Chuck Shuldiner: The hero of Death Metal


Written by: mullet
Published: 06.10.2004


Heavy metal and its almost forgotten founder, hard rock, are today tainted with a menagerie of "bands", or more to the point, "acts", who suck dry the originality of the styles founders.
Whenever I happen to mention Chuck Shuldiner in everyday conversation, most people ask questions. I'm not sure if its because of the name or because of some invisible aura that goes along unseen with it, but he always manages to attract attention.

Chuck Shuldiner was and is, to me and thousands of people around the world, the greatest death metal guitarist and vocalist ever to set foot on this earth. My love for this mans playing is not just some one-week fad; it is not just a name that I throw around to gain the respect of other metal-heads, no. I have far too much respect for him than that.

Unlike the many and varied "acts" of today, Chuck Shuldiner, at the tender age of 15, had a purer concept of music than most middle aged musicians and producers. He recorded his first trend free recording for $80 at age 16 with two mates from his Florida high school and was immediately making waves in the growing metal scene of the time. Entitled Mantas; Death by Metal, the 5 track tape was circulated around the East Coast of America and overseas for years purely because of the quality of the music, not because of huge add campaigns, not because of excellent sound quality (it was recorded in Chucks dads garage) but solely on the quality of the playing. It is this type of mentality the kept Chucks music constantly ahead of the pack, he was never afraid to try something different in order to better himself and his band.

Chuck Shuldiner always took to writing and playing his music with the same passion and attitude he had to life, one of love, truth, and hard work. Things that were put into all of Chuck's musical pursuits.
Chuck Shuldiner, most prolifically, played guitar and sang for his Florida based death-metal band, simply entitled Death. With Death, Chuck's first "proper" band, the music constantly evolved with every album. This was due primarily to Chuck, the mainstay of the band and his wish for Death to be the fastest, loudest, brutal, most technical and melodic band all at once.

This was also the reason behind the constant hiring and firing of musicians throughout Deaths history, with 17 odd members gracing the ranks. Chuck never let others influence his bands direction or intent. It was always "his" band. He wrote lyrics, he sang the lyrics. He wrote music, he played the music. It was quoted of an ex-Death member that "Chuck didn't do things different just because he could, no, he was simply incapable of being told what to do." Apart from contributions that no doubt shaped the Death sound, members of death were simply expected to play their instruments to perfection and not become fixated on money image or aesthetic pleasures. They were there for support, for ideas and friendship. Chuck fired guitarist Rick Rozz simply because he loved his hair too much, constantly getting it changed and coloured.

Chuck Shuldiner never had a drug problem. Chuck Shuldiner never brought lavish gifts for high-profile girlfriends. Chuck Shuldiner wasn't a greedy man. He lived his life with his family in Florida and was happy to play with his pets, Heidi the dog, (whom he rescued from a dumpster and certain death) and his cat. He loved quiet walks and having a beer with a mate. At the same time he wrote some of the most powerful, technical, brutal and memorable music. Ever.

One thing that set Death apart from rivals in the 80's and 90's [Sepultura, Cynic, Venom, Slayer] was the lyrically approach Chuck stamped his song with. It was brutal and raw meshing seamlessly with the harmonic guitar sounds. There is a lot of musical evidence on each Death album to suggest there was a lot of learning done by Chuck through the years to get his standard of playing up to the startling peaks of "The Sound Of Perseverance" album.

Chuck himself admitted that in the beginning, around the "Mantas: Death by Metal" and "Death: Scream Bloody Gore" period, he had virtually no soloing skills other than some basic blues licks that didn't fit with the brutal style of the time. Also, the drumming on Death albums gets progressively more and more insane until it plateaus on "Individual Thought Patterns" simply because virtually every timing and roll combination has been tried before. Listening to Gene Holgan (Symbolic and Individual Thought Patterns period) is a treat to the ears.

Hey, and while I'm at it, why not mention Steve DiGeorjio, whom on two of Deaths finest recordings unleashes with the humbling blast and groove of fretless base just to mix things up a bit.

There are no two ways about it, I am a die-hard metal head and eternal Chuck fan. It is incredibly hard for someone in my position to argue against the Shuldiner legend, but for the purpose of getting a good mark: Deaths style does show sings of weakening and growing distant from its gore filled roots on later albums such as The Sound of Perseverance and Spiritual Healing. This is generally accredited to Chuck growing up and the general public interest in more mature (some would say, real-life) issues. These dramatic changes of style alienated thousands of Death fans.

Also, It could be said that Chuck was a very hard person to get along with. It has been said that Chuck was subject to dramatic changes in mood, often detrimental to the music and to his career. These fluctuating moods and goals are also said by some to be to blame for the constant rearranging of the Death line up.

The first of these arguments can be immediately discredited simply by saying that the style changes surrounding the Death albums in question was for the best. Yes, they did alienate a proportion of the Death fan base, but they also helped Death get the worldwide recognition they deserved. Recognition as innovators in a style. As for the second argument, Chuck Shuldiner was pure and simply a perfectionist. When something was not right, he made his feelings clear straight away. He new what he wanted and he sought out the best way to get exactly that, what he wanted. As well as success himself, almost all of the ex-Death members have gone on to have worldwide fame with other bands. Many owe there success to Chuck, none have hard feelings towards him.

Chuck was diagnosed with brain stem cancer in 1999, just after the recording of the last Death album and right in the middle of the new Control Denied album. (A side project and a life long dream)
The metal community the world over got behind the many benefits organised to pay for the musician's expensive treatment. It is this sort of effort that underlines the devotion most metal heads had to this kind and gentle god. However all the best treatment, well wishes and prayers in the world could not save this mortal legend from his gruesome killer. He died at home in his Altamonte Springs home in the late afternoon, with his mother at his bedside, in the afternoon of Friday the 13th 2001. He was 34.

Chuck once wrote, at the age of 18, for his 1988 album Leprosy,

The Long Road
Lies Ahead
Death is oh so strange
The past no one can change
What you can't predict
Is how long you'll exist
-C.S., "Open Casket."

This proved all to true for Chuck.

While people still argue that Death Metal, even the melodic and breathtakingly technical style of Death, is boring, un-listenable and unmusical, they are obviously set in their trendy "fad" music ways and will forever remain oblivious to a purer style of music, untainted by corporate America. Yes, some biased, uneducated individuals may argue that the style of music purveyed by Death and Control Denied is "old", over-rated and under-educated.

What, however, these poor misguided individuals don't realise is that Chuck Shuldiner and Death are undoubtedly one of the greatest, most talented and most important and influential death metal entities to have ever purveyed this style. He wrote some of the most powerful, technical, brutal and memorable music.

Ever.

R.I.P Chuck Shuldiner 13/12/01



 


Guest article disclaimer:
This is a guest article, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 53   Visited by: 176 users
17.03.2008 - 22:15
totaliteraliter
Pretty disturbing article, the deification and worship of this guy seems like a really bad thing for metal in general. Due to his death he has been given far too much praise and credit to the point of historical revision (or at least ignorance on the part of the less informed fanboys... you hear things like "Chuck invented death metal" way too often). And some of the comments you hear are downright scary:

Written by Arian Totalis on 16.02.2007 at 23:57

...whenever I'm playing my guitar or just thinking about him, I sorta feel like he's with me, guiding me and my thoughts. Kind of like how I feel he's here right now.


I hope that was a joke, but otherwise...
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18.03.2008 - 17:23
Warman
Erotic Stains
I really like Death, I do. But I'd still say it's an overrated band. Not THAT great.
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24.03.2008 - 21:21
ArtiA
Robin Goodfellow
R.I.P. Chuck Schuldiner, I will never forget you by the way death metal alive with your memento . I was started metal by his
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"The WAY" is perfect and complete like boundless space nothing redundant but because the mind continues to make distinction.
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22.05.2008 - 16:06
vatro
Account deleted
Chuck Schuldiner is death metal god great player and vocal
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23.05.2008 - 16:01
Metalhead2
Skinhead1
Written by Guest on 18.10.2006 at 08:25

Written by Guest on 15.10.2006 at 23:23

Chuck is Death Metal's hero like Dimmu Borgir are the creators of black metal.

Honestly, why did you bother to insult someone such as Chuck with such pathetic sarcasm?

sign
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24.05.2008 - 11:17
Smurfophagist
This article really brought a tear to my eye. A fantastic article inspired by the god of death metal. Chuck Schuldiner will never be forgotten.
As for the comment made by fucked upstairs - fuck you man. I can see you have an attitude of an immature black metaller. try to be a little more open minded. what Chuck did was art, and if you don't like it because you have different tastes in music, take comments like these and shove them up your ass.
----
Having a signature is an absolute must.
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09.08.2008 - 18:33
totaliteraliter
It's also amusing how much sand the average Chuck fanboy has in his vagina. He's dead, get over it.
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11.09.2008 - 22:24
motox4eva
Account deleted
Written by Doc Godin on 29.04.2007 at 05:24

Written by Guest on 18.10.2006 at 08:46

You don't know me so I don't bother to answer in my typical way.

Opium: I love death metal and I love some of Chuck's stuff (Pre-Death) and I can bang my head to Scream Bloody Gore. The fact is, Cuck is overrated. And even if I respect the opinions here of every user, I'm just fucking fed up with all this: "OMG IZ CHUCK HE INVENTED DEATH METAL HE IS THE BEST DEATH METAL MUSCIAN IN THE WORLD!!!!1111ONEONEONE"

And most Death fans don't talk about their opinion they put Chuck on the front and praise him for creating everything, and that's fucking crap.

Finally, Im not alone in the universe. I wasnt going to put it that harshly but your absolutely right, Chuck is probably one of if not THEE most overrated musician in metal. Seems you cant admit that without facing extreme ridicule from an entire planet of Chuck worshippers.

And no my observation is not coming from ignorance, Ive actually been duped into buying not 1, not 2, but 3 Death albums, first I bought Symbolic because I was told that was there best, frankly 8/9 songs on that album bored me. So I bought Scream Bloody Gore, just in case Symbolic was an off album, and I was bored even further. Then I got Individual Thought Patterns, which is when I realised that Death is massively overrated. Luckily I was able to return SBG and ITP.


I love how anything that is good is automatically labeled as "overrated". While I don't agree that Chuck is the sole "inventor" of death metal; I do know that his playing style is extremely unique and his lyrics (mostly after the first 2-3 albums) are genius. If you knew anything about music and/or guitar then you wouldn't say Death is overrated. Also, as for the albums you listened to - Scream Bloody Gore isn't anything special; Individual Thought Patterns wouldn't be great to the untrained ear as I can try to imagine because the recording quality isn't the greatest; but I still don't get you, the drums and bass on Individual is outstanding as well as the lyrics and fucking Andy LaRocque is amazing - I'm curious, what song on Symbolic were you not bored by? Wait, now I do get you, Motorhead? Guns and Roses? HAH High on Fire? Municipal Waste? What kind of shit is "Hardcore Superstar"? No wonder why you don't appreciate deep lyrics and technical death metal! Please be duped into listening to "Human" and "Sound of Perseverance" at least before you make any comments about Death, listen to a band's discography and look up the lyrics before you make a decision.

I don't mean to direct all of that at just you two, this goes for everyone.
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11.09.2008 - 22:52
Doc Godin
Obnoxious
Written by Guest on 11.09.2008 at 22:24

I love how anything that is good is automatically labeled as "overrated".

Overrated means more hype for a band that doesn't deserve it. I thoroughly believe Chuck wasn't all that great and doesn't deserve the praise he gets, not to speak ill of the dead. Theres a lot of good bands that have a lot of hype and I feel they deserve it.
----
"I got a lot of really good ideas, problem is, most of them suck."
- George Carlin
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11.09.2008 - 23:17
K†ulu
Seeker of Truth
Written by Doc Godin on 11.09.2008 at 22:52

Written by Guest on 11.09.2008 at 22:24

I love how anything that is good is automatically labeled as "overrated".

Overrated means more hype for a band that doesn't deserve it. I thoroughly believe Chuck wasn't all that great and doesn't deserve the praise he gets, not to speak ill of the dead. Theres a lot of good bands that have a lot of hype and I feel they deserve it.

like what bands... man I don't think that guy was right by talking like that, but the subject of overratedness just comes down to person's tastes. I never call bands overrated. I say I don't like them... that's it.
----
Savor what you feel and what you see
Things that may not seem important now
But may be tomorrow

R.I.P. Chuck Schuldiner

Satan was a Backstreet Boy
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12.09.2008 - 00:32
Doc Godin
Obnoxious
Written by K†ulu on 11.09.2008 at 23:17

Written by Doc Godin on 11.09.2008 at 22:52

Written by Guest on 11.09.2008 at 22:24

I love how anything that is good is automatically labeled as "overrated".

Overrated means more hype for a band that doesn't deserve it. I thoroughly believe Chuck wasn't all that great and doesn't deserve the praise he gets, not to speak ill of the dead. Theres a lot of good bands that have a lot of hype and I feel they deserve it.

like what bands... man I don't think that guy was right by talking like that, but the subject of overratedness just comes down to person's tastes. I never call bands overrated. I say I don't like them... that's it.

Personally I think Opeth are exactly where the deserve to be. I think they hit 182 in the Billboard top 300 which I think is amazing for a band with death metal aspects. But then I guess some could consider that overrated. I guess I just don't understand the whole Chuck worship.
----
"I got a lot of really good ideas, problem is, most of them suck."
- George Carlin
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12.09.2008 - 06:17
thesabbathfan
CS forever. m/ RIP
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11.10.2008 - 04:45
Daggon
Underpaid M.D.
Well some important points here, at least, in my own opinion:
-I respect Schuldiner's work, it is deep and done with a lot of feeling, but I can't think of him as the founder of Death Metal just as I can't think of Venom as the fathers of Black Metal, yes, my opinion is that Possessed was before Death, and yes, for me Quorthon was the truly of Black Metal (and "Viking" too), they are co-founders, I don't think about a single band that invented a genre, there were more than one.

-I can't stand the fact that whenever something has a lots of fans or success you start to listen comments like "Oh it's OVERRATED", hey here in MS you love this word, "Iron Maiden is overrated", "Metallica is overrated", "Death is overrated" aaaah I can't stand that, yeah, Global warming is overrated too! So maybe we should stop talking about that, well I just wanted to release my frustration.
-How would it be if Chuck Schuldiner and Cliff Burton were still alive???


Oh and by the way, the name is SCHULDINER with a C before the H.
----
"Les vers savent qu'ils n'ont pas d'ailes, c'est pour cela qu'ils se cachent sous terre"

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31.10.2008 - 21:31
BrightNight
I always liked death, but it was after i start playing guitar and play in a band that i come to appreciate and understand the depth and beauty of Chucks Music. It seems his music is build in layers and everytime i hear it i hear new things.
I wont mention names...but some people overhere are really talking from there asshole. Death is by NO means overrated. Chuck deserves all the popularity and respect he can get. He was a PURE musician and a PURE person. His music came from the hearth. If a person or a band gets a certain status there are always people saying that he/she or it is overrated. Bands like Iron Maiden are overrated because almost everyone like them.....right. Everyone likes them BECAUSE they are GOOD. And so is it with Death. Chuck was an amazing personality and a genius in music. He invented (started) an entire Metal Genre and inspired lots and lots of others. For that he is a legend in Metal. And every metalhead should know, respect and appreciate the legends and groundbreaking musicians of our Scene.

You dont have to like this kind of music, but you must be able to see what he did. If you cant get it......your no real metalhead. I would feel ashamed to talk about chuck with some of you guys, knowing you are into metal and talk like this about him.

And NO chuck was not a christian he wasnt into any relgion at all. He didnt like satanic, negative and anti-life bands and didnt go with any religion. Thats why he changed later on the Death Logo (the letter T from a turned cross to a normal T)......because he didnt want to implicate any idea of relegion. Stop making things up and talk from your ass......go and listen Real metal made by real pure people. Enough said.


I loved to read the article its very good and well written. Thanks Mullet

May the father of Death Metal rest in peace.
----
"So you children of the world, listen to what I say
If you want a better place to live in spread the words today
Show the world that love is still alive you must be brave
Or you children of today are Children of the Grave."
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02.11.2008 - 02:56
nana.MD
Star-Queen
...great article, very emotional...nice mullet
----
Live how you want just don't feed on me, if you doubt what I say I will make you believe...
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04.11.2008 - 19:05
VPeter
Children, Chuck wasn't a Saint who martyred for our sins.
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24.11.2008 - 17:03
Ascendant187
Weren't his parents Jewish?

I thought it was common knowledge that Possessed were the originators of death metal. Furthermore I fear that Chuck's legacy probably does suffer from his death, as harsh as that may sound. There's no doubt he was a fantastic musician but, as is always the case, people are always going to overcompensate for someone and that tends to bring about backlash.
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24.11.2008 - 19:14
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by Ascendant187 on 24.11.2008 at 17:03

Weren't his parents Jewish?



What does that have to do with anything?
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Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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25.11.2008 - 11:51
Ascendant187
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 24.11.2008 at 19:14

Written by Ascendant187 on 24.11.2008 at 17:03

Weren't his parents Jewish?



What does that have to do with anything?

People were talking about whether or not Chuck had sought out religion (Christianity in particular, it seems) in his latter years. Hence the whole changing of the Death logo and such. I recall reading somewhere that his parents were Jewish but very open minded, to both religions and his eventual choice in music. I could be very wrong however. It is the internet after all and not everything you read is true.
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25.11.2008 - 14:33
K†ulu
Seeker of Truth
Written by Ascendant187 on 25.11.2008 at 11:51

Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 24.11.2008 at 19:14

Written by Ascendant187 on 24.11.2008 at 17:03

Weren't his parents Jewish?



What does that have to do with anything?

People were talking about whether or not Chuck had sought out religion (Christianity in particular, it seems) in his latter years. Hence the whole changing of the Death logo and such. I recall reading somewhere that his parents were Jewish but very open minded, to both religions and his eventual choice in music. I could be very wrong however. It is the internet after all and not everything you read is true.

Well, his mother, Jane Schuldiner, said that he:
  • talked about God frequently
  • he was spiritual

    But that's all she wanna say about the matter. http://www.emptywords.org/perennial.htm
  • ----
    Savor what you feel and what you see
    Things that may not seem important now
    But may be tomorrow

    R.I.P. Chuck Schuldiner

    Satan was a Backstreet Boy
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    25.11.2008 - 15:16
    Ascendant187
    Written by K†ulu on 25.11.2008 at 14:33

    Written by Ascendant187 on 25.11.2008 at 11:51

    Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 24.11.2008 at 19:14

    Written by Ascendant187 on 24.11.2008 at 17:03

    Weren't his parents Jewish?



    What does that have to do with anything?

    People were talking about whether or not Chuck had sought out religion (Christianity in particular, it seems) in his latter years. Hence the whole changing of the Death logo and such. I recall reading somewhere that his parents were Jewish but very open minded, to both religions and his eventual choice in music. I could be very wrong however. It is the internet after all and not everything you read is true.

    Well, his mother, Jane Schuldiner, said that he:
  • talked about God frequently
  • he was spiritual

    But that's all she wanna say about the matter. http://www.emptywords.org/perennial.htm

  • Nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

    We're sidetracking in a big way though. Chuck should be honoured and remembered for his contributions. People who downright disrespect him come off as ignorant. Of course perhaps the same can be said for those who do tend to play the role of fanboy and promote him as the Godfather of Death Metal (and so on...). He's not the creator of death metal, no, but that doesn't mean he deserves to have his name tarnished.
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    25.11.2008 - 21:05
    K†ulu
    Seeker of Truth
    Written by Ascendant187 on 25.11.2008 at 15:16

    Written by K†ulu on 25.11.2008 at 14:33

    Written by Ascendant187 on 25.11.2008 at 11:51

    Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 24.11.2008 at 19:14

    Written by Ascendant187 on 24.11.2008 at 17:03

    Weren't his parents Jewish?



    What does that have to do with anything?

    People were talking about whether or not Chuck had sought out religion (Christianity in particular, it seems) in his latter years. Hence the whole changing of the Death logo and such. I recall reading somewhere that his parents were Jewish but very open minded, to both religions and his eventual choice in music. I could be very wrong however. It is the internet after all and not everything you read is true.

    Well, his mother, Jane Schuldiner, said that he:
  • talked about God frequently
  • he was spiritual

    But that's all she wanna say about the matter. http://www.emptywords.org/perennial.htm

  • Nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

    We're sidetracking in a big way though. Chuck should be honoured and remembered for his contributions. People who downright disrespect him come off as ignorant. Of course perhaps the same can be said for those who do tend to play the role of fanboy and promote him as the Godfather of Death Metal (and so on...). He's not the creator of death metal, no, but that doesn't mean he deserves to have his name tarnished.

    Why do you address me with that? I just answered you question regarding his religious views. I love Death, they are one of my favorite bands, and Chuck of course was a great songwriter and musician; I don't deny that.
    ----
    Savor what you feel and what you see
    Things that may not seem important now
    But may be tomorrow

    R.I.P. Chuck Schuldiner

    Satan was a Backstreet Boy
    Loading...
    26.11.2008 - 10:57
    Ascendant187
    Written by K†ulu on 25.11.2008 at 21:05

    Written by Ascendant187 on 25.11.2008 at 15:16

    Written by K†ulu on 25.11.2008 at 14:33

    Written by Ascendant187 on 25.11.2008 at 11:51

    Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 24.11.2008 at 19:14

    Written by Ascendant187 on 24.11.2008 at 17:03

    Weren't his parents Jewish?



    What does that have to do with anything?

    People were talking about whether or not Chuck had sought out religion (Christianity in particular, it seems) in his latter years. Hence the whole changing of the Death logo and such. I recall reading somewhere that his parents were Jewish but very open minded, to both religions and his eventual choice in music. I could be very wrong however. It is the internet after all and not everything you read is true.

    Well, his mother, Jane Schuldiner, said that he:
  • talked about God frequently
  • he was spiritual

    But that's all she wanna say about the matter. http://www.emptywords.org/perennial.htm

  • Nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

    We're sidetracking in a big way though. Chuck should be honoured and remembered for his contributions. People who downright disrespect him come off as ignorant. Of course perhaps the same can be said for those who do tend to play the role of fanboy and promote him as the Godfather of Death Metal (and so on...). He's not the creator of death metal, no, but that doesn't mean he deserves to have his name tarnished.

    Why do you address me with that? I just answered you question regarding his religious views. I love Death, they are one of my favorite bands, and Chuck of course was a great songwriter and musician; I don't deny that.

    I apologise. The stuff about tarnished names and the like is aimed at previous posters who've reacted overly negative toward this article. It wasn't aimed at you in any way. I found the link you posted to be very helpful.
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