“I don't mean to dwell, but I can't help myself
When I feel the vibe and taste a memory
Of a time in life when years seemed to stand still

Do you remember when things seemed so eternal?
Heroes were so real... their magic frozen in time”

[lyrics from “Symbolic”]


Webzine: Rising Power / USA
Article: Salute to Charles "Evil Chuck" Schuldiner

Written by: Tony Belcher
Published: December 2003



December 13th, 2003 marked the second anniversary of the unfortunate passing of Death Metal hero, legend, and even fanboy, Chuck Schuldiner. Why was he left to succumb to death, coincidentally the name of his primary band… his band that would ultimately define and be recognized as the progenitor of the genre that still bears the name Death… Death, that dark mother who claims her sons where and when as only she sees fit?

Was it because he could not get insurance for pontine glioma, a “pre-existing condition” which is a description of illness that otherwise dehumanizes people? Was it because musical genius is plainly not to be ours for long on this mortal coil? Evil Chuck, as he came to be known, lived an altogether too brief life of 34 years and 7 months to the day.

Born on the 13th. Died on the 13th. The dichotomous description of 13 as an unlucky number but also as a very Metal number need not be digressed into at this point. It is, after all, just a number. But Chuck Schuldiner was not merely just a man. He was a legend in music that went unheard by far too many ears.

Reading interviews with Chuck, you could not help but feel his personality reach out and grab you. Listening to the man’s records, you could not help but hear his personality reach out and consume you. Seeing the man in concert, you could not help but see his personality reach out and possess you. He was that kind of man. His music was that kind of music. His absence is that kind of absence.

Evil Chuck is sorely missed by the Heavy Metal community, countless fans around the world, and certainly by his family. The daunting task of completing Chuck’s eternal wish to “Let the Metal Flow” -- his personal catch phrase -- now lays on the shoulders of Jane Schuldiner, his mother. Upon his passing, Chuck was midway through the recording of the second and unfortunately final Control Denied album. The rest of the musicians involved with the project are waiting in a sort of limbo based on legal issues that no mother, much less any music fan, wants to have to see. One of these days we can hope to hear Chuck’s final notes. This writer and fan anxiously waits for that day.

“Those that stood beside me
I'm glad you understand
Behind these written words
I share the simple plan
To hang on to the way that we feel”

[lyrics from “Perennial Quest”]

The legacy that Schuldiner left behind is huge. He will always live on through his music, perhaps ironically so for a man who named his band Death. If you have never gotten into Death, why not do so now? I can remember the first time I heard each Death album. It was an experience then and remains so to this day. Symbolic and The Sound of Perseverance are easily my favorites, but the musicianship of Schuldiner and his rotating bandmates cannot be denied, particularly on 1991’s Human and those that followed. The instrumental “Voice of the Soul” still brings tears to my eyes. It is magic.

Information about Death’s members can be found in several places on the web, hence their omission here, but suffice it to say that many influential Metal madmen have spent time in Schuldiner’s camp and gone on to leave their own impact on Heavy Metal. More than one tribute to Evil Chuck is in the works, perhaps the most meaningful of these featuring James Murphy, the lead guitar master that has played not only with Death, but also with Cancer, Obituary, Testament, Konkhra, and his own Disincarnate, among others. The significance? James Murphy also has a rare form of cancer -- pituitary macro-adenoma -- but is recovering after the removal of tumors from behind his face.

Another Chuck who battles cancer to this day is the frontman of Testament himself, Chuck Billy. In a move that made many a metalhead mindful, Billy gave half of the proceeds obtained from the “Thrash of the Titans” benefit, held on his behalf in August 2001, to the Schuldiner Fund. Unfortunately it was too little, too late. Billy had this to say at that time:

“I'm in contact with Chuck and his mom and I know how hard help is needed there. It's great that all my Bay Area friends want to help me out, but Chuck Schuldiner is doing far worse than me. I came out of my chemotherapy [for germ cell seminoma] pretty undamaged…. Chuck, on the other hand, is having a very hard time financially and on top of that his health has gotten worse.”

The end of an era was a new beginning. Owing to the magnificent sound put forth by Chuck Schuldiner, inspiration has once again spread throughout the Heavy Metal world. In the past few years in particular, perhaps commencing with Chuck’s death, Heavy Metal has made a virtual comeback. Yes, true Metal never left, but bands that were once relegated solely to the underground have received attention far greater than one might have ever imagined. Out of death, a rebirth.

We move on in Chuck’s absence but know that he watches over us, as the lyrics from “Sacred Serenity” prophesied:

“Wherever we go, whatever we do
Your shadow is not far behind our steps and our breath
Protecting and watching all...”

[lyrics from "Sacred Serenity"]


So it is now, Chuck. We will do our best to always “Let the metal flow.”


to memorial

EmptyWords-Published on February 23 2004