blast out the MUTILATION demo, followed by SCREAM BLOODY GORE. Chuck tackled all the vocals, guitars, and bass-not one to let the lack of a permanent bassist hold his musical vision back! Little did they know that this would be the start of a band that would attain a huge following all over the world and release 7 studio albums. Death was Chris' door to forming his very own band, Autopsy. Chuck and Chris brought gore riddled song titles and lyrics together with fierce and fast metal axe grinding and drumming. In retrospect, it's rather amazing to note that just these two young men alone were able to cut such a heavy album. The SBG sound was quite brutal (although there was plenty of melody and a fair share of slower "doomy" grooves), but Death would only improve with age.