Webzine: Voices From The Darkside
Article: A Tribute To Chuck Schuldiner

Written by: Laurent Ramadier
Translation help by: Jade Hughes


DEATH appeared in its first form at the end of 1983 in Orlando, Florida under the name of MANTAS. The musicians were Charlie “Evil Chuck" Schuldiner (guitar / vocals), Barney "Kam" Lee (drums / vocals) and Frederick "Rick Rozz" DeLillo (guitar). They recorded a first non-official demo / rehearsal tape at the beginning of 1984 with the help of a session bass player whose name still remains unknown (this was the only bass player MANTAS / DEATH used until June 1985). This recording, called "Emotional", contained the first versions of ‘Legion Of Doom’, ‘Evil Dead’ and ‘Mantas’. From this moment onwards it was quite clear to the worldwide intense metal fans that this band could be associated with the only other death metal bands of the period, which were VENOM, SLAYER, POISON, HELLHAMMER / CELTIC FROST, BATHORY, SODOM, POSSESSED and MASTER.

In the middle of 1984 another demo / rehearsal tape, made up of four titles, was recorded called "Death By Metal" and contained gems of brutality (while still keeping a melodic touch) like ‘Legion Of Doom’, ‘Power Of Darkness’, ‘Death By Metal’ and ‘Evil Dead’. The band even managed to play a show on August 1, 1984 in Tampa, Florida, a quite extraordinary feat as the local scene was far from as flourishing as it would be at the end of the 80's / early 90's (the only real heavy bands existing in that area at the time were NASTY SAVAGE, AVATAR (pre-SAVATAGE), SIREN, MORBID ANGEL and a few other small outfits). In their set, MANTAS covered SLAYER’s ‘Black Magic’ and VENOM’s ‘Poison’, these two bands being the principal influences of the band at the time. Chuck eventually decided to split up the band because of lack of support from the local metal scene and because of internal problems in the band.

A few weeks later Chuck decided to put another band together, this one quite simply called DEATH. Eventually Chuck, Rozz and Lee were reconciled and they started to write new songs which would appear on the demo tape ”Reign Of Terror", recorded in October 1984, but which was not completely mixed due to lack of money. Despite this setback, the six tracker (‘Corpse Grinder’, ‘Summoned To Die’, ‘Zombie’, ‘Witch Of Hell’, ‘Reign Of Terror’ and ‘Slaughterhouse’) circulated around the world, thanx to the underground tape trading network, and DEATH appeared as one of the most extreme, talented and brutal bands of the metal scene (this recording also exists as a bootleg single under the name of "Reign Of Terror – Demo II”).

After this, DEATH played two shows at the Ruby's Pub in Brandon, Florida, the first on November 9, 1984 (exists as a bootleg vinyl under the name of "The Face Of Truth”), and the second supporting NASTY SAVAGE on December 30, 1984. This, particular show was recorded by the editors of the fanzine “Guillotine” and was made available to the public in the form of a cassette called "DEATH live". This show permitted many tape traders of the time to discover new numbers which were even more brutal and intense than their predecessors such as ‘Infernal Death’, ‘Curse Of The Priest’ and the godly ‘Archangel’ (which was covered years later by Germany's ATROCITY). DEATH's repertoire was more powerful and faster than ever with Kam and Chuck sharing the vocals! Overall the music lived up to the name of DEATH!

On March 9, 1985, DEATH recorded a new demo (in a real studio this time), better known under the name of “Infernal Death”, containing this tune plus ‘Baptized In Blood’ and ‘Archangel’ (this demo also came out as a bootleg single under the name of "Death Was Good For You"). This was to be the last recording with this line-up as a new fissure was appearing in the band. There are a few songs from this period that never appeared on the demos or the demo / rehearsals, such as ‘Rise Of Satan’, ‘Demon's Flight’, ‘Rigor Mortis’ or the extraordinary ‘Seizure’ which remains as one of the best pieces Chuck composed throughout his career along with the song ‘Archangel’. With this line-up DEATH should have played several dates on the East Coast, such as at the Showplace in Dover, NJ on April 5, 1985 with the likes of AGNOSTIC FRONT, NYC MAYHEM, MENTAL ABUSE and SEIZURE, but due to lack of money these dates were never played.

In the middle of 1985 Chuck got in touch with Scott Carlson, GENOCIDE's bass player / singer (a death metal band from Flint, Michigan, later known as REPULSION), who had sent Chuck a tape of himself playing. Chuck was immediately enthusiastic and asked him to join DEATH. Carlson moved to Orlando, where Chuck was based, to replace Rozz, and brought GENOCIDE’s guitarist Matt Olivo with him. Both joined Chuck and Kam for two months until Lee finally left the band. As they could not find a new drummer, Matt and Scott went back to Michigan to reform GENOCIDE, leaving Chuck to his fate. As for Kam and Rick, the latter joined Lee in MASSACRE during the beginning of 1986, a band originally created by drummer Billy Andrews and guitarist Alan West in September 1985. Lee replaced original rhythm guitarist / singer J.P. Chartier (who joined XECUTIONER right after) and Rozz replacing Alan West who also joined XECUTIONER (pre - OBITUARY).

In September 1985 Chuck moved to San Francisco and got joined by Eric Brecht (previously seen in D.R.I.), and a bassist whose name also remains unknown (but it looks like his first name was also Eric, according to Terence Kelsey from "Black Dethe”), with the intention of making of DEATH the fastest band in the world)! The trio wrote some new songs, which were completely devoted to speed and in October 1985 a demo / rehearsal was recorded called “Back From The Dead" (this also exists as a bootleg vinyl called "Early Demos” and as a bootleg CD called "Infernal Death"). New numbers such as ‘Reign Of Death’, ‘Skill To Kill’ or older ones such as ‘Legion Of Doom’ and ‘Beyond The Unholy Grave’ were on this recording and it quite obvious that the style was very different from old DEATH as they sounded very Hardcore like due to the extraordinary amount of speed which was injected into the old and the new titles (remember how fast the first D.R.I. album was?!), even the vocals were different, much drier and more ear piercing.

From October to December 1985 they managed to play a couple of shows in the Bay Area, in legendary places, such as "The Farm" or "Ruthies Inn", supported by local bands, such as DESECRATION, SACRILEGE. BLACK DETHE, and the mighty INSANITY! But Chuck was quick to realize that this new musical direction did not suit him (but it’s still interesting to note that this period had a big influence on George "Trey Azagthoth" Emmanuel from MORBID ANGEL though). The band split up again, Chuck returning to Florida in the middle of December 1985 (Eric Brecht joining HIRAX to replace John Tabares). At this period, Chuck was contacted by the death metal gang from Toronto, Canada called SLAUGHTER who were on the verge to enter the studio to record their first album "Strappado".

Chuck joined them in the middle of January 1986. The new line-up of SLAUGHTER was Dave Hewson (vocals / guitar), Chuck Schuldiner (vocals / guitar), Terry Sadler (vocals / bass) and Ron Summers (drums). They started to rehearse intensively for the recordings of “Strappado” which was to be held in February 1986. Not only they practiced SLAUGHTER songs but also some DEATH numbers, because the album should have originally contained ‘Evil Dead’ and ‘Legion Of Doom’ (in the beginning they were going to record ‘Baptized In Blood’ and ‘Infernal Death’). But everything ended in failure as Chuck left SLAUGHTER at the beginning of February 1986 on very bad terms, He returned to Florida once again to refine his new vision of DEATH’s next line-up.

A few weeks later he left for San Francisco again where he met a drummer called Chris Reifert and they wrote new titles, such as 'Land Of No Return', 'Torn To Pieces' etc. On April 12 & 13, 1986 the duo recorded a three track demo called "Mutilation" in a studio, containing 'Land Of No Return', 'Zombie Ritual' and the title track. This demo was by far DEATH's best recording effort at this point, but the musical style was quite different from the older songs, more complex and longer, but maybe also less captivating. This demo had a big underground success and New York's Combat Records offered DEATH a five-album contract.

As they did not have anywhere to live in California, Chuck and Chris returned to Orlando, Florida to record their first album in July / August 1986 with Randy Burns (POSSESSED, NUCLEAR ASSAULT…) at the desk. The basic tracks of "Scream Bloody Gore" were recorded (rhythm guitar / drums) but as the results weren't very impressive, the duo went to the Music Grinder Studios in Hollywood, California with Burns to re-record the whole album. This was done in a few days and the pair left for San Francisco, leaving Burns to mix the album. They met a guitarist called John Hand there and invited him to join DEATH, but in fact Hand never recorded anything with DEATH, because he left the band in the middle of 1987. His photo appeared on the cover of the first album, although he had never actually done anything for it, and he was thrown out of the band because of his incapability to play the newer material. "Scream Bloody Gore" was released in May 1987 and was incredibly well received by both the fans and the press in the underground scene.

At this point Chuck decided to go back to Florida as he realized that the scene in California was dying and that he would never really be able to set up his band properly there. He invited Reifert to join him, but being from San Francisco, Reifert did not want to, so Chuck was left on his own again (a few months later Reifert formed AUTOPSY with Eric Cutler and Eric Eigard, joined later by Danny Corrales, ex-BLOODBATH). For the record, in the period from March 1986 to May 1987, DEATH did not play one single live show, as they could never find a bassist.

Back in Florida, Chuck contacted MASSACRE and took on Rick Rozz (guitar), Terry Butler (bass) and Billy Andrews (drums) to complete DEATH's new line-up, leaving Kam Lee out (Lee was later seen in a new band called ABHORENT EXISTENCE at the end of the 80’s. He then met up with his ex-colleague Rozz again around September 1990 for the first reformation of MASSACRE, completed by Joey Cangelosi, ex-WHIPLASH, and Butch Gonzales, ex-GENITORTURERS). With this line-up DEATH gave their first real show at the first Milwaukee Metalfest on July 24, 1987 along with bands such as HALLOWS EVE, AT WAR, SACRIFICE, TROUBLE and KING DIAMOND.

After several local shows from August to October 1987, DEATH began a successful club tour in the Midwest, introducing new songs to the public such as ‘Pull The Plug’ and ‘Left To Die’. At that point they also stopped playing songs that had made DEATH a cult band in the underground scene, such as ‘Legion Of Doom’, ‘Baptized In Blood’ or ‘Evil Dead’ (but it's interesting to point out that they still had to play ‘Evil Dead’ during their first European tour due to fan pressure). They continued to compose songs for the next album until the end of 1987.

At the beginning of 1988, a new Midwest / East Coast tour began, highlighted by the show at the Animal Hall in Brooklyn, NY on January 30, 1988, where DEATH played as headliners alongside AT WAR, HAVE MERCY and WHIPLASH. In April 1988 DEATH was back recording again, but this time at the Morrisound Studios, Tampa, Florida, with producer Dan Johnson (WHIPLASH, SAVATAGE…) and with the help of Scott Burns (who was still practically unknown at the time), to record "Leprosy". This album was a little more accessible than "Scream Bloody Gore" with melodic passages that would become more and more important in the albums to come. Unsurprisingly this album, as well as the older stuff, became an enormous influence onto new bands, such as ENTOMBED, MORGOTH, DISMEMBER, ASPHYX and the new death metal wave as a whole.

On October 23, 1988 DEATH was part of “Ultimate Revenge II” (“Ultimate Revenge I” had been held at the Studio 54, NYC, NY on April 3, 1985 with SLAYER, EXODUS and VENOM), which was held at the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia, PA with FORBIDDEN, FAITH OR FEAR, DARK ANGEL and RAVEN (a video, LP and CD of the festival were issued by Combat Records). The band received a warm welcome despite the fact that their show was very disappointing (in fact their shows continued to be disappointing for a very long time due to a lack of intensity and a working man like delivery of the songs).

Two months later the band started another tour around the East Coast and in the Midwest, which lasted the whole month of December. The once mighty ANVIL opened a few shows for them (ANVIL was one of DEATH's favourite bands for the record).

By February 23, 1989 DEATH arrived in Europe at last, for a European tour that should have lasted at least a month with DESPAIR as guests. The band played the first shows in Belgium, France and Holland (a bootleg vinyl called "Horst 1-3-89" exists), but they went back to the USA at the beginning of March because of problems with the tour organizers, so the German fans did not get to see them. After this "tour" DEATH separated from Eric Greif, their manager (Greif was known for having produced some bands such a.o. Texas TYRUS in the past and managing some small death metal acts from Milwaukee).

At the end of March 1989 DEATH began a US tour called the “Ultimate Revenge” Tour, with DARK ANGEL as co-headliners - both bands being on Combat Records. Unfortunately, what started off as a major tour for thrash / death metal ended up after just a few weeks as a nightmare for the two acts. The principal incident happened at Jannus Landing in St Petersburg, Florida, on May 6, 1989, when DARK ANGEL's merchandiser hit Andrews in the face, which led DEATH leaving the tour and DARK ANGEL finishing it without them.

Shortly afterwards Rick Rozz was fired from the band because of his incompetence to progress and to play the new songs (Rozz then recorded a solo single before joining his old colleague Kam Lee in the revamped MASSACRE in September 1990). DEATH were on the verge to play several shows in Mexico in the middle of June 1989, so they took on Paul Masvidal as a temporary replacement (Masvidal was the guitarist of CYNIC, a band from Miami, Florida formed by Masvidal and Reinert, two ex-SEAWEED members).

When they came back from Mexico they realised that Masvidal could not stay in DEATH as CYNIC was his main priority, so the trio recruited a guitarist named Mark Carter who only stayed for a few weeks because of his musical incompatibility with the rest of the band. Immediately afterwards Chuck contacted a guitarist called James Murphy, who he had known for quite awhile (Murphy had played in the past with HALLOWS EVE for a very brief period and then with AGENT STEEL on their European tour in May / June 1987). Murphy integrated DEATH although his composition style was undoubtedly different from Chuck's, and the band continued to write new songs for the third album.

The album was recorded during the autumn of 1989, with Burns at Morrisound Studios and was titled "Spiritual Healing". The addition of Murphy to the band definitely brought an extra melodic touch to their sound as it can be perfectly heard in songs such as ‘Lowlife’ (check out the amazing lead parts) or others. He also brought a more technical nature to the band, despite Andrews performance which was once again, nothing but WEAK. It should be pointed out to the fans that Chuck used some very old riffs on this album, like the one that starts ‘Back From The Living Dead’ on ‘Living Monstrosity’, or several from ‘Legion Of Doom’ used in the song ‘Spiritual Healing’. The band played at the Milwaukee Metal Fest III on December 2, 1989 with again, a performance that lacked life.

Then, at the end of February 1990, began the "Spiritual Healing" US tour with DEVASTATION as guests. This time the tour covered the whole American territory but at the end of the tour new problems arose, this time concerning Murphy who was quite simply fired (Murphy then went on to join OBITUARY in June 1990 just in time to play the lead parts on their album "Cause Of Death", did two American tours with them and then joined CANCER). DEATH then took on Paul Masvidal again so they could complete the last dates of the tour in Florida in the middle of April 1990.

Right after that, the band planned to do a European tour during May 1990 with Masvidal as a substitute guitarist, but the tour was cancelled because Music For Nations, their European label, would not agree with the tour conditions. The band needed to search yet again for a new guitarist which they found in Albert Gonzales, an ex-EVIL DEAD member, who joined them on the new US tour that started in Miami Beach on August 17, 1990 with CARCASS as guests (they were later joined by PESTILENCE). The tour led them to the Country Club in Reseda, California on October 5, 1990 which was the last date Gonzales did with the band (Gonzales was later seen in RISE) and DEATH played the last few shows as a trio.

The European tour was only two weeks away and Chuck decided to cancel it for personal reasons. Andrews and Butler decided to do it no matter what, they took on Walter Trachsler (soundman on the preceding US DEATH tour and ex-Texas ROTTING CORPSE member) as guitarist and Louie Carrisalez (ex-ROTTING CORPSE, DEVASTATION) as vocalist and played under the name of DEATH for the long European tour where they supported KREATOR. The members of the line-up even went as far as calling this band A.B.C.T. Project, see why?! This tour lasted until December 1990 and was neither a fiasco nor a success for this "band" (check out the bootleg vinyl "The Final Gigs"). The worst rumours about Chuck's mental health went around during this tour, but at the time Schuldiner was preparing his counter-attack to reboost DEATH's name once again (Andrews and Butler joined Rozz and Lee who had contacted them during the European tour to prepare the real comeback of MASSACRE as the previous reformation of MASSACRE from September 1990 did not live up to everyone's expectations).

Chuck started to write new material in the beginning of 1991, then contacted Masvidal and his colleague drummer from CYNIC, Sean Reinert. This was followed by intense rehearsals and SADUS bassist, Steve DiGiorgio, (Chuck had known him since his second trip to San Francisco in March 1986) joined the trio. The quartet was ready to record a new album at the Morrisound Studios in April 1991 with Scott Burns again. The album was to be called "Human" and lyrically centred around the ordeals Chuck had had to deal with at the end of 1990. The contribution of these three musicians to the band revolutionised the musical universe of DEATH, mostly thanks to DiGiorgio and Reinert's technicality. But the new dynamical gust blown into DEATH's sound took on a whole new dimension during the tours that were to follow. DEATH produced a video clip for first time called 'Lack Of Comprchension', which was broadcasted many times on MTV. During the "Human" recording sessions, they recorded a cover of 'God Of Thunder' by KISS for a compilation album on Roadrunner Records (their new label in Europe) and it also appeared on the Japanese pressing of "Human".

In October / early November 1991 the band rehearsed once again for the upcoming tours but this time without DiGiorgio who had gone back to SADUS, Scott Carino, an ex-FESTER member, replaced him. The US tour started in Tampa on November 9, 1991 with PESTILENCE and VIOGRESSION as guests. At the same time Chuck and Eric Greif (Chuck's former manager and VIOGRESSION manager) were reconciled. The tour was interrupted at the beginning of December as DEATH was to take part in the Rock Hard Christmas festivals that were to take place in Europe from December 18 to 23 (along with NAPALM DEATH, PESTILENCE, CANNIBAL CORPSE and DISMEMBER as support), those shows were supposed to announce the big return of DEATH (a bootleg CD of one of these festivals titled "Baptized In Blood - Live 19/12/91" exists).

At the beginning of January 1992 DEATH finished their American tour on the West Coast and then crossed the Atlantic for their European tour (PESTILENCE were supposed to support DEATH but they weren't included on the bill at the end as the friendship between the two bands came to an end in December 1991). The tour started at Mc Gonagles in Dublin on February) and took them almost all over Europe. For the first time it seemed that a European DEATH tour was going to go from start to finish, but this did not happen because in the beginning of March several shows were cancelled at the last minute in Germany. The other dates that were also scheduled in England, France and other countries were cancelled when Chuck realised that Eric Greif, the tour manager, had managed to build up a debt of $14.000 to the transport company. So once again, the tour was cut short. The musicians had to go back to the USA and wait until the debt was paid off to get their equipment back. In fact they had to wait five months to get it back and Chuck took legal proceedings against Eric Greif.

At this point (mid '92) Chuck started to write some new stuff and decided not to work with Carino, Masdival and Reinert again for unknown reasons (Masdival and Reinert started to work on CYNIC's first album, "Focus" after several bass player changes Carino was later seen with LOWBROW). To the general surprise, Chuck got in touch with Gene Hoglan ex-DARK ANGEL drummer (DARK ANGEL had split up a little time beforehand). The two men seemed to bave settled the differences there had been between them during the '89 Ultimate Revenge Tour (trivia fans will be interested to know that at the same time Gene had been contacted to work on MASSACRE's second album, as Butler and Andrews had left MASSACRE by mid 1992, but in the end nothing happened with him).

This time Chuck also wanted to work with a new guitarist, if possible someone he admired, and he chose to get in touch with Andy LaRocque (ex-SWEDISH EROTICA, KING DIAMOND). Chuck and Gene jammed together on the tunes that Chuck had written, and once again DiGiorgio joined them for the recording. As for LaRocque, he put his leads on different tracks on the album. "Individual Thought Patterns" was produced by Burns and recorded at Morrisound as usual.

Before the album was released DEATH was invited to join the European "Full Of Hate" festivals that took place in April 1993, with Steve DiGiorgio, and with Ralph Santolla (EYEWITNESS) as second guitarist to complete the line-up. The album was released two months later and was to be the last on Combat / Relativity. Thanks to LaRoque's verve and Hoglan's incredible drumming, the album was a real success, one of the rare albums that mixed catchiness, melody and brutality so perfectly! A video clip was made from this album with 'The Philosopher', a song that became one of the crowds fave along with 'Pull The Plug'. The US tour for the release of the album took place in July 1993, with GOREFEST and SACRIFICE as support with the same line-up as for the "Full Of Hate" festivals. For the first time since DEATH started touring regularly (around Autumn of 1987), the shows did not sound like chainwork in a factory, and a new vigour was brought into the material in comparison to the studio versions. But this was nothing in comparison with the European shows that were to come.

DEATH were preparing to return to Europe after the past disasters, and as Santolla could not go with them (he had to work on EYEWITNESS's first album), Chuck got in touch with Craig Lucicero (FORBIDDEN), whom he knew since the "Ultimate Revenge II" show). He accepted to join them as FORBIDDEN was in a quiet period. The European tour started in Bradford, UK with ANACRUSIS as guests on September 28, 1993. It started with a big surprise because DEATH did a cover of 'Black Magic' that night, something that had not happened since 1983 (if we don't count the KISS cover that they executed at a few shows in March 1992)! This tour was a great success and a sign for Chuck that DEATH's public was still there and behind him. During this tour Chuck dedicated several shows to bands that had given him hours of listening pleasure. For example, he dedicated the British shows to BITCHES SIN, WITCHFINDER GENERAL..., the French show to SORTILEGE, H-BOMB, BLASPHEME..., the Belgium show to ACID (and we can imagine that in Spain he dedicated shows to BARON ROJO, OBUS, PANZER... etc). For the first time this tour happened without any falls from the beginning to the end, and stayed for many the best DEATH tour ever, with an incredible line-up (because even if Locicero didn't retranscribe LaRocque's solos like Santolla did, his stage presence was intense as hell just like with FORBIDDEN). The audience at these shows will never forget the madness and the feeling that swept through them (once they returned to the USA Locicero went back to FORBIDDEN who recorded their third album "Distortion" - thanks to the contract that Craig was able to sign in Europe with G.U.N. Records).

In the beginning of 1994, Relativity asked Chuck to give them an EP containing only covers to broadcast on US college radios. The tracks that were supposed to be recorded were KISS's 'Strange Ways', SLAYER's 'Black Magic' and POSSESSED's 'The Exorcist' (that had been massacred by CANNIBAL CORPSE a year before). But because of the lack of advertisement given to "Individual Thought Patterns" this EP was never made. This period was also the end of the contract with them. Relativity took advantage of this to release a compilation record called "Fate" (and the other bands of the label, like EXODUS, FORBIDDEN, DARK ANGEL and POSSESSED, had to go through the same experience).

During 1994 Chuck took part in the VOODOO CULT project with Dave Lombardo and Mille Petrozza amongst others, an album was released but is better forgotten.

Still during 1994 DiGiorgio and the duo Chuck Schuldiner / Gene Hoglan separated as DiGiorgio decided to go back to SADUS. Chuck decided to ask the ex-bassist of WATCHTOWER / RETARTED ELF, Doug Keyser, to join him for his next opus, but Keyser eventually refused the offer (like he had already done with ATHEIST when the Sarasota act asked him to play on "Unquestionable Presence"). Chuck also tried to get LaRocque for the new album but he declined the offer as he was working on KING DIAMOND's new album "The Spider's Lullaby". Schuldiner finally decided to employ some local musicians and he chose an old acquaintance, Bobby Koelble (guitar) and a new guy Kelly Conlon (bass). DEATH went into studio to record the sixth album with this line-up, but this time the producer was Jim Morris, as Scott Burns could not take part in the recording.

A short time afterwards, in January 1995, the band went to Australia for the first time for a few shows.

Then "Symbolic" was released in April 1995 on Roadrunner Records worldwide, a new label for the band and a breath of fresh air. DEATH went on tour straight away with the "Full Of Hate" European festivals in April 1995.

In June they started a new North American tour with a new bassist to replace Conlon, Brian Benson (from locals PAIN PRINCIPAL), NEVERMORE as guests.

In September the band went to Japan for the first time ever for a few shows, where they were received extremely well (two bootleg CD's of these shows in Japan exist, "Live In Japan - Symphonic Technicalogy" and "Opened Casket").

A week later, in the middle of September, came the European tour, and became one of the longest the band had done on the old continent.

Then came the year 1996 and the big break for Chuck. Gene Hoglan joined STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and several other projects, Koelble disappeared and everyone waited to see what would happen.

By late '95 everyone had learnt that Chuck had built a new band called CONTROL DENIED featuring new musicians such as Richard Christy (drums), Scott Cledenin (bass), Shannon Hamm (guitar) and B.C. Richards (vocals) - who apparently didn't last long in the band - with a different musical orientation, especially concerning the vocals. For several years Schuldlner had wanted to do a project centered on heavy metal with a singer a la Christian Augustin (ex-SORTILEGE, SQUATTER). At one point Warrel Dane was announced (ex - SANCTUARY, NEVERMORE) but nothing really came out of this even if a four track demo tape with him was recorded during 1997 ('Voice Of The Soul', 'What If... ?', 'A Moment Of Clarity' and 'Cut Down').

Time passed, and in 1998 a new DEATH album was announced to be released on Nuclear Blast Records this time, as Chuck had separated from Roadrunner Records. But first DEATH took part In the Dynamo Open Air Festival In Eindhoven, The Netherlands, on May 31, 1998 for the first time, and they introduced a new track called 'Flesh And The Power It Holds' (this show has been released on CD and DVD by Nuclear Blast under the title of "Live In Eindhoven '98" as it had been originally broadcasted by the Dutch radio a few months after the event took place). The album titled "The Sound Of Perseverance" was released a few weeks later, featuring CONTROL DENIED musicians (with Chuck doing the vocals of course, his vocals sounding somewhat black metal influenced on this release), but also two tracks which originally appeared on the CD demo. Three years after "Symbolic", "The Sound Of Perseverance" was another pure metal offering to the real metal scene! This album was once again produced by Jim Morris.

On July 24, 1998 they appeared for the third time at the Milwaukee Metalfest, and in September they started a new European tour, with a set that went on for more than 90 minutes, for the first time ever.

On November 7, 1998 they arrived in Santiago, Chile for a unique show, and a week later they started their US tour with HAMMERFALL as support. This tour lasted until mid December, the Whiskey A Gogo show in Los Angeles, California from December 5, was recorded and has been released in October 2001 by Nuclear Blast on different supports (vinyl, CD, video and DVD).

During 1999, Chuck decided to concentrate fully on CONTROL DENIED and asked once again Steve DiGiorgio to help him out for the bass parts (Scott Cledenin being out of the band), the line up being completed by the original CONTROL DENIED / DEATH musicians (Christy and Hamm) and Tym Aymar on vocals (formerly with PSYCHO SCREAM). Not so surprisingly, Jim Morris was used as the 6th member and Morrisound Studios again for the recording of the first opus which was finally released in late '99 under the title of "The Fragile Art Of Existence", a premonitory title? Maybe... The album was well received even if I for one expected something else considering that musically it was more or less very similar to the latest DEATH releases and vocally nobody can say that Aymar was the most adequate singer for a power metal band.

As the album was offered to the masses, and a tour was expected in support of that release, news that Chuck had developed a brain tumor came to our ears and after a two years fight, tragedy happened on December 13, 2001.

To complete that long story, it seems Chuck had signed a deal with Hammerheart Records after the Nuclear Blast releases and wanted to release a second CONTROL DENIED album on this label. Recent reports show that DiGiorgio, Aymar, Christy and Hamm appear determinated to complete work on that second album entitled "When Machine And Man Collide" for a late 2002 release. A record entitled "Zero Tolerance" featuring DEATH's early demos was also scheduled for February 2002 on this Dutch label so it remains to be seen if Hammerheart will still release it or not following that tragic event.

I'd like to end up my biography by adding those words: Chuck and I having the same age, we both grew up listening and enjoying the same bands, sharing the same degree of enthusiasm for metal and I feel extremely sad seeing such a talented musician leaving us. May he hook with our brothers whom he shared the stage with at different times, Roger Patterson and Joe DeZuninga and form another extraordinary outfit with those so much missed individuals...

Last but not least, thanx to Chuck for those 15 years of listening pleasure! 1967 - 2001 R.I.P.

Laurent Ramadier

This tribute originally appeared in SNAKEPIT MAGAZINE # 10. Used with kind permission.


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Edited for Empty©Words 05-13-08