DEATH appeared in its first
form at the end of 1983 in Orlando, Florida under the name of MANTAS.
The musicians were Charlie “Evil Chuck" Schuldiner (guitar
/ vocals), Barney "Kam" Lee (drums / vocals) and Frederick "Rick
Rozz" DeLillo (guitar). They recorded a first non-official demo /
rehearsal tape at the beginning of 1984 with the help of a session bass
player whose name still remains unknown (this was the only bass player
MANTAS / DEATH used until June 1985). This recording, called "Emotional",
contained the first versions of ‘Legion Of Doom’, ‘Evil
Dead’ and ‘Mantas’. From this moment onwards it was
quite clear to the worldwide intense metal fans that this band could be
associated with the only other death metal bands of the period, which
were VENOM, SLAYER, POISON, HELLHAMMER / CELTIC FROST, BATHORY, SODOM,
POSSESSED and MASTER.
In the middle of 1984 another demo / rehearsal tape, made up of four titles,
was recorded called "Death By Metal" and contained gems of brutality
(while still keeping a melodic touch) like ‘Legion Of Doom’,
‘Power Of Darkness’, ‘Death By Metal’ and ‘Evil
Dead’. The band even managed to play a show on August 1, 1984 in
Tampa, Florida, a quite extraordinary feat as the local scene was far
from as flourishing as it would be at the end of the 80's / early 90's
(the only real heavy bands existing in that area at the time were NASTY
SAVAGE, AVATAR (pre-SAVATAGE), SIREN, MORBID ANGEL and a few other small
outfits). In their set, MANTAS covered SLAYER’s ‘Black Magic’
and VENOM’s ‘Poison’, these two bands being the principal
influences of the band at the time. Chuck eventually decided to split
up the band because of lack of support from the local metal scene and
because of internal problems in the band.
A few weeks later Chuck decided to put another band together, this one
quite simply called DEATH. Eventually Chuck, Rozz and Lee were reconciled
and they started to write new songs which would appear on the demo tape
”Reign Of Terror", recorded in October 1984, but which was
not completely mixed due to lack of money. Despite this setback, the six
tracker (‘Corpse Grinder’, ‘Summoned To Die’,
‘Zombie’, ‘Witch Of Hell’, ‘Reign Of Terror’
and ‘Slaughterhouse’) circulated around the world, thanx to
the underground tape trading network, and DEATH appeared as one of the
most extreme, talented and brutal bands of the metal scene (this recording
also exists as a bootleg single under the name of "Reign Of Terror
– Demo II”).
After this, DEATH played two shows at the Ruby's Pub in Brandon, Florida,
the first on November 9, 1984 (exists as a bootleg vinyl under the name
of "The Face Of Truth”), and the second supporting NASTY SAVAGE
on December 30, 1984. This, particular show was recorded by the editors
of the fanzine “Guillotine” and was made available to the
public in the form of a cassette called "DEATH live". This show
permitted many tape traders of the time to discover new numbers which
were even more brutal and intense than their predecessors such as ‘Infernal
Death’, ‘Curse Of The Priest’ and the godly ‘Archangel’
(which was covered years later by Germany's ATROCITY). DEATH's repertoire
was more powerful and faster than ever with Kam and Chuck sharing the
vocals! Overall the music lived up to the name of DEATH!
On March 9, 1985, DEATH recorded a new demo (in a real studio this time),
better known under the name of “Infernal Death”, containing
this tune plus ‘Baptized In Blood’ and ‘Archangel’
(this demo also came out as a bootleg single under the name of "Death
Was Good For You"). This was to be the last recording with this line-up
as a new fissure was appearing in the band. There are a few songs from
this period that never appeared on the demos or the demo / rehearsals,
such as ‘Rise Of Satan’, ‘Demon's Flight’, ‘Rigor
Mortis’ or the extraordinary ‘Seizure’ which remains
as one of the best pieces Chuck composed throughout his career along with
the song ‘Archangel’. With this line-up DEATH should have
played several dates on the East Coast, such as at the Showplace in Dover,
NJ on April 5, 1985 with the likes of AGNOSTIC FRONT, NYC MAYHEM, MENTAL
ABUSE and SEIZURE, but due to lack of money these dates were never played.
In the middle of 1985 Chuck got in touch with Scott Carlson, GENOCIDE's
bass player / singer (a death metal band from Flint, Michigan, later known
as REPULSION), who had sent Chuck a tape of himself playing. Chuck was
immediately enthusiastic and asked him to join DEATH. Carlson moved to
Orlando, where Chuck was based, to replace Rozz, and brought GENOCIDE’s
guitarist Matt Olivo with him. Both joined Chuck and Kam for two months
until Lee finally left the band. As they could not find a new drummer,
Matt and Scott went back to Michigan to reform GENOCIDE, leaving Chuck
to his fate. As for Kam and Rick, the latter joined Lee in MASSACRE during
the beginning of 1986, a band originally created by drummer Billy Andrews
and guitarist Alan West in September 1985. Lee replaced original rhythm
guitarist / singer J.P. Chartier (who joined XECUTIONER right after) and
Rozz replacing Alan West who also joined XECUTIONER (pre - OBITUARY).
In September 1985 Chuck moved to San Francisco and got joined by Eric
Brecht (previously seen in D.R.I.), and a bassist whose name also remains
unknown (but it looks like his first name was also Eric, according to
Terence Kelsey from "Black Dethe”), with the intention of making
of DEATH the fastest band in the world)! The trio wrote some new songs,
which were completely devoted to speed and in October 1985 a demo / rehearsal
was recorded called “Back From The Dead" (this also exists
as a bootleg vinyl called "Early Demos” and as a bootleg CD
called "Infernal Death"). New numbers such as ‘Reign Of
Death’, ‘Skill To Kill’ or older ones such as ‘Legion
Of Doom’ and ‘Beyond The Unholy Grave’ were on this
recording and it quite obvious that the style was very different from
old DEATH as they sounded very Hardcore like due to the extraordinary
amount of speed which was injected into the old and the new titles (remember
how fast the first D.R.I. album was?!), even the vocals were different,
much drier and more ear piercing.
From October to December 1985 they managed to play a couple of shows in
the Bay Area, in legendary places, such as "The Farm" or "Ruthies
Inn", supported by local bands, such as DESECRATION, SACRILEGE. BLACK
DETHE, and the mighty INSANITY! But Chuck was quick to realize that this
new musical direction did not suit him (but it’s still interesting
to note that this period had a big influence on George "Trey Azagthoth"
Emmanuel from MORBID ANGEL though). The band split up again, Chuck returning
to Florida in the middle of December 1985 (Eric Brecht joining HIRAX to
replace John Tabares). At this period, Chuck was contacted by the death
metal gang from Toronto, Canada called SLAUGHTER who were on the verge
to enter the studio to record their first album "Strappado".
Chuck joined them in the middle of January 1986. The new line-up of SLAUGHTER
was Dave Hewson (vocals / guitar), Chuck Schuldiner (vocals / guitar),
Terry Sadler (vocals / bass) and Ron Summers (drums). They started to
rehearse intensively for the recordings of “Strappado” which
was to be held in February 1986. Not only they practiced SLAUGHTER songs
but also some DEATH numbers, because the album should have originally
contained ‘Evil Dead’ and ‘Legion Of Doom’ (in
the beginning they were going to record ‘Baptized In Blood’
and ‘Infernal Death’). But everything ended in failure as
Chuck left SLAUGHTER at the beginning of February 1986 on very bad terms,
He returned to Florida once again to refine his new vision of DEATH’s
A few weeks later he left for San Francisco again where he met a drummer
called Chris Reifert and they wrote new titles, such as 'Land Of No Return',
'Torn To Pieces' etc. On April 12 & 13, 1986 the duo recorded a three
track demo called "Mutilation" in a studio, containing 'Land
Of No Return', 'Zombie Ritual' and the title track. This demo was by far
DEATH's best recording effort at this point, but the musical style was
quite different from the older songs, more complex and longer, but maybe
also less captivating. This demo had a big underground success and New
York's Combat Records offered DEATH a five-album contract.
As they did not have anywhere to live in California, Chuck and Chris returned
to Orlando, Florida to record their first album in July / August 1986
with Randy Burns (POSSESSED, NUCLEAR ASSAULT…) at the desk. The
basic tracks of "Scream Bloody Gore" were recorded (rhythm guitar
/ drums) but as the results weren't very impressive, the duo went to the
Music Grinder Studios in Hollywood, California with Burns to re-record
the whole album. This was done in a few days and the pair left for San
Francisco, leaving Burns to mix the album. They met a guitarist called
John Hand there and invited him to join DEATH, but in fact Hand never
recorded anything with DEATH, because he left the band in the middle of
1987. His photo appeared on the cover of the first album, although he
had never actually done anything for it, and he was thrown out of the
band because of his incapability to play the newer material. "Scream
Bloody Gore" was released in May 1987 and was incredibly well received
by both the fans and the press in the underground scene.
At this point Chuck decided to go back to Florida as he realized that
the scene in California was dying and that he would never really be able
to set up his band properly there. He invited Reifert to join him, but
being from San Francisco, Reifert did not want to, so Chuck was left on
his own again (a few months later Reifert formed AUTOPSY with Eric Cutler
and Eric Eigard, joined later by Danny Corrales, ex-BLOODBATH). For the
record, in the period from March 1986 to May 1987, DEATH did not play
one single live show, as they could never find a bassist.
Back in Florida, Chuck contacted MASSACRE and took on Rick Rozz (guitar),
Terry Butler (bass) and Billy Andrews (drums) to complete DEATH's new
line-up, leaving Kam Lee out (Lee was later seen in a new band called
ABHORENT EXISTENCE at the end of the 80’s. He then met up with his
ex-colleague Rozz again around September 1990 for the first reformation
of MASSACRE, completed by Joey Cangelosi, ex-WHIPLASH, and Butch Gonzales,
ex-GENITORTURERS). With this line-up DEATH gave their first real show
at the first Milwaukee Metalfest on July 24, 1987 along with bands such
as HALLOWS EVE, AT WAR, SACRIFICE, TROUBLE and KING DIAMOND.
After several local shows from August to October 1987, DEATH began a successful
club tour in the Midwest, introducing new songs to the public such as
‘Pull The Plug’ and ‘Left To Die’. At that point
they also stopped playing songs that had made DEATH a cult band in the
underground scene, such as ‘Legion Of Doom’, ‘Baptized
In Blood’ or ‘Evil Dead’ (but it's interesting to point
out that they still had to play ‘Evil Dead’ during their first
European tour due to fan pressure). They continued to compose songs for
the next album until the end of 1987.
At the beginning of 1988, a new Midwest / East Coast tour began, highlighted
by the show at the Animal Hall in Brooklyn, NY on January 30, 1988, where
DEATH played as headliners alongside AT WAR, HAVE MERCY and WHIPLASH.
In April 1988 DEATH was back recording again, but this time at the Morrisound
Studios, Tampa, Florida, with producer Dan Johnson (WHIPLASH, SAVATAGE…)
and with the help of Scott Burns (who was still practically unknown at
the time), to record "Leprosy". This album was a little more
accessible than "Scream Bloody Gore" with melodic passages that
would become more and more important in the albums to come. Unsurprisingly
this album, as well as the older stuff, became an enormous influence onto
new bands, such as ENTOMBED, MORGOTH, DISMEMBER, ASPHYX and the new death
metal wave as a whole.
On October 23, 1988 DEATH was part of “Ultimate Revenge II”
(“Ultimate Revenge I” had been held at the Studio 54, NYC,
NY on April 3, 1985 with SLAYER, EXODUS and VENOM), which was held at
the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia, PA with FORBIDDEN, FAITH OR FEAR,
DARK ANGEL and RAVEN (a video, LP and CD of the festival were issued by
Combat Records). The band received a warm welcome despite the fact that
their show was very disappointing (in fact their shows continued to be
disappointing for a very long time due to a lack of intensity and a working
man like delivery of the songs).
Two months later the band started another tour around the East Coast and
in the Midwest, which lasted the whole month of December. The once mighty
ANVIL opened a few shows for them (ANVIL was one of DEATH's favourite
bands for the record).
By February 23, 1989 DEATH arrived in Europe at last, for a European tour
that should have lasted at least a month with DESPAIR as guests. The band
played the first shows in Belgium, France and Holland (a bootleg vinyl
called "Horst 1-3-89" exists), but they went back to the USA
at the beginning of March because of problems with the tour organizers,
so the German fans did not get to see them. After this "tour"
DEATH separated from Eric Greif, their manager (Greif was known for having
produced some bands such a.o. Texas TYRUS in the past and managing some
small death metal acts from Milwaukee).
At the end of March 1989 DEATH began a US tour called the “Ultimate
Revenge” Tour, with DARK ANGEL as co-headliners - both bands being
on Combat Records. Unfortunately, what started off as a major tour for
thrash / death metal ended up after just a few weeks as a nightmare for
the two acts. The principal incident happened at Jannus Landing in St
Petersburg, Florida, on May 6, 1989, when DARK ANGEL's merchandiser hit
Andrews in the face, which led DEATH leaving the tour and DARK ANGEL finishing
it without them.
Shortly afterwards Rick Rozz was fired from the band because of his incompetence
to progress and to play the new songs (Rozz then recorded a solo single
before joining his old colleague Kam Lee in the revamped MASSACRE in September
1990). DEATH were on the verge to play several shows in Mexico in the
middle of June 1989, so they took on Paul Masvidal as a temporary replacement
(Masvidal was the guitarist of CYNIC, a band from Miami, Florida formed
by Masvidal and Reinert, two ex-SEAWEED members).
When they came back from Mexico they realised that Masvidal could not
stay in DEATH as CYNIC was his main priority, so the trio recruited a
guitarist named Mark Carter who only stayed for a few weeks because of
his musical incompatibility with the rest of the band. Immediately afterwards
Chuck contacted a guitarist called James Murphy, who he had known for
quite awhile (Murphy had played in the past with HALLOWS EVE for a very
brief period and then with AGENT STEEL on their European tour in May /
June 1987). Murphy integrated DEATH although his composition style was
undoubtedly different from Chuck's, and the band continued to write new
songs for the third album.
The album was recorded during the autumn of 1989, with Burns at Morrisound
Studios and was titled "Spiritual Healing". The addition of
Murphy to the band definitely brought an extra melodic touch to their
sound as it can be perfectly heard in songs such as ‘Lowlife’
(check out the amazing lead parts) or others. He also brought a more technical
nature to the band, despite Andrews performance which was once again,
nothing but WEAK. It should be pointed out to the fans that Chuck used
some very old riffs on this album, like the one that starts ‘Back
From The Living Dead’ on ‘Living Monstrosity’, or several
from ‘Legion Of Doom’ used in the song ‘Spiritual Healing’.
The band played at the Milwaukee Metal Fest III on December 2, 1989 with
again, a performance that lacked life.
Then, at the end of February 1990, began the "Spiritual Healing"
US tour with DEVASTATION as guests. This time the tour covered the whole
American territory but at the end of the tour new problems arose, this
time concerning Murphy who was quite simply fired (Murphy then went on
to join OBITUARY in June 1990 just in time to play the lead parts on their
album "Cause Of Death", did two American tours with them and
then joined CANCER). DEATH then took on Paul Masvidal again so they could
complete the last dates of the tour in Florida in the middle of April
Right after that, the band planned to do a European tour during May 1990
with Masvidal as a substitute guitarist, but the tour was cancelled because
Music For Nations, their European label, would not agree with the tour
conditions. The band needed to search yet again for a new guitarist which
they found in Albert Gonzales, an ex-EVIL DEAD member, who joined them
on the new US tour that started in Miami Beach on August 17, 1990 with
CARCASS as guests (they were later joined by PESTILENCE). The tour led
them to the Country Club in Reseda, California on October 5, 1990 which
was the last date Gonzales did with the band (Gonzales was later seen
in RISE) and DEATH played the last few shows as a trio.
The European tour was only two weeks away and Chuck decided to cancel
it for personal reasons. Andrews and Butler decided to do it no matter
what, they took on Walter Trachsler (soundman on the preceding US DEATH
tour and ex-Texas ROTTING CORPSE member) as guitarist and Louie Carrisalez
(ex-ROTTING CORPSE, DEVASTATION) as vocalist and played under the name
of DEATH for the long European tour where they supported KREATOR. The
members of the line-up even went as far as calling this band A.B.C.T.
Project, see why?! This tour lasted until December 1990 and was neither
a fiasco nor a success for this "band" (check out the bootleg
vinyl "The Final Gigs"). The worst rumours about Chuck's mental
health went around during this tour, but at the time Schuldiner was preparing
his counter-attack to reboost DEATH's name once again (Andrews and Butler
joined Rozz and Lee who had contacted them during the European tour to
prepare the real comeback of MASSACRE as the previous reformation of MASSACRE
from September 1990 did not live up to everyone's expectations).
Chuck started to write new material in the beginning of 1991, then contacted
Masvidal and his colleague drummer from CYNIC, Sean Reinert. This was
followed by intense rehearsals and SADUS bassist, Steve DiGiorgio, (Chuck
had known him since his second trip to San Francisco in March 1986) joined
the trio. The quartet was ready to record a new album at the Morrisound
Studios in April 1991 with Scott Burns again. The album was to be called
"Human" and lyrically centred around the ordeals Chuck had had
to deal with at the end of 1990. The contribution of these three musicians
to the band revolutionised the musical universe of DEATH, mostly thanks
to DiGiorgio and Reinert's technicality. But the new dynamical gust blown
into DEATH's sound took on a whole new dimension during the tours that
were to follow. DEATH produced a video clip for first time called 'Lack
Of Comprchension', which was broadcasted many times on MTV. During the
"Human" recording sessions, they recorded a cover of 'God Of
Thunder' by KISS for a compilation album on Roadrunner Records (their
new label in Europe) and it also appeared on the Japanese pressing of
In October / early November 1991 the band rehearsed once again for the
upcoming tours but this time without DiGiorgio who had gone back to SADUS,
Scott Carino, an ex-FESTER member, replaced him. The US tour started in
Tampa on November 9, 1991 with PESTILENCE and VIOGRESSION as guests. At
the same time Chuck and Eric Greif (Chuck's former manager and VIOGRESSION
manager) were reconciled. The tour was interrupted at the beginning of
December as DEATH was to take part in the Rock Hard Christmas festivals
that were to take place in Europe from December 18 to 23 (along with NAPALM
DEATH, PESTILENCE, CANNIBAL CORPSE and DISMEMBER as support), those shows
were supposed to announce the big return of DEATH (a bootleg CD of one
of these festivals titled "Baptized In Blood - Live 19/12/91"
At the beginning of January 1992 DEATH finished their American tour on
the West Coast and then crossed the Atlantic for their European tour (PESTILENCE
were supposed to support DEATH but they weren't included on the bill at
the end as the friendship between the two bands came to an end in December
1991). The tour started at Mc Gonagles in Dublin on February) and took
them almost all over Europe. For the first time it seemed that a European
DEATH tour was going to go from start to finish, but this did not happen
because in the beginning of March several shows were cancelled at the
last minute in Germany. The other dates that were also scheduled in England,
France and other countries were cancelled when Chuck realised that Eric
Greif, the tour manager, had managed to build up a debt of $14.000 to
the transport company. So once again, the tour was cut short. The musicians
had to go back to the USA and wait until the debt was paid off to get
their equipment back. In fact they had to wait five months to get it back
and Chuck took legal proceedings against Eric Greif.
At this point (mid '92) Chuck started to write some new stuff and decided
not to work with Carino, Masdival and Reinert again for unknown reasons
(Masdival and Reinert started to work on CYNIC's first album, "Focus"
after several bass player changes Carino was later seen with LOWBROW).
To the general surprise, Chuck got in touch with Gene Hoglan ex-DARK ANGEL
drummer (DARK ANGEL had split up a little time beforehand). The two men
seemed to bave settled the differences there had been between them during
the '89 Ultimate Revenge Tour (trivia fans will be interested to know
that at the same time Gene had been contacted to work on MASSACRE's second
album, as Butler and Andrews had left MASSACRE by mid 1992, but in the
end nothing happened with him).
This time Chuck also wanted to work with a new guitarist, if possible
someone he admired, and he chose to get in touch with Andy LaRocque (ex-SWEDISH
EROTICA, KING DIAMOND). Chuck and Gene jammed together on the tunes that
Chuck had written, and once again DiGiorgio joined them for the recording.
As for LaRocque, he put his leads on different tracks on the album. "Individual
Thought Patterns" was produced by Burns and recorded at Morrisound
Before the album was released DEATH was invited to join the European "Full
Of Hate" festivals that took place in April 1993, with Steve DiGiorgio,
and with Ralph Santolla (EYEWITNESS) as second guitarist to complete the
line-up. The album was released two months later and was to be the last
on Combat / Relativity. Thanks to LaRoque's verve and Hoglan's incredible
drumming, the album was a real success, one of the rare albums that mixed
catchiness, melody and brutality so perfectly! A video clip was made from
this album with 'The Philosopher', a song that became one of the crowds
fave along with 'Pull The Plug'. The US tour for the release of the album
took place in July 1993, with GOREFEST and SACRIFICE as support with the
same line-up as for the "Full Of Hate" festivals. For the first
time since DEATH started touring regularly (around Autumn of 1987), the
shows did not sound like chainwork in a factory, and a new vigour was
brought into the material in comparison to the studio versions. But this
was nothing in comparison with the European shows that were to come.
DEATH were preparing to return to Europe after the past disasters, and
as Santolla could not go with them (he had to work on EYEWITNESS's first
album), Chuck got in touch with Craig Lucicero (FORBIDDEN), whom he knew
since the "Ultimate Revenge II" show). He accepted to join them
as FORBIDDEN was in a quiet period. The European tour started in Bradford,
UK with ANACRUSIS as guests on September 28, 1993. It started with a big
surprise because DEATH did a cover of 'Black Magic' that night, something
that had not happened since 1983 (if we don't count the KISS cover that
they executed at a few shows in March 1992)! This tour was a great success
and a sign for Chuck that DEATH's public was still there and behind him.
During this tour Chuck dedicated several shows to bands that had given
him hours of listening pleasure. For example, he dedicated the British
shows to BITCHES SIN, WITCHFINDER GENERAL..., the French show to SORTILEGE,
H-BOMB, BLASPHEME..., the Belgium show to ACID (and we can imagine that
in Spain he dedicated shows to BARON ROJO, OBUS, PANZER... etc). For the
first time this tour happened without any falls from the beginning to
the end, and stayed for many the best DEATH tour ever, with an incredible
line-up (because even if Locicero didn't retranscribe LaRocque's solos
like Santolla did, his stage presence was intense as hell just like with
FORBIDDEN). The audience at these shows will never forget the madness
and the feeling that swept through them (once they returned to the USA
Locicero went back to FORBIDDEN who recorded their third album "Distortion"
- thanks to the contract that Craig was able to sign in Europe with G.U.N.
In the beginning of 1994, Relativity asked Chuck to give them an EP containing
only covers to broadcast on US college radios. The tracks that were supposed
to be recorded were KISS's 'Strange Ways', SLAYER's 'Black Magic' and
POSSESSED's 'The Exorcist' (that had been massacred by CANNIBAL CORPSE
a year before). But because of the lack of advertisement given to "Individual
Thought Patterns" this EP was never made. This period was also the
end of the contract with them. Relativity took advantage of this to release
a compilation record called "Fate" (and the other bands of the
label, like EXODUS, FORBIDDEN, DARK ANGEL and POSSESSED, had to go through
the same experience).
During 1994 Chuck took part in the VOODOO CULT project with Dave Lombardo
and Mille Petrozza amongst others, an album was released but is better
Still during 1994 DiGiorgio and the duo Chuck Schuldiner / Gene Hoglan
separated as DiGiorgio decided to go back to SADUS. Chuck decided to ask
the ex-bassist of WATCHTOWER / RETARTED ELF, Doug Keyser, to join him
for his next opus, but Keyser eventually refused the offer (like he had
already done with ATHEIST when the Sarasota act asked him to play on "Unquestionable
Presence"). Chuck also tried to get LaRocque for the new album but
he declined the offer as he was working on KING DIAMOND's new album "The
Spider's Lullaby". Schuldiner finally decided to employ some local
musicians and he chose an old acquaintance, Bobby Koelble (guitar) and
a new guy Kelly Conlon (bass). DEATH went into studio to record the sixth
album with this line-up, but this time the producer was Jim Morris, as
Scott Burns could not take part in the recording.
A short time afterwards, in January 1995, the band went to Australia for
the first time for a few shows.
Then "Symbolic" was released in April 1995 on Roadrunner Records
worldwide, a new label for the band and a breath of fresh air. DEATH went
on tour straight away with the "Full Of Hate" European festivals
in April 1995.
In June they started a new North American tour with a new bassist to replace
Conlon, Brian Benson (from locals PAIN PRINCIPAL), NEVERMORE as guests.
In September the band went to Japan for the first time ever for a few
shows, where they were received extremely well (two bootleg CD's of these
shows in Japan exist, "Live In Japan - Symphonic Technicalogy"
and "Opened Casket").
A week later, in the middle of September, came the European tour, and
became one of the longest the band had done on the old continent.
Then came the year 1996 and the big break for Chuck. Gene Hoglan joined
STRAPPING YOUNG LAD and several other projects, Koelble disappeared and
everyone waited to see what would happen.
By late '95 everyone had learnt that Chuck had built a new band called
CONTROL DENIED featuring new musicians such as Richard Christy (drums),
Scott Cledenin (bass), Shannon Hamm (guitar) and B.C. Richards (vocals)
- who apparently didn't last long in the band - with a different musical
orientation, especially concerning the vocals. For several years Schuldlner
had wanted to do a project centered on heavy metal with a singer a la
Christian Augustin (ex-SORTILEGE, SQUATTER). At one point Warrel Dane
was announced (ex - SANCTUARY, NEVERMORE) but nothing really came out
of this even if a four track demo tape with him was recorded during 1997
('Voice Of The Soul', 'What If... ?', 'A Moment Of Clarity' and 'Cut Down').
Time passed, and in 1998 a new DEATH album was announced to be released
on Nuclear Blast Records this time, as Chuck had separated from Roadrunner
Records. But first DEATH took part In the Dynamo Open Air Festival In
Eindhoven, The Netherlands, on May 31, 1998 for the first time, and they
introduced a new track called 'Flesh And The Power It Holds' (this show
has been released on CD and DVD by Nuclear Blast under the title of "Live
In Eindhoven '98" as it had been originally broadcasted by the Dutch
radio a few months after the event took place). The album titled "The
Sound Of Perseverance" was released a few weeks later, featuring
CONTROL DENIED musicians (with Chuck doing the vocals of course, his vocals
sounding somewhat black metal influenced on this release), but also two
tracks which originally appeared on the CD demo. Three years after "Symbolic",
"The Sound Of Perseverance" was another pure metal offering
to the real metal scene! This album was once again produced by Jim Morris.
On July 24, 1998 they appeared for the third time at the Milwaukee Metalfest,
and in September they started a new European tour, with a set that went
on for more than 90 minutes, for the first time ever.
On November 7, 1998 they arrived in Santiago, Chile for a unique show,
and a week later they started their US tour with HAMMERFALL as support.
This tour lasted until mid December, the Whiskey A Gogo show in Los Angeles,
California from December 5, was recorded and has been released in October
2001 by Nuclear Blast on different supports (vinyl, CD, video and DVD).
During 1999, Chuck decided to concentrate fully on CONTROL DENIED and
asked once again Steve DiGiorgio to help him out for the bass parts (Scott
Cledenin being out of the band), the line up being completed by the original
CONTROL DENIED / DEATH musicians (Christy and Hamm) and Tym Aymar on vocals
(formerly with PSYCHO SCREAM). Not so surprisingly, Jim Morris was used
as the 6th member and Morrisound Studios again for the recording of the
first opus which was finally released in late '99 under the title of "The
Fragile Art Of Existence", a premonitory title? Maybe... The album
was well received even if I for one expected something else considering
that musically it was more or less very similar to the latest DEATH releases
and vocally nobody can say that Aymar was the most adequate singer for
a power metal band.
As the album was offered to the masses, and a tour was expected in support
of that release, news that Chuck had developed a brain tumor came to our
ears and after a two years fight, tragedy happened on December 13, 2001.
To complete that long story, it seems Chuck had signed a deal with Hammerheart
Records after the Nuclear Blast releases and wanted to release a second
CONTROL DENIED album on this label. Recent reports show that DiGiorgio,
Aymar, Christy and Hamm appear determinated to complete work on that second
album entitled "When Machine And Man Collide" for a late 2002
release. A record entitled "Zero Tolerance" featuring DEATH's
early demos was also scheduled for February 2002 on this Dutch label so
it remains to be seen if Hammerheart will still release it or not following
that tragic event.
I'd like to end up my biography by adding those words: Chuck and I having
the same age, we both grew up listening and enjoying the same bands, sharing
the same degree of enthusiasm for metal and I feel extremely sad seeing
such a talented musician leaving us. May he hook with our brothers whom
he shared the stage with at different times, Roger Patterson and Joe DeZuninga
and form another extraordinary outfit with those so much missed individuals...
Last but not least, thanx to Chuck for those 15 years of listening pleasure!
1967 - 2001 R.I.P.
This tribute originally appeared in SNAKEPIT MAGAZINE # 10. Used with