Magazine: Aardschok-Metal Hammer / Netherlands
Article: Killed by Death

Written by: Wim Baelus
Published: June 1993


Corps grinding death metal".......At the time a pretty cryptic description which, within living memory unconditionally stayed comined to an as even facinating Grand Master in the heaviest metal amalgams. The most primitive instincts indeed were musically forged at first by semi legendary cult bands like Venom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and Possesed. But eventually it was Death and more guitarist / vocalist Chuck Schuldiner whom as one of the most inspired until this very day, dared allow broader dimensions into the rampant growth of black/death metal. After "Scream Bloody Gore" ('87), "Leprosy" ('88), "Spiritual Healing" ('90) and "Human" ('91) the album to be released in June "Individual Thought Patterns", promises to reveal the fifth link in Death's resolute surge for international recognition."

"I don't think I ever dared to be as enthusiastic about the songs and especially about the execution of them. This time I really think it's banded by perfection. The studio work passed off pretty smooth as well with the responsible technicians as with the band members and mainly the last aspect turned out to be very good. I am very satisfied with the balanced, versatile and stable sound we've created. The big difference compared to the previous releases mainly lies in the specific approach of every singel song. It made ITP more varied and flexible. "Human" in fact was pretty direct, very aggressive and brutal. Also in new songs like "Overactive Imagination", "In Human Form" or "Mentally Blind" there's enough space reserved for pure energy and aggression, but there are a lot more subtle elements build in than before. We experimented with all kinds of unusual riff techniques, melody lines and lead parts which despite of their bizarre constructions led to great results. In comprehensible words I would say the new album breaths more contrasting moods, one another alternating emotions keeping the whole thing refreshing and gripping.

Working together with very gifted musicians with a professional attitude should have been of some importance......

CHUCK: "ABSOLUTELY, everybody involved imposed themselves with total concentration, above all the musicians. As second guitarist I hired Andy LaRoque of King Diamond, behind the drums Gene Hoglan of Dark Angel and finally Steve DiGiorgio, Sadus' bass player, who played on the previous album as well. One by one very gifted musicians but perfectly fitting in the musical concept of Death. Indeed they had to play songs I wrote but in their own way brought in something personal that made the whole more valuable. By the way I think that with some of them I've finally got a definite line up together. Andy has his own activities of course but with Dark Angel discontinued and Sadus not seeming to be al that busy I offered Gene and Steve to come play with Death permanent. At the moment I am working with Ralph Santulla as second guitarist, he's from an unknown heavy metal band from Florida and ever since we met in the studio we get along great. Besides he's very talented musically/technically and he also will be taking part in the official line up."

Of course Scott Burns and Morrisound were members of the party.

CHUCK: "OF COURSE, it's a pity how much Scott is being criticized. He is and stays the most obvious producer for Death and will be there on the next album also. Why change, because of others thinking it's "trendy"??? Look, when you come in the same pizza bar for years simply because they have the best pizza's you don't leave because everybody wants to eat you??? And criticizing the cook is even more stupid..... Scott has built up a strong connection with the band throughout the years and realizes how important his contribution is, he knows over and over again as nobody else how Death is supposed to be sounding, we seldom argue about that. I deliver him the music and he takes care of the recordings, an ideal combination, the albums are sounding from it !! Scott came along on this tour to keep an eye on things and to make new contacts."

Throughout the years the Death sound developed to be more technical and progressive, to my personal opinion your old demo tracks like "Slaughterhouse",
"Summoned To Die", "Legion Of Doom", "Archangel", "Evil Dead" etc. etc......still are the best.

CHUCK: "It's your perfect right but I don't wanna even think of having to play that shit again. Even from the debut "Scream Bloody Gore" I only play "Zombie Ritual" still and I hope the fans understand my point of view. I don't have to look back ashamed at my beginning days, we were enormously fanatical. We were striving after playing as heavy and speedy as possible and omitted more or less the technical and composal aspects. I still get to hear there were loads of good ideas in it that even would fit in our new songs but that's something I am absolutely against. Above all things I wanna prevent Death from stagnating. The riffs and constructions I work with today are far more technical, well-thought through and intelligent. I would restrict myself a lot when I stick to the old. This might sound pretentious but even now after all those years I still want, above all to keep myself satisfied with my music. When you tell me you like my old albums and demo's more I respect that but won't let it be of any influence. Bands playing over and over again the music that brought them success to keep the fans satisfied will end up with nothing left of their original creativity. Those bands die a slow death. They keep themselves artificial and don't work on evolution. I want to prevent that from happening with Death. My ideals keep changing constantly, to write better music, play tighter and more technical and keep the originality. That urge for perfection is my most important motivation and my personal interpretation of good.....metal."

You're hesitant of using the word death metal.........

CHUCK: "What about "marihuana metal" as an alternative. No, death metal is far too particular and far too limited to me nowadays. Metal sound broader and more fitting these days to Death. I used to identify with that definition, but a lot happened in the meantime. Above all there's my own musical development on which I brought in so many new elements over the past few years, that only the use of my voice could still pass off as death metal. Besides the, eager for sensation, press together with a lot of irresponsible bands blew the genre completely. Unbelievable what noise without any inspiration is sold as death metal nowadays. When pure death metal fans are being attracted by my music it flatters me of course, but I want to reach more people. I never intended to play commercial or more accessible deliberately, I would have belied my nature, my ideals. It's a fact the definition death metal no longer has to go together with the band Death."

Back to demo days. Recently the German band Atrocity covered "Archangel" on CD.

CHUCK: "And I must admit they did pretty good. When they asked my permission I was surprised that somebody even remembered that song, but I liked the idea. For I would never play it again, nor take ideas out of that song, so why make problems about them covering it? Less enthusiastic I was about Massacre when I saw their CD "Corpse Grinder". They can tell whatever they want, I wrote that song. Yet another example about the underhand dodges of people accusing me of all sorts of things. Damn, at least I don't have to steal somebody's music, I write my own !!!"

I remember old rehearsal/live tapes on which you played songs of Hellhammer and Venom......

CHUCK: "Yes I did, out of admiration of those bands. I never thought once in all those years about taking their ideas. They inspired me in the very beginning very much you know. Before Death we were active under the name Mantas, called after the guitarist of Venom. I still listen to those old bands as well as Anvil, Mercyful Fate, Raven etc. etc....... The scene was far more spontaneous back then, not as jealous and divided as these days. There wasn't even talk of death metal, speed metal or trash metal. Everything was called heavy metal or even just metal, which was great. Every now and then I listen to some new bands and I must admit there's some pretty amazing stuff I hear, but unfortunately I rarely get that old feeling. I heard the other day Mercyful Fate joined again..... That's great news, I am looking forward to their new CD!!!"

The painful moment........ everybody talks about. Chuck is an asshole who always want to have things his way, without any negotiation whatsoever.

CHUCK: "Yeah, it's a fact, but do people spreading this know me at all?? So much rot is being told. Things are blown out of proportion and interlarded with lies. It's true I had my problems with some people but that's part of the deal when you meet and have contact with as many people as I do. My principles are simple, someone who's friendly with me can expect the same from me.But someone not being friendly and making things hard on me also can expect the same.I don't want to go into the Pestilence or other affairs once more but I hardly ever feel responsible for this kind of shit. A lot of bullshit is being spread by those who are jealous because I have reached what they only can dream about. They can't stand the fact Death means something. It's jealousy. I wrote a song about those people on the new album with a suitable title "Jealousy".

The only way to defend myself, through my songs. You only hear their side of the story all the time, told from their points of view concealing what they did. There's being told I am only in this music for the money. But damn I don't have a dime! I left the States for this tour with about $10 on my account. Should I be in this for the money I would play in some glam band. There's hardly any money to make in this genre. Death may have become a big and notorious name but I am not getting rich of that. My only motivation is in the music I play. I want to make more money, sure I do, but I don't believe that'll happen in the near future."

Something what personally charmed me very much is the brief statement on Spiritual Healing spitting out your venom about everybody accomplishing the downfall of vinyl.

CHUCK: "I love vinyl, music lives on it man!!! Those fucking little CD's are so senseless and materialistic. Vinyl has so much more charm. Take alone the cover ! Music often sounds better on vinyl as well. I am aware there are a lot of people thinking different about this, but even my own music I think sounds better on vinyl. On CD everything sounds so chilly, cold, artificial. Especially old albums stay a lot more complete and authentic although there are exeptions, but that's mostly with remixed versions. It bothers me a lot that Individual Thought Patterns only was released on CD in the States. In Europe it'll be available on vinyl also, I will get my copy!!!"

Anything more to say?

CHUCK: "I hope everybody who's swallowing those lies about me so easy will finally begin to think for themselves instead of just spreading, out of lazyness, what they heard by chance. Those people don't know me at all, never met me, yet think they can tell all about me.... People spreading gossip merely act out of jealousy. Don't listen to it, they never will achieve anything themselves. They realize all to well and their frustration is worked off at me. As if I am to blame for it they blew it for themselves. I hope that clears things, I can be nice for those who deserve it, not for sneaky devils putting me in a bad light behind my back. That's all I have to say.........Oh, no......SUPPORT VINYL !"

That's the end of my talk with an extreme sympathetic friendly, maybe some suspicion harboring, Chuck Schuldiner. In the meantime I heard that the announced Samael is canceled from the show by Chuck and his management because they wouldn't fit in the concept of Death and merely gave them a bad reputation. When I asked Chuck about this a few days later he denied, perceptible irritated, all accusations......Rumors again!

Wim Baelus

to talks

Translated by YK/AS for EmptyWords-Published on June 3 1999