One of the early founders of death metal (along with Slaughter, whom Chuck briefly joined in Canada, and Possessed to whose fan club he belonged and also travelled to stay with), the group behind 'Evil Chuck' was heavily influenced by Venom at first and was, in fact, called Mantas at inception.
At the demo stage (the better-known one being Mutilation) the band featured Rick Rozz and Kam Lee of Massacre. Relocating to California, Chuck recruited new members and released the debut album.
The first three albums (featuring Rozz and other Massacre members upon return at one point) were heavily influential upon the death metal scene. Despite this, Chuck had enough and left his own band shortly before the start of a European tour with Kreator. Instead of disbanding, the rest of the band recruited Devastation drummer and former roadie and hit the road. When Chuck returned (with an entirely new crew), the sound was more progressive than before and the singer/guitarist was more and more into heavy and power metal than death metal. A tour with Pestilence did not go well (aside from how Death had always been accused of giving weak shows) and after much inter-band fighting the trek is cut short. Individual... again featured a new line-up and the band toured North America with, among others, Viogression who were also managed by Death's manager. That man, Eric Greif, was fired shortly afterwards.
1996 saw Schuldiner calling it a day and announcing the formation of power metal band Control Denied - in which he only acted as a guitarist. It is only two years later that Death is back on and released a new album on a new label. Despite this Schuldiner called it a day again and announced that the future belongs solely to Control Denied. Sadly in 1999 Schuldiner was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and underwent several operations in the next two years. The metal scene is partially mobilized at this point to collect funds for Schuldiner as America does not provide its citizens medical coverage. Furthermore, Nuclear Blast released a mail order-only live album (second one from Death in 2001) to support Schuldiner with his finances. Despite the aggressive treatment Schuldiner died of cancer at 16:00 EST on 13.12.2001.
After much legal hassle between Karmageddon Media (formerly Hammerheart Records) and Jane Schuldiner, the mother of Chuck, the said label issued the last recording of the singer/guitarist under his name in the spring of 2004. The album was named Zero Tolerance. Nuclear Blast Records issued a Death DVD entitled Death: Live In Cottbus in November of 2005. It featured the same track listing as the Live In L.A. (Death & Raw) DVD/CD.
In 2008, Kam Lee decided to rerecord early Death and Mantas (pre-Death band) songs he had originally co-written. In 2009, Beth Schuldiner, sister of Death/Control Denied’s Chuck, was compiling the essays and writings of the bands’ fans into a volume dubbed "Symbolic What Chuck's Music Means to Me - The Journeys of Chuck Schuldiner's/Death Fans."
In 2010, Relapse Records announced a partnership with Perseverance Holdings Limited and the Schuldiner family to reissue the catalogue of Chuck Schuldiner and his bands Death, Control Denied and Mantas. Chuck Schuldiner died on December 13th, 2001 at the age of 34 due to pontine glioma.
Shannon Hamm and Tim Aymar were scheduled to play at a Chuck Schuldiner tribute show on December 18th at Latino Rock Café in San Jose, Costa Rica. They were to be joined by members from local metal bands Black Gallery, Advent Of Bedlam and Pseudostratified Epithelium. Relapse had a Death double CD called Vivus! Out in late February 2012. The disc featured two Death concerts, both of which were recorded in 1998. Disc one featured Death at Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, while Disc two was from Dynamo Open Air in Eindhoven, Holland. Death To All Tour 2012 was a June benefit for Sweet Relief. This five-city USA tour would feature a number of Death’s alumni. This tour was to celebrate the life and music of Chuck Schuldiner, of Death and to raise money for the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. Gorguts was also part of the bill. Former Death bassist Scott Clendenin, who played on The Sound Of Perseverance album, died in March, 2015. He was 47 years old. A cause of death was not offered. Clendenin was recently involved in the Death cover band, Death To All.
DEATH - SYMBOLIC - ROADRUNNER
Death's Symbolic represents a leap forward for the violent genre we know as death metal, as well as one of the most complete and complex death metal albums ever recorded. You have to sit up for this one. It's prog, it's death, it's extreme, it's melodic, but it remains undeniably Death, and it ends up being one of the best metal albums of the 1990s.
The music is heavy, no doubt about it, but it isn't stupid-heavy like Deicide. It's smart, but it's not self-indulgent the way Dream Theater can get. It's serious, extremely technically difficult death metal. It isn't showy about it (no sweeps to be heard here), but the drums are among the most difficult I've ever heard, and the guitar parts are genius (more on that later). The album is less about individual parts and more about the songs as a whole.
And although the album is very unified, the songs are what stands out at the end. Zero Tolerance is a no-shit statement of power with a great guitar break. Without Judgement and Sacred Serenity are philosophical muses on things, delivered over crushingly heavy riffs. Perennial Quest is a bit of a journey. And the album's tour de force, Crystal Mountain, is honestly pretty amazing - a stunning combination of smart lyrics, speed, and one of the best moments on any death metal album I've heard (the segue into the chorus).
The predominant force on the album is Chuck Schuldiner, who wrote the songs, sang the lyrics, and played the guitar parts. Schuldiner's lyrics are pretty incredible, actually. They're inspirational. Schuldiner seems to be laying out a path, a kind of message through the album. It's not about gore, and it's not about song suites. It's about being something that matters - being the best you can be, trying to say something. His guitar parts are inspired - listen to the end of Empty Words, the awesome solo he rips on Symbolic, the chorus of Crystal Mountain. And the vocals are a bit of an acquired taste, but I feel they fit really well. Not only are they harsh and incredibly demanding, they make the lyrics understandable, which is vital to the album. And they're singular. No one sounds quite like Schuldiner on this album.
Everything fits together so perfectly. The drums and guitars move seamlessly together, the songs express their ideas and thoughts clearly, and there's no filler whatsoever. Symbolic is like an operatic act of deliberation. Not to say it's just a technical kind of showcase, like a Malmsteen album - what I mean is that the album never steps wrong, never has any tracks just filling up time, never has any errant notes or boring stuff. It's paced great, ending on Perennial Quest (a masterpiece). And unlike most death metal, Death took the effort to make the album mean something. Symbolic truly is symbolic.
"Without judgment what would we do ?
We would be forced to look
At ourselves emerged in lost time
Assuming what may be
Perception would increase a million times"
"Do you remember when
Things seemed so eternal?
Heroes were so real...
Their magic frozen in time
The only way to learn
Is beware and hold on tight"
And that's honestly what pushes this from a great tech death metal album to something more. Symbolic is one of the best death metal albums ever recorded, and anyone who likes metal deserves this album. - Max V.
DEATH - LIVE IN L.A. - NUCLEAR BLAST
The new Death album, one of death metal's rare live albums, is received with several raised eyebrows here at Metallian Towers. The simple and black jacket design is perhaps a bit too morbid given how band founder and main man Schuldiner is fighting for his life against cancer. Having said that an assumption is that the label is commemorating the passing of the band Death from the scene. Featuring 13 songs from Death's long list of available songs, Live In L.A. (which a year ago was scheduled to be released by Holland's Hammerheart Records) includes the band's better-known songs like Symbolic, The Philosopher, Pull The Plug and The Metallian's perennial favourite Zombie Ritual in a concise and orderly fashion. The sound, apart from a muffled rhythm guitar, is quite good and the rapping between songs is isolated to Schuldiner exulting and congratulating the metal crowd. Given that the US system does not provide for its citizens, there is another posthumous Death release to boost the money available for Schuldiner and his current treatment. If so, this release might not be the band's last. There are two reasons to buy Live In L.A. and each is good enough by itself. - Ali "The Metallian"
CHUCK SCHULDINER - ZERO TOLERANCE - KARMAGEDDON
Chuck Schuldiner's Zero Tolerance is an accident. The album features four hitherto unheard instrumental tracks - Track 1, Track 2, etc. - and Death's 1985 and 1986 demos, Infernal Death and Mutilation respectively. The album was put together by Karmageddon Records which had a recording contract signed with Chuck Schuldiner, but following the man's death and a disagreement with Schuldiner's family could not release the planned Control Denied album. The label has now tried to salvage the situation by issuing this sampler of sorts.
The four instrumentals enjoy a great sound - being rehearsal recordings and all - and are in the same vein as Death later work. The listener is treated to the emotional, the progressive and, pardon the pun, the deathly. One has to agree with the booklet's comment that the completed work would have been an excellent album.
As things stand right now, Zero Tolerance is only recommended to Schuldiner's die-hard fans. Two old demos and four unfinished instrumentals are not the stuff to satiate the fans' demand for the full album which is gathering dust in some closet somewhere. - Ali "The Metallian"