December 13th, 2003 marked the
second anniversary of the unfortunate passing of Death Metal hero,
legend, and even fanboy, Chuck Schuldiner. Why was he left to
succumb to death, coincidentally the name of his primary band
his band that would ultimately define and be recognized as the
progenitor of the genre that still bears the name Death
Death, that dark mother who claims her sons where and when as
only she sees fit?
Was it because he could not get
insurance for pontine glioma, a pre-existing condition
which is a description of illness that otherwise dehumanizes people?
Was it because musical genius is plainly not to be ours for long
on this mortal coil? Evil Chuck, as he came to be known, lived
an altogether too brief life of 34 years and 7 months to the day.
Born on the 13th. Died on the
13th. The dichotomous description of 13 as an unlucky number but
also as a very Metal number need not be digressed into at this
point. It is, after all, just a number. But Chuck Schuldiner was
not merely just a man. He was a legend in music that went unheard
by far too many ears.
Reading interviews with Chuck,
you could not help but feel his personality reach out and grab
you. Listening to the mans records, you could not help but
hear his personality reach out and consume you. Seeing the man
in concert, you could not help but see his personality reach out
and possess you. He was that kind of man. His music was that kind
of music. His absence is that kind of absence.
Evil Chuck is sorely missed by
the Heavy Metal community, countless fans around the world, and
certainly by his family. The daunting task of completing Chucks
eternal wish to Let the Metal Flow -- his personal
catch phrase -- now lays on the shoulders of Jane Schuldiner,
his mother. Upon his passing, Chuck was midway through the recording
of the second and unfortunately final Control Denied album. The
rest of the musicians involved with the project are waiting in
a sort of limbo based on legal issues that no mother, much less
any music fan, wants to have to see. One of these days we can
hope to hear Chucks final notes. This writer and fan anxiously
waits for that day.
that stood beside me
I'm glad you understand
Behind these written words
I share the simple plan
To hang on to the way that we feel
[lyrics from Perennial Quest]
The legacy that Schuldiner left
behind is huge. He will always live on through his music, perhaps
ironically so for a man who named his band Death. If you have
never gotten into Death, why not do so now? I can remember the
first time I heard each Death album. It was an experience then
and remains so to this day. Symbolic and The Sound of Perseverance
are easily my favorites, but the musicianship of Schuldiner and
his rotating bandmates cannot be denied, particularly on 1991s
Human and those that followed. The instrumental Voice of
the Soul still brings tears to my eyes. It is magic.
Information about Deaths
members can be found in several places on the web, hence their
omission here, but suffice it to say that many influential Metal
madmen have spent time in Schuldiners camp and gone on to
leave their own impact on Heavy Metal. More than one tribute to
Evil Chuck is in the works, perhaps the most meaningful of these
featuring James Murphy, the lead guitar master that has played
not only with Death, but also with Cancer, Obituary, Testament,
Konkhra, and his own Disincarnate, among others. The significance?
James Murphy also has a rare form of cancer -- pituitary macro-adenoma
-- but is recovering after the removal of tumors from behind his
Another Chuck who battles cancer
to this day is the frontman of Testament himself, Chuck Billy.
In a move that made many a metalhead mindful, Billy gave half
of the proceeds obtained from the Thrash of the Titans
benefit, held on his behalf in August 2001, to the Schuldiner
Fund. Unfortunately it was too little, too late. Billy had this
to say at that time:
I'm in contact with Chuck
and his mom and I know how hard help is needed there. It's great
that all my Bay Area friends want to help me out, but Chuck Schuldiner
is doing far worse than me. I came out of my chemotherapy [for
germ cell seminoma] pretty undamaged
. Chuck, on the other
hand, is having a very hard time financially and on top of that
his health has gotten worse.
The end of an era was a new beginning.
Owing to the magnificent sound put forth by Chuck Schuldiner,
inspiration has once again spread throughout the Heavy Metal world.
In the past few years in particular, perhaps commencing with Chucks
death, Heavy Metal has made a virtual comeback. Yes, true Metal
never left, but bands that were once relegated solely to the underground
have received attention far greater than one might have ever imagined.
Out of death, a rebirth.
We move on in Chucks absence
but know that he watches over us, as the lyrics from Sacred
we go, whatever we do
Your shadow is not far behind our steps and our breath
Protecting and watching all...
[lyrics from "Sacred
So it is now, Chuck. We will do
our best to always Let the metal flow.