I - by Volkmar Weber
On December 13, 2001 the metal community was shaken to its
foundations, yes almost paralysed. Chuck Schuldiner is dead!
Despite all hope for recovery, waiting in vain for a new
Death album. Chuck was everything but predictable and what
hurts the most is the fact that with him we lost something
we can't even grasp, or even imagine. Chuck and DEATH was
the symbioses of total madness, perseverance and creativity.
Chuck was the much-adored innovator, who actually was able
at all times to gather and enchant people around him. I'm
very sure that every single one of you has a Death album
at home, and among them certainly is one that means more
to you than just music. Chuck infected listeners, changed
many enlightened fans into musicians themselves, who on
their turn took other fans in their slipstream, whether
it was with raw outbursts like 'Scream Bloody Gore' or with
technical masterpieces like 'Symbolic'.
At the beginning of the
chain there were just a few, and Chuck Schuldiner certainly
was one of them. Now the living legend became a real legend.
Especially painful is the fact that the battle that took
more than two years, was lost in the end. Somehow everyone
was hoping, and perhaps believing, that our Chuck was
going to make it. All the fundraising, all the benefit
concerts, all the auctions, have they all been for nothing?
Or is fate just being fate in the end? I believe that
nobody needs to be convicted, because it will neither
make the pain less, nor change the fact that Chuck's eyes
are shut forever since December 13, 2001. Each and every
one of you is going to honor Chuck in your own way and
give him a place in your heart. Even though Chuck certainly
still had a lot more in store for us, we're not left empty
handed, his music will live on, even after we have reunited
Until then it will be all
our little stories, that will keep Chuck alive. Like the
chaotic grill party together with friends and an old cassette
player, blasting away on 'Evil Dead' and growling along
with 'Zombie Ritual' long enough to get half a dozen of
neighbours on our backs. Or the endless air-guitar solo's
in our rooms. The overwhelming feeling when Chuck stood
right in front of you on stage, and all the open mouths
of those that were not banging but were trying to follow
his fingers with their eyes. The maxims 'sound magician'
and 'philosopher' definitely apply for this extraordinary
human being. The more startling it is that Chuck already
gave us many answers to our questions and hopelessness.
To comprehensively unlock
Death, to understand the complete magic, without knowledge
of Chuck's brilliant lyrics, is almost impossible. The
time, to discover new things of Chuck and Death, has not
ended on December 13. Even the possession of all 8 studio
albums won't do it. To hear, feel and understand Death
we can only do by ourselves. The capability of Mr. Schuldiner
to let the same album, the same song, make us feel sad
one day, and give us infinite power the next, who's capable
of doing that? Death is magic, and the magic is Death.
Below we gathered some little things, recent and past
stuff, cheerful and sad stuff. We hope, despite our subjectiveness,
to speak on behalf of many of you. Our sympathies especially
go out to Chuck's mom Jane Schuldiner and all his family
members. Thank you Chuck, for all that you gave us. We
will never forget you.
Volkmar & the Legacy
II - By Jan Fischer
Chuck was a purposeful perfectionist. Not only shown through
his brilliant music, but above all through the symbiosis
of lyrics and music, and of course in the lyrics themselves.
At the beginning the lyrical outpouring was formed by themes
about death and horror (from which Satanic cliches from
the demo-days were eliminated before the first album release),
but the subjects changed and widened with every release.
Gore lyrics disappeared and were replaced by pondering and
often philosophical contemplations about all sorts of issues.
And another important element showed through in the lyrics,
Chuck was a very emotional human being. He reacted hard
at unjust criticism, especially at rumors about him and
the band after he cancelled several European tours (i.e.
the tour with Kreator in 1990, because of health problems
-his band members toured without him, took a roadie as 'vocalist'
and hung notes with every gig on which was to be read that
Chuck was a loser and would only be playing Hard Rock from
now on. At the gigs 'fuck Chuck' slogans were provided that
were taken more or less enthusiastic. The worst however
was, that the German metal press took part in it all and
reported very one sided. As a matter of course Chuck set
in his lawyer, and the fronts hardened even more. Years
later the Rock Hard still showed a picture of Chuck on their
subscription page (with a cynical quote underneath it) on
which he had an issue in his hands with a critical story
about him, holding up his middle finger.
The consequences of this
farce didn't take long. Chuck fired his band members and
for the next album hired high calibre substitutes. And
the effect it all had on this sensitive musician was greatly
to be read from then on up till the last album in his
lyrics. And of course in the liner notes on the albums.
For some of you the saying 'Support Music Not Rumors!'
certainly is legendary.
It comes as no surprise
that many old Death fans would rather fly to the USA to
hand over their gift to Chuck's family in person than
to participate in one of the fundraisings that are being
organized by the same press who treated him so bad back
then. Considering all, one has to think what the former
labels contributed to Chuck's recovery. There will always
be re-releases, and there will always be money for all
sorts of nonsense. However, when the artist who filled
their wallets needs something in return, they maintain
a stony silence.
statement from Götz Kühnemund - Rock Hard
The trouble with Chuck at the beginning of the '90's was
based on several cancelled European Death tours that we
(Rock Hard) presented. Because lots of fans started complaining
to us, we had to give out some kind of explanation (once
his band even toured without him-I'm sure you remember).
We were not able to induce Chuck to make a statement himself,
therefore we asked his former manager. He stated in an
open letter to Rock Hard that Chuck has a disturbed behaviour
and was being paranoid. Therefore he cancelled several
European tours, just being in a bad mood. This was confirmed
by his band at the time (Terry Butler, Bill Andrews &
co.) who came to Europe very aggravated. Because we published
the management statement, several statements from his
band and some comments of annoyed fans, Chuck threatened
us a few weeks later with his lawyer. As a response to
that we offered him to tell us his version in an exclusive
interview, which he accepted. Somewhat later I talked
with Chuck myself, because since the early Mantas-demo-days
we had a good relationship. We 'officially' reconciled
with each other and after that we interviewed Chuck several
times. So it's absolutely ridiculous when people try to
play nasty tricks on us still. After all, back then we
only tried to explain to our irritated readers why Chuck
quit or cancelled 4, (as presented by Rock Hard), Death
tours, without giving an explanation. Neither can nobody
accuse us of giving Chuck bad publicity, because despite
our temporary troubles, for which Chuck made his excuses
to me personally, his albums always got the best reviews
from us. Our current fundraiser almost gathered 6.000
Euro's. We are awaiting the profits of the 'In Death We
Trust'-benefit concert (organized by both Rock Hard and
Legacy) so hopefully we can transfer even more to Chuck's
III - Guido Heijnens
Guijdo Heijnens, labelboss of the Dutch Hammerheart Records
was one of the few Europeans who got a chance to meet Chuck
after the last European tour. To bring the record deal for
Control Denied to safety, Guido was in America at the end
of 2000 and had a chance to spend a few days with Chuck.
Below, an impression.
LEGACY: How long did you
stay in America? Was this your first encounter with Chuck?
GUIDO: Yes, it was in October 2000. We met at our US office
and spent 5 very memorable days together. It was the first
time I met Chuck personally and unfortunately the last.
L: How did you feel to
sit with a human being like Chuck?
G: I was totally excited when we went to pick him up at
the Boston airport. Chuck really was totally cool, very
relaxed, not arrogant at all. I felt very good that day,
we talked a lot about metal, it was great.
L: How did Chuck look?
Was he showing that he was severely ill?
G: No, not at all. Back then his prospects were very good,
he was almost better. He had physiotherapy to strengthen
his muscles. He was walking and talking normally, and
he could even play the guitar. He even had long hair,
which was very surprising to me. There still was some
of the tumor left in his head, but it was disappearing.
Until March 2001 this was the case, unfortunately things
changed after that.
L: What do you remember
G: Oh, actually everything was wonderful. We really had
some beautiful days. We mostly went shopping in CD stores,
had great diners and at night went to bars.
L: What kind of person was
Chuck, how did you get to know him? About what did you
G: He was very friendly and very calm. We talked almost
all the time about music, Chuck was a real music-freak.
I remember very well, sitting in a bar, both drunk and
screaming along with Judas Priests 'Painkiller'.
L: Was he funny, did he
have a sense of humor?
G: Absolutely. I mean, he did not just sit and tell old
jokes, he had a fine sense of humor.
L: So you did meet in Boston,
why not in Florida? Did you also meet the other guys of
G: Well our office is in Boston. Chuck was alone and brought
a tape with 4 brand new Control Denied songs, really unbelievable
stuff. The other guys unfortunately weren't there. At
the moment I'm in touch with Steve DiGiorgio.
L: What meant Chuck for
G: A musical genius and a true fan of the music he played.
L: What are you missing
G: The feeling, never to hear anything new from him again.
Hopefully we get to release the new Control Denied album,
but that will be the last what we will ever hear from
IV - Reviews
Scream Bloody Gore
Individual Though Patterns
The Sound Of Perseverance
The Fragile Art Of Existence
Bloody Gore (1987)
by Björn Thorsten
At the end of '87/beginning
of '88 it were mainly the underground magazines on this
side of the Atlantic (like the Danish Blackthorn, or Ronny
Eides (Norway) in the debut issue of Morbid Magazine),
that tried to put down in words their enthusiasm about
the dark output of two thin US guys. While Mr. Hand only
would go into the Death annals as a model, guitarist/singer
Chuck Schuldiner (out of necessity also playing the bass
on this album) under the watchful eye of producer Randy
Burns (back then the talk of town because of Dark Angel's
release 'Darkness Descends) was at least assisted by drummer
Chris Reifert (later on the founder of Autopsy). After
selecting 10 qualitatively equal classics from the stock
of 4 Death/Mantas demos, and the title track at the conclusion,
the collection was found worthy enough to be recorded
in the Music Grinder studio. On the re-release of this
CD two more demo's 'Beyond The Unholy Grave' and 'Land
Of No Return' as well as two Leprosy-tracks, live versions
from the Ultimate Revenge II soundtrack, are to be found.
The later by Atrocity covered 'Archangel' wasn't considered.
Although speed was one
aspect, they never wanted to be compared with the most
extreme representatives of the core-scene (hard- like
grind), but always put clear structured songs above all.
Blasting was taboo; fundamental fast songs were often
opened with catchy mid-tempo riffs, and even Reifert's
simple style allowed outstanding rhythm changes between
verse and chorus.
In the passing, also in
this stage of his career, Schuldiner's bizarre feel for
melody and his love for precisely puzzled out solo's showed
through. Not only Nile cashed in on the declared mystical
bombast intro of 'Zombie Ritual'.
by Björn Thorsten
While Scream Bloody Gore was guided by strong nostalgic
feelings, Leprosy was the first Death album on which Schuldiner's
unrestrained urge to develop on all sorts of levels showed
through, which in the future story of his band would cause
the sacrifice of many band members. Kam Lee, Chuck's former
partner and singer deserted to Massacre, while Rick Rozz
(guitar) returned for this one recording, and Bill Andrews
(drums) and bassplayer Terry Butler hung in one more round.
Although his thoughts are
dedicated to the physical illness, it shows through how
much the writer linguistically has developed, his ability
to imagine himself into something that's even being appreciated
by muscle-machine Mathiass Herr (German critic), the graphical
translation of the title (again thought out by E.J. Repka)
also satifies the gorehounds.
Out of the 8 new tracks
becomes clear how much Chuck's guitar playing has developed,
without, at this point, being able to use the label 'techinical'
death metal. The breaks are more complex, the frequency
rises and the melodic parts are being extended. Yet there's
no sign of giving up on brutality.
Dan Swanö underlines:
" Personally I take 'Leprosy" for the only real
perfect death metal album, which I place on the same level
as 'normal' music, because it opened dimensions. Cannibal
Corpse has really complex riffs, yet Death uses simple
structures, their riffs almost sound like a horror soundtrack."
by Volkmar Weber
Biting, supreme guitars, and a deep, and at the same time,
hammering snare drum were and are the first impressions
that hit you inevitable when the gates of the spiritual
sanatorium open for the first time.
'Living Monstrosity' represents
all the primitive and grown power that Death, anno 1990,
covers. What Chuck accomplishes here, destroys al lrivals.
Really killer, deadly singing meeting a rolling wall of
steel, chivalrously lead by his excellent personally,
and provided with the perfect cover on the side. Andrews
and Butler, who even managed to play on two Death albums
in a row, deliver a pumping, heavy rhythm. So bold, so
deep. Chuck and newbee James Murphy produce guitar-duels
in this melting pot, that are unequalled even today. Because
Death was, despite their real revolutionary ideas, like
before also 'easy listening', and didn't need 10 run-ups
(as on later releases) to really kill. Andrews certainly
was traditional behind his kitt, seldom using breaks,
no sign of fiddling. Not since this album has there been
such a heavy and powerfull rolling rhythm machine. One
thing remains clear, whenever there has to be drawn a
line with Death, from which moment the battleship would
weigh its anchor to explore new horizons, than it would
obviously be after Spiritual Healing. Not few inveterate
Death freaks refused consequently, even today, to acknowledge
albums from their favorites outside the deadly trio 'Scream
Bloody Gore', 'Leprosy' and this one. On this there are
only hits. Perfect tempo changes, catchy strophes and
choruses and above all the titlesong 'Spiritual Healing'.
Chuck sounds almost demonically swearing, possesed, passionate.
A real killer album. (VW)
by Volkmar Weber
Practically not one Death album has such a brutal start.
Flattening Of Emotions hammers, the double bass drum crack
in breathtaking speed, and the perfect synchronic rhythm
work bewilders you totally after just a short minute. Death
was back again. The album was being received back then (1991)
with astonishment, because there had been a lot of trouble
in the meantime. I remember the so called 'fuck Chuck' tour
with Kreator, the thwarting of the band members and the
stabbing by the metal press over the entire world. But Chuck
appeared to know it better again. He pulled out with a complete
new line-up (a so called trade mark of Death), to strike
back hard and wild. In Human's liner notes it says: "this
album's my revenge". And what kind of revenge it is!
He gathered real craftsmen around him. DiGiorgio (Sadus)
on bass, Reinert and Masvidal (both Cynic) on drums and
guitar respectively. They delivered a technical, decorated
album which, in combination with the most ripened sound
in the bands history, left a resounding effect. Especially
the thought out breaks of Reinert were a feast for the ears
and an omen of what was in store for journalists and musicians
when they would gather around the drum kitt of the young
savage during the next tour. The really insane framework
of Human, finds its contrast in the breathtaking opponent
of Chuck's melodic play. Chuck opens up, as far as you can
judge that on a melody. The melancholic, yes almost fragile
art, to play solo's like this, sends shivers down your spine.
The middle part takes care of not falling into dreams. 'Lack
Of Comprehension' is very heavy and real evil. 'Human' presents
Death for the last time from a truly deadly, yes even destructive
side. Also Chuck's vocal cords weren't spared any less than
on the three predecessors. Absolute zenith of the album
is the hymn like and at the same time enchanting 'Cosmic
Sea'. Once again it shows that Chuck was far ahead of his
time, because anno 1991 such progressive and at the same
time un-metal-like outbursts in death metal were an absolute
Thought Patterns (1993)
by Björn Thorsten
From the last line up Sadus' bass God Steve DiGiorgio remained,
together with ex-Dark Angel drummer Gene Hoglan forming
a genius rhythm section. The massive, today almost blind,
Hoglan wasn't trusted by anybody before with such filigree
abilities, that he provided proof of since 'Individual Thought
Patterns' with Death. Up till the unexpected end of Death
he would be the lasting constant. In retrospect this fifth
album can be seen as a turning point, because Chuck found
his musical paradise, and from now on followed the technical
progressive impulse started with 'Human' in all consequences;
the singing would stay the most striking link with the past.
Lyrically he left the describtion and analysis of great
common looks. Now he's occupied with the fate of mankind,
suffering from itself. He never makes his emphatic psychological
studies of characters and the raised questions in compositions
like the opener 'Overactive Imagination', 'Jealosy' or the
video track 'The Philosopher', stiff and lifeless.
In 1993 it was like before,
despite brilliant music from bands like Morbid Angel or
Atheist, the acceptation of death metal as a demanding
variation on the classical virtues mattered bad. The collaberation
of, unfortunatelly only one time participant, Andy LaRocque
(Kind Diamond's right hand outside of Mercyful Fate) as
a second lead guitarist at Chuck's side was also an important
sign for the whole scene.
by Volkmar Weber
What a start, what a title track. Indeed symbolic for the
album. Again significantly straight forward although not
less technical as its predecessor, Chuck presents himself
anno 1995 in absolute top form. Word went around that the
zombie rituals are in the past for good. How many fans actually
stayed with Chuck untill Symbolic is easy to read by the
sales figures - appalling little. The message that Chuck
would sell out, obviously left bigger voids than the new
recruits of the Dream Theater camp could have filled. Despite
the sales, technical aspects, that for that matter never
can be an indication for the musical brilliance (
chart-topping bands really that good?), Symbolic proves
to be a ride through the ups and downs of the human being.
Chuck obviously has engaged himself very much with the thoughts
of human beings (and specially his own), otherwise such
a philosophical theme work would have been unthinkable.
Here words deliver orgiastic duels with the melodies, that
render you fascinated to the lyrics sheet as well as the
headphones. With the aforementioned title track, 'Empty
Words', '1,000 Eyes' and 'Crystal Mountain' you find 4 imperishable
cracks on this album, that every Death fan, also those who
discovered them after 1990, will stand-by immediately.
But to classify Symbolic
solely by the top songs would not be just, because without
being a concept album, it's the sequence of the songs
that let Symbolic swell to a real, top-notch album. To
be heard clearly when played with the shuffle key on.
Sound Of Perseverance (1998)
by Volkmar Weber
The Sound Of Perseverance, my God, could there have been
a better title for this last Death album? Not less, including
myself, were surprised by the release of this disc. But
it did not end with that. Chuck's voice sounded high, in
some way strange, nevertheless indescribable intense. Every
Death fan, old and new, had to get used to it. But what
kind of fireworks did Chuck and co. set off here, withdraw
slow but sure from what all soundboards and words of this
world can describe.
Mr. Christy (Burning Inside,
Iced Earth) plays things on his kit, that appear to be
unimaginable as well as inimitable. In between, an intruding
bass playing counters melodies and decorates Chuck's excessively
complicated riffs and melodies. This is all pushed to
the limit. The sail are full in the wind and the pointers
at the ready.
Several songs are being
thought out into detail, provided with a lush decoration,
with a scream put dramatically into scene. Certainly,
a powerful piece of music wants to get heard, and without
a doubt very rewarding because of the unremitting surprises
that lie dormant in The Sound Of Perseverance. A record
for the headphone, for a daring fusion of Mr. Band and
Mrs. Olufsen. A 'Spirit Crusher', a 'Moment Of Clarity'
and of course a 'Painkiller'. The last in memory of the
surpreme Judas Priest, that made his respect in Metalistan
and was received delighted.
With the genius 'Voice
Of The Soul' it's hard to control emotions, especially
with Chuck's death in mind. Unfortunately it's sure that
this became the last legacy of Death. But it's a decisive
departure, perfect and spotless, although it's questionable
whether this is a right way to put it in this context.
I would be glad if I could tell you now that somebody
would continue Chuck's work.
It is totally inconceivable that Chuck won't present us
with a surprising successor. And there is, besides my
own pain for this loss, the actual tragedy. What did Chuck
take with him, about which we haven't got the slightest
Fragile Art Of Existence (1999)
by Volkmar Weber
Our little retrospective on Chuck's legacy would be incomplete
without this disc. Almost the complete line-up from the
last Death album appeared at the take off. Richard Christy
(drums), Shannon Hamm (guitar), and once again on bass Steve
DiGiorgio and of course Chuck. But he only concentrated
on the virtuoso caress of his guitar, his biting predator
singing stayed in the closet this time, because behind the
mic, the up till then rather unknown, Tim Aymar (of Psycho
Scream) gives away an impressive performance. Despite the
generally very difficult song structures, the album has
an aggressive sound. It is all but a power-metal album,
as was to be read here and there, and which lead to irritation
amongst the Death community. Aymar's voice is enchanting
and if you like Manowar's Eric Adams, you can safely risk
this album. The volume of the singers voice is not an insignificant
part of this records attraction, he moves playfully through
all regions, is able to sing very mean as well as very soft.
Chuck leaves his singer enough playroom to open out, because
the instrumental department not once settles for a driven
pounding rhythm, which would have sounded unequivocal as
Yet it is the difficult technical parts of Schuldiner, Christy,
Hamm and of course Steve DiGiorgio, that really make jaws
drop. You have to really hold on tight, because each and
every one of those guys is capable to blow away a complete
army on his own. Quite often the mood is almost hymnal,
best described with the feeling wanting to suck in this
record with the arms held high constantly.
I consider the disc as a clever build bridge of progressive
technical metal structures, presented with the heaviness
and boorishness of extreme metal. Sure, the road from death
metal to Dream Theater seems impossible, yet, with The Fragile
Art Of Existence as a guide it could work out. As long as
there's enough hunger to leave the flattened (and sometimes
cursed) roads. Unfortunately this record is sold out at
the moment, and therefore hard to find. Whenever you see
it somewhere, strike without hesitation.
Chuck's most important
work the last two years was arranging a successor for
this record. Like is to be read in a recent statement
of Steve DiGiorgio, Control Denied will try to record
this album without Chuck, because the compositions of
all songs is almost finished. So there's some hope left
that not all the ideas of Mr. Schuldiner get lost forever
with his departure.