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Control Denied - "The Fragile Art of Existence (3-disc reissue)" (CD)

Control Denied - "The Fragile Art of Existence (3-disc reissue)" CD cover image

"The Fragile Art of Existence (3-disc reissue)" track listing:

Disc 1
1. Consumed
2. Breaking The Broken
3. Expect The Unexpected
4. What If...?
5. When The Link Becomes Missing
6. Believe
7. Cut Down
8. The Fragile Art Of Existence

Disc 2
1. Consumed (1999 Demos)
2. When The Link Becomes Missing (1999 Demo)
3. The Fragile Art Of Existence (1999 Demo)
4. Breaking The Broken (1999 Demo)
5. Breaking The Broken (1999 Demo) (w/ Chuck Schuldiner on vocals)
6. Believe (1997 Demo)
7. What If…? (1997 Demo)
8. Cut Down (1997 Demo)
9. Tune Of Evil (Comedy Demo)

Disc 3
1. What If...? (1996 Demo)
2. Cut Down (1996 Demo)
3. Expect The Unexpected (1996 Demo)
4. Believe (1996 Demo)
5. The Fragile Art Of Existence (1996 Demo)
6. What If...? (1996 Demo)
7. Expect The Unexpected (1996 Demos) (w/ Chuck Schuldiner on vocals)
8. What If...? (1996 Demos) (w/ Chuck Schuldiner on vocals)
9. Cut Down (1996 Demos) (w/ Chuck Schuldiner on vocals)

Reviewed by on November 4, 2010

"Chuck simply had a way with combining brutality with melody that will forever stand alone."

As any fan of the acclaimed and legendary metal band Death will know, their discography is broad enough to accommodate several types of fans, including those who bask in the progressive and melodic nature of their latter era. Interestingly enough, Death's last album, “The Sound of Perseverance,” was written around the period as side project Control Denied's “The Fragile Art of Existence,” with nearly the same lineup - and it shows. Had Chuck sang on this album, no one would have blinked an eye at it being the next Death album. However, it was well known Chuck both felt constrained by singing in the death metal style and was a big fan of classic metal in the style of Judas Priest, giving natural rise to picking someone like Tim Aymar on vocals for a new project. And as a fun fact – Chuck originally sought out both Rob Halford and Warrel Dane (Nevermore) before deciding on Aymar as the new vocalist – what could have been!

So that out of the way, the only real sticking point is Tim Aymar isn't it? We all love at least one Death album (the correct response here is to nod your head) and "The Fragile Art of Existence" is without a doubt in the same catchy and well-written format Chuck developed during the “Symbolic” era. Tim's vocal style is clean power/heavy metal with occasional rock style rasps which is always a tricky thing to get right. Much like Watchtower, Spiral Architect, Nevermore and other technical bands that try to meld these vocals into the mix, they fall into a love or hate category for most people. Powerful, varied, emotive? Without a doubt, and yet personally I'm still not a big fan. Whereas Chuck's vocals were a sure fire success for death metal fans, results may vary here.

But that whining out of the way (mine not Tim's), I should reiterate that any fan of “Symbolic” or “The Sound Of Perseverance” will be head banging long into the night with the riffs on this album (not so much those early fans who recite the lyrics to “Zombie Ritual” in their sleep). Rooted in classic metal from bands like Maiden and Preist, yet injected with more guts, technicality and heaviness, Chuck simply had a way with combining brutality with melody that will forever stand alone. Out of all of the albums in that bass maestro and legendary gun for hire Steve DiGiorgio plays on, this may be the one in which he stands out the most, both in the mix and the leeway Chuck gave him to play wacky technical lines on his fretless. Likewise now well-known drummer Richard Christy does a great job living up to the impossible shadows of Hoglan and Reinert who have previously held the throne behind Chuck.

Sadly, however, this was to be Chuck's last release and so the cherished nature of his demos become all the more obvious resulting in a two-CD and three-CD version of this re-release. First let me give an overview of the demos on both CDs. Despite coming from 3 different recordings, all of the tracks are great quality and essentially sound like a raw mix of a final cd – better quality than “Scream Bloody Gore” and lets not even discuss the difference between these and the “Reign of Terror” demo. For a lot of old-school fans who prefer the sound of recordings before they are brick walled and maximized, this will please the ears. The downside of both albums is that mainly they are just instrumental versions of the songs found on the album - they don't have a lot of replay value but there value instead comes from the fact these are some of Chuck's last recordings.

However, with clandestine track-list wrigglings, Relapse has put most of the tracks featuring Chuck on vocals on the third disc rather than the second. So should you fork out the extra money for the three-CD version? Ask yourself this question – am I a massive Chuck fan? Do I absolutely need to hear every track he laid vocals to? If not, the two-CD version won't disappoint. No matter, hearing this album is essential for any fan of Death and that wily group of metal heads who like heavy music, but not heavy vocals.

Highs: Superbly written progressive, melodic, and heavy songs.

Lows: Tim Aymar's vocals are a love or hate affair.

Bottom line: Hearing this album is essential for any fan of Death and that wily group of metal heads who like heavy music, but not heavy vocals.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)