Comments by Perry M. Grayson
Clendenin~Richard Christy~Shannon Hamm
Sound Of Perseverance - 1998
A powerhouse of
previously "unknown" musicians. Previous lineups gave
these guys a lot to live up to. It isn't easy to fill the shoes
of Gene Hoglan, Steve DiGiorgio, James Murphy, Paul Masvidal,
or Andy LaRocque. This album put Richard Christy on the map
as one of metal's finest and busiest drummers, opening up doors
for him to play in many other outfits like Iced Earth and Incantation.
Long years of labor in the Houston, Texas scene paid of for
lead guitarist Shannon Hamm when he joined forces with Chuck,
likewise. All bassist Scott Clendenin brought with him a distinctive
pick-playing style-and his love for progressive rock added lots
of variety to the Death sound.
The lineup that
crafted what many consider to be Death's finest and most well-rounded
album. As far as personalities working well together, there
was less trouble here than in previous lineups. This time only
Kelly Conlon didn't fit the Death mold. Despite the fact that
Steve DiGiorgio was unavailable for SYMBOLIC and the tour to
follow, the album and tour was a crushing force to be reckoned
with. As on INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS, Gene Hoglan battered
the drums crazily. Guitarist Bobby Koelble, an old high school
acquaintance of Chuck's, threw some very capable jazz-fusion
influenced soloing into the mix.
Hoglan~Bobby Koelble~Kelly Conlon
Ralph Santolla~Gene Hoglan~Chuck
Thought Patterns - 1993
A killer team to pump out some
of the most complex Death riffing ever. Gene Hoglan put aside
some old bad vibes that existed between Death and his old band,
Dark Angel-and he delivered a drumming performance that not
only stood up to Sean Reinert's, but excelled in its own right.
Steve DiGiorgio's fretless bass work fit INDIVIDUAL like a glove,
and unlike on HUMAN they were very audible. King Diamond guitarist
Andy LaRocque's fiery leadwork (how about that buttery guitar
tone?) was a hard act to follow. Unable to tour with Death,
Andy's shoes were more than adequately filled by Eyewitness
& Millennium shredder Ralph Santolla on the INDIVIDUAL tour
of the States.
Just the band to push
Death's already technical sound over the edge to the new evolutionary
level Chuck envisioned. Cynic members Masvidal and Reinert both
had killer metal chops that were empowered by their love for jazz-fusion.
James Murphy was the first truly skilled Death second guitarist,
and Paul Masvidal was more than capable of solos with melody,
speed, and taste. Sean Reinert's drumming set a new standard for
all Death drummers to follow. Skott Carino filled Steve DiGiorgio's
shoes on the road, as Steve had prior commitments to his band
Sadus. The guitars on the album drowned out most of the bass,
and this was also the case on stage...But both bass-men are hailed
by most Death fans as their favorites.
Carino~Chuck Schuldiner~Paul Masvidal
Andrews~Chuck Schuldiner~James Murphy
Healing - 1990
This volatile lineup crafted
the pivotal Death album that saw the introduction of clean production,
tons of catchy melody, and more technical riffing and complex
arrangements. Though James Murphy wouldn't last long in Death,
his fluid axe-slinging on SPIRITUAL opened many doors for him
when he went on to record with Obituary, Cancer & Testament.
But Murphy wasn't the only one firing off ripping guitar solos.
Chuck's long struggle culminated on SPIRITUAL, and his lead
guitar ability had matured immeasurably from the days of SCREAM
BLOODY GORE and the demos before.
Though Terry Butler
& Bill Andrews would stick with Chuck for two albums, Rick
Rozz already had a strained relationship with Chuck from the
Mantas demo days. Rick and Chuck patched things up long enough
to cut LEPROSY and do a small amount of touring afterward, but
this was definitely another volatile Death lineup. Where Chris
Reifert was more of a thrash drummer, Bill Andrews' grooves
were built on his love for early '80s metal bands like Anvil.
Chuck's hyper speed solo style was evolving. Despite Rick Rozz's
whammy bar fest, the album is still considered a classic, containing
old school Death fans' perennial fave song "Pull the Plug".
In the bass department, Terry seems to have followed Chuck's
own formula from SCREAM BLOODY GORE.
Rozz~Bill Andrews~Chuck Schuldiner
Chuck Schuldiner~Chris Reifert
Gore - 1987
A two man Death machine! Chuck
was about 19 and Chris was just 17 when they joined forces to
blast out the MUTILATION demo, followed by SCREAM BLOODY GORE.
Chuck tackled all the vocals, guitars, and bass-not one to let
the lack of a permanent bassist hold his musical vision back!
Little did they know that this would be the start of a band
that would attain a huge following all over the world and release
7 studio albums. Death was Chris' door to forming his very own
band, Autopsy. Chuck and Chris brought gore riddled song titles
and lyrics together with fierce and fast metal axe grinding
and drumming. In retrospect, it's rather amazing to note that
just these two young men alone were able to cut such a heavy
album. The SBG sound was quite brutal (although there was plenty
of melody and a fair share of slower "doomy" grooves),
but Death would only improve with age.