Sunday Old School: Paying Tribute To Death And Chuck Schuldiner
Band Photo: Death (?)
A few weeks ago I was in the metal section of my local HMV branch, when I heard some kids mention a name. "Oooh! Death! What a great band name! Honestly, who would buy an album from a band with such a stupid name? I bet they suck!" All I could think to myself as they wandered away with their copies of the latest Slipknot and Panic! At The Disco albums was, "If you only knew, kids...." Quite honestly, Death's name is about the only thing anyone could ever have a problem with. Everything else about them is pure magic. Death is responsible for some of the best songs, album covers, song titles and musicianship in the celebrated history of extreme metal.
Death was formed in 1983 by vocalist/guitarist Chuck Schuldiner in the city of Orlando, Florida. They released their first album, "Scream Bloody Gore," four years later and quickly established themselves as one of the pioneers of death metal along with bands such as Possessed and Obituary. Their next album, "Leprosy" followed on where "Scream Bloody Gore" left off lyrically, focusing on violence, blood and guts, but the band changed to writing about more social and political issues on their next album, "Spiritual Healing." This album also featured alot more in the way of melodies and musical progression than the previous two albums. The band continued with their progression into the technical side of death metal when they released the album "Human" in 1991, which featured Schuldiner as well as Sadus bassist Steve DiGorgio and Cynic members Sean Reinhert and Paul Masvidal. "Human" also featured the band's first song to be given the music video treatment, "Lack Of Comprehension."
Death continued to release highly acclaimed albums and change band members, with Schuldiner being the only constant member in the band's history. They would release their seventh and final album, "The Sound Of Perseverance" in September of 1998 to great critical success, before the band was terminated by Schuldiner in favour of his power metal band, Control Denied. Sadly, Control Denied would only be able to release one album, as shortly after the record was finished Chuck Schuldiner was diagnosed with brain cancer. Many members of the metal community held benefit shows to help pay for his treatment and his medical bills and a live Death album was also released to help raise funds. After a time, he contracted pneumonia and placed in the hospital. He was discharged on December 13th 2001, the day he was to tragically pass away one hour after returning to his home. He was only thirty four years old.
The legacy of Chuck Schuldiner and Death continue to this day however. Many metal bands frequently cover Death songs as a tribute and he has even been hailed as a musicial genius by members of the Hip-Hop community. Many younger metal fans looking to get more into death metal, are almost always told to check out Death. Many of the alumni of Death have also performed in other acclaimed metal bands such as Iced Earth, Cynic and Deicide and the band also featured metal legends such as Steve Digorgio and Gene Hogland (of Dark Angel, Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory fame) as members of the group. While the band's name may be a little corny, there's absolutely no doubt that they were one of the finest metal bands to ever grace the stage. Even eight years after their demise, Death continues to collect new fans every day and they will undoubtedly continue to do so for a long, long time.
Death - "Spirit Crusher"
Death - "Lack Of Comprehension"
Death - "Crystal Mountain"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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