Chuck Schuldiner (RIP December 13-2001)


Magazine: Rock Tribune / Belgium
Article: Een Legende Is Niet Meer...

Written by: Andy Hamerlinck and Erik Mensinga
Published: February 2002


The year 2001 ended with a drastic, emotional, and, for a lot of fans and music lovers, tragic goodbye to one of the most influencual musicians that the metal world has ever known. On December 15, the news got out that Chuck Schuldiner, frontman of Death and guitarist of his other brainchild Control Denied, lost his battle with his disease two days prior. At the moment I started writing this homage, I thoroughly realised that it's almost impossible to give a grandmaster like Chuck a memorial worthy of him. He was at the same time 'the face' and the center figure of the death metal genre. Unquestionably a lot of musicians were inspired and influenced by Chuck.

At the end of '83, Chuck Schuldiner, Rick Rozz and Kam Lee (both later in Massacre-remember the beautiful "From Beyond") got together and founded MANTAS. The band, influenced by bands like Venom and Slayer, is active for only a few years and somewhere mid '84 released five rehearsel tracks under the name "Death By Metal". The extreme sound of the band and the lack of understanding from mainly the local scene made Mantas split up pretty soon. With the goal to be the most extreme band on this earth, Chuck ultimately founded (at age 18) DEATH, and with the help from his old bandmates he recorded "Reign Of Terror". The six tracks on this demo go around the tapetrade network all around the world. The take off of an 'extreme' metal legend is now a fact.

After the release of the next tape "Infernal Death" the band members grow apart further and further and Chuck decides, after some wandering around, to continue the band with other members. By the time that the "Mutilation" demo sees the light of day, drummer Chris Reifert (later vocalist/drummer of Autopsy and Abcess) took the place behind the drumkit and Death manages to score a record deal with Combat Records.
The debut album "Scream Bloody Gore" sees the light of day in the beginning of '87 and is being received almost everywhere as THE death metal release of all time.

Again an intensive line-up change takes place, and with Rick Rozz, Bill Andrews (drums) and bassist Terry Butler, the band goes into the studio in 1988 to record "Leprosy". Despite the explosive growth of death metal bands, Death manages to stay, without any problems, one of the most influentual bands, also because of all time metal staples like "Pull The Plug", "Open Casket" and the title track. The personal problems with Rick Rozz make Chuck send him away and take in James Murphy as a replacement.

The third album "Spiritual Healing", released in 1990, would become the turning point for Death. Music-wise the band deviates a little bit from the 'basic' death metal, and instead the music is better arranged, more technical, and with more socially critical lyrics. The progression (lyrically as well as musically) that is started on this album will be of major importance to distinguish them from an avarage death metal band. Later that year some of the band members got the crazy idea of touring Europe together with Kreator and Devastation, without Chuck. Chuck stays home and Devastation lends out their singer during the tour to replace him.

The urge to reach musical progression is being continued on "Human". Again a drastic line-up change takes place within the band. Slowly it becomes more and more clear that Chuck needs to change to be able to expand his ideas and enrich them with fusion and technical elements. On "Human" we see a refined line-up with two members of the technical death metal band Cynic: guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert. Also Sadus' bassist Steve DiGiorgio makes his entrance. Songs like "Suicide Machine", "Lack Of Comprehension" and (the instrumental) "Cosmic Sea" guarantee the quality and success Schuldiner stands for. The constant changing of line-ups isn't being received well by some of the press and fans. Chuck gets (wrongly!) a reputation of being arrogant and selfish. It's true that Chuck was a reticent yet honest human being, which is wrongly being confused with something negative.

The stubborn and musical perfectionist Schuldiner, manages again to gather a very respectable and impressive line-up for his fifth record. Bassplayer Steve DiGiorgio is left over from the former session and seems to be the only one to be able to keep track of Chuck's ideas. Completed with drum monster Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel) and guitar virtuoso Andy LaRocque (King Diamond), it is the ultimate line-up! The four manage to lay down ten masterpieces on "Individual Thought Patterns", among which "The Philosopher" and "Trapped In A Corner". The music again on "Individual.." is much more refined and has more depth than its predecessors. In short, an album on which the original ideas of a musical genius turn out perfectly.




In 1995 "Symbolic" is released and marks an uparalleled success in taking the best out of both worlds (techique and death metal). Also Morrisound (studio) start to manifest themselves as an indispensable part within the Floridian band. "Symbolic", "EmptyWords", "Crystal Mountain" and "Zero Tolerance" are just a few jewels on this album. Besides the perfectly executed songs, there's also a lot of melody on it, which makes this album into a masterpiece. Next to Gene Hoglan, Chuck is being accompanied on this album by bassist Kelly Conlon and guitarist Bobby Koelble.

Three years later what was unfortunatly the last album that Chuck would ever record with Death is released: "The Sound Of Perseverance". Again an album that perfectly balances between death metal and technical skills. The base turns out perfectly and technically the album is scarily impressive. This is heard on "Spirit Crusher", "Flesh And The Power It Holds" and "Bite The Pain". The nine songs on "The Sound…" unmistakably form the most daring and surprising album of this cult band. Also because of the musical contributions of Shannon Hamm (guitar), Scott Clendenin (bass) and Richard Christy (drums), this album is landmark for the progression and development that the band went through.

In 1999 Chuck surprises everybody with a new project, Control Denied. Before "The Sound Of Perseverance" was even released, Chuck was busy writing material for the new project, which was going to use a more traditional sound. Chuck is concentrating completely on the guitar and leaves the microphone to somebody else. Together with Richard Christy, Shannon Hamm, bassist Steve DiGiorgio and singer Tim Aymar, Chuck records eight tracks, on which a typical 'Schuldiner sound' is forming a red thread across the songs. On "The Fragile Art Of Existence" the musical influence of Chuck shows to full advantage, and again his unparalleled musical genius has been layed down.

Just after the release of this album the disturbing news is send into the world that Chuck is suffering from a rare form of cancer (braintumor). After a lot of wandering around, and negative reactions from several doctors, Chuck didn't give up hope and got a chance to undergo treatment. Because of the enormous costs everything seemed to go wrong. Fortunately he got the support from metalfans and bands all over the world. By means of benefits and auctions, money was raised. For a little time it looked as if Chuck was recovering well, but in November 2000 things got pretty bad. Because of the intense chemo therapies, Chuck got so weak that he suffered from a severe pneumonia. The last message was the sad and shocking news that Chuck lost his battle against cancer on December 13th 2001 once and for all……

The recordings of the second Control Denied album "When Machine And Man Collide" were already started and probably will be finished by the remaining band members, as a tribute to this metalgod.


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Translated by YK/MM for EmptyWords-Published on Februari 23 2002