Through the words of Chuck Schuldiner,
we've reconstructed DEATH's recent past and attempted to understand
the causes of the numerous line-up changes and dissentions within this
legendary band. "Rick Rozz leaves Death!"... "James Murphy
joins Death"... "Murphy resoundingly abandons Schuldiner's
band!"... "Chuck's called out of Death, but demands the right
to the name!". During the last two years we've quickly updated
you on the ups and downs of Death. Just when we were losing hope, Chuck
summoned some trusted friends and realized "Human", one of
the best death metal albums recently released.For the fan who bought
the record without taking note of the band's recent turmoil, one of
the most obvious differences is the radical change in line-up. We'll
present a simple list of facts before featuring the words of Chuck Schuldiner,
a real leader and one of the most controversial figures in the metal
world. We've reached him during Death's recent American tour with Pestilence
and Viogression, which brought joy to thousands of moshers and slamdancers.
In comparison to the incarnation
of "Scream Bloody Gore", the first LP, released in 1987, with
"Leprosy"(88) the trio became quartet, adding a second guitarist,
Rick Rozz. Two other new members: drummer Bill Andrews and the bassist
Terry Butler, both from Massacre (as the same Rozz), joined Death to
replace drummer Chris Reifert and rhythm guitarist John Hand.On 1990's
Spritual Healing, Rick Rozz left in turn to witness the addition of
James Murphy, one of the more highly regarded axe heroes, who established
himself with Agent Steel and Hallow's Eve. We'll hear the rest from
the King himself, Chuck Schuldiner.
"We were rather satisfied with Spiritual Healing. With James there
were no problems even though someone had warned me of his rather unpredictable
character... In April of 1990, when we were preparing for the European
tour, James announced he'd left the band effective immediately. There
had been some conflicts on personal level with me, but I didn't think
he would have arrived to such a drastic solution... We were totally
caught off guard and we decided to postpone the tour because we didn't
want to go to Europe without another guitarist."
At that point an unexplanable event took place; the rest of the band
recruited ex-Devastation drummer, Louie Carrisalez, as vocalist, and
went to Europe as support of Kreator. Chuck surprisingly remains in
Florida, undertaking legal proceedures to get recognition for the rights
to the band's name.
"There were very heated discussions during that period. Bill and
Terry had kept in touch with Rick Rozz and they plotted against me.
They wanted to steal Death, and exploit the name at my expense... With
Rick there had not been an amicable separation, there were grudges and
misunderstandings. When Terry came me to say they had intentions to
go to Europe, I told him: 'not on your life!'. He responded loud and
clear that there had been a discussion and I was expelled from Death...
I was very angry for two days, I couldn't believe that the people I
had trusted could take advantage of this situation. I did know that
the law was on my side, and I started consultation with a lawyer.
It was not difficult for Chuck to
recover the name, while Butler and Andrews, upon return from Europe,
gathered with Rick Rozz and Kam Lee to reform Massacre. Rozz was working
there already from a few months, and in the meantime he had recruited
bassist Butch Gonzales and ex-Whiplash drummer Joe Cangelos. Chuck
was looking for new musicians, but due to the fact that he's undoubtedly
the demanding type, at the end of long months of auditions, Schuldiner
decided to recruit his great friend Steve Digiorgio, from Sadus, Cynic's
Sean Reinhart (drums) and Paul Masvidal (guitar).
"Steve and I practically grew up together. I consider Sadus one
of the absolute best bands. "Swallowed In Black" is my favourite
record... However I would not pretend he left his band in any way. Our
new bassist is Scott Carino and I believe he'll stay with us. Regarding
Sean and Paul, I don't know really what tell you, I sincerely hope they
stay in Death. However it seems Tony Choi has definitely joined Pestilence
and therefore, Cynic could decide to separate."
Chuck is working laboriously after
a dark period during which he suddenly found himself alone. The events
previously described had him disenchanted and demotivated. It is here
that the strong and vigorous character of Chuck Schuldiner had emerged,
his wish to return as soon as possible with an album, the desire to
show once more that he is Death. It's not a game of words... Stubbornness
and perseverance are surely elements required of protagonists under
these circumstance, even if the consistent accusations of tyranny and
despotism are not entirely unfounded.
"No, it's not a case that the line up of Death has perpetually
been unstable. It's not the case that it depends on the mentality I
have about the way I wanted to manage the band. I have made many mistakes
in my life and in my career, to deny it would be hypocritical, but my
decisions, more specifically, regarding my various decisions to part
company from unfit companions, were not mistakes. I've made the mistake
of being conceited on some occasions, I've mistakenly trusted other
people without knowing them well. Here they are, my mistakes. Can you
blame me? I don't think so. During the years I've come to understand
so many things. Later particularly during Spiritual Healing, I realized
Death had become a tool in the hands of different individuals, rather
than an ideal for which to believe and fight. Chuck
Schuldiner is only a human being as is Rick Rozz or James Murphy. My
conscience is founded in the fundamental and indisputable teachings
of the human existence. All the human beings think, they act, they are
suited to the error: it's a natural fact. But even more natural is the
fact that they live and therefore they die. That's why I've wanted to
entitle the LP " Human ", after all it's the same concept
that is concealed behind the name Death: there's not death if not for
a living entity..."
No, he's not a metaphysics luminary and not even a preaching madman,
but Chuck has often been targeted by Tipper Gore and by the PMRC. On
January 1st. 1991 the body of 29 year-old Gary Andrew Burgess was found
near Seattle, beaten to death. In his jacket pocket was a copy of Leprosy
by Death, and this instigated the PMRC.
"They have always harshly criticized my lyrics. I've been accused
of being blasphemous and demonic, perhaps because 'Crazy' Tipper has
never bother to attently read my lyrics. I don't deny anything in my
past, I am proud of my songs and of my lyrics. I'd be ready to challenge
whoever, lyrics in hand, giving every last detail to show the meaning
of every single verse."
On the other hand Chuck has fought other battles and he would not
be frightened to spearhead a possible battle with the censors. The tour
with Pestilence has seen a pleasant surprise, in different shows, Viogression,
and Cynic, have climbed on stage, therefore Sean Reinhart and Paul Masvidal
of Chuck's band and Tony Choi of the Dutch quartet. Can you guess who
sang? Really him: Chuck Schuldiner!!! Rather, Chuck the despot...