The hero of our story today would disagree with the title. Chuck Schuldiner had this to say about the aforementioned title/nickname: “I don’t think I’m responsible for the creation of death metal. I’m just a guy who plays in a band, that band is Death and the band plays metal.” He also said that he is not interested in music theory, but that he only knows which notes to play and that he has an excellent memory and that’s it. The rest is easy, the names don’t matter. He was born on this day in 1967 in New York (Long Island). At only 16 years old (1983), he founded a band, named it Things, and after a year he changes his name to Death. Chuck remains the only original member of the band. And there were close to 20 of them. In fact, the same line-up of musicians has never recorded two albums. Such things usually destroy bands, but it seems that the opposite effect was achieved here – each successive line-up brought something new and, it seems, helped exactly as much as Schuldiner needed to fulfill and implement the ideas and visions he had at that moment. They started as pure and raw death metal on the first two albums. After that, every album brings something new. They become masters of technical death metal, and when that wasn’t enough, they start experiments with melodic death and progressive death metal. The band recorded seven albums. More precisely, seven superb albums. It was no longer possible, because Chuck died at only 34 years old, due to a brain tumor. He is remembered as a simple and good-natured character, a master of his craft and an inspiration to who knows how many musicians.
Here the problem was to choose 20 songs. Shortening the list to 10 was a hell of a task and caused the author to feel guilty. But the work must be finished. First, let’s make an introduction with 5 songs that narrowly missed the top 10: Living Monstrosity (Spiritual Healing, 1990), Cosmic Sea (Human, 1991), Jealousy (Individual Thought Patterns, 1993), Empty Words (Symbolic, 1995), Spirit Crusher (The Sound Of Perseverance, 1998).
And these would be the songs that were shortlisted, and there could be about 10 other tracks. Because it was Chuck Schuldiner, perhaps the greatest musical genius and composer in the history of metal music.
Zombie Ritual (Scream Bloody Gore, 1987)
It wouldn’t be right if the list didn’t start with the first Death release – „Scream Bloody Gore”which many consider to be the first true death metal album. „Zombie Ritual” is the best song from this gem. It draws you in with a subdued introduction, then throws you into the middle of an explosion of wild sound. The song is literally built segment by segment, until it leads you to a simple chorus. The first album in itself was not too complex, but it gave hints of what this band would turn into. And he was certainly something that is not often heard in death metal. Not then, not now.
Pull The Plug (Leprosy, 1988)
The tone of the second Death album is quite different from the first, but it’s still brutally good pure death metal. Schuldiner sticks to morbid texts here as well. Specifically, in this song, he screams in agony, and from a first-person perspective, explains what it’s like to be disconnected from life support. Musically, this is one frantic, relentless and good song. For ,,Pull the Plug“ can be said to have one of the most memorable choruses in the Death catalog. The same applies to riffs and vocals.
Zero Tolerance (Symbolic, 1995)
The first song on this list with ,,Symbolic’’ album. A lyrically powerful song that talks about how organized religions influence those who believe blindly and who, if they don’t believe blindly, will fare badly in the eyes of God and will not receive, alas, not even an iota of sympathy and tolerance. Musically, the song is unique due to the “bare” introduction on the drums by the great Gene Hoglan, which is slowly joined by a great guitar and this song turns into a great ride, which you just have to let go and enjoy.
Spiritual Healing (Spiritual Healing, 1990)
This album marks a change in the band’s sound and a transition from the classic death metal sound to technical death metal. It is often, without grounds, slightly neglected and sidelined. The title track is his undisputed highlight. ,,Spiritual Healing’’ is an almost eight-minute epic that deserves attention throughout its duration, both because of magical guitars and great bass, as well as refreshing changes of tempo and great drums.
In Human Form (Individual Thought Patterns, 1993)
,,Individual Thought Patterns’’ the album deepened the relationship between the weight and muscle of classic death metal and the lively rhythms and melodies that come to the fore. This is best seen here. This is quite possibly the most underrated Death song. Flawless, almost flowing. If such a thing can be said about a piece of music. Andy LaRocque and Chuck almost compete on the guitars and create an incredible combination of catchy riffs that flow into an organized chaos of sharp rhythmic changes, especially in the solos. All of this is seamlessly wrapped around great drums and rumbling bass.
Story To Tell (The Sound Of Perseverance, 1998)
Oh, holy mother… ,,Story To Tell’’ is a gem from the last Death album. This is a perfect song in so many ways, and there’s nothing not to love about it. Top performance and genius composition, supported by brilliant breakdowns, great vocals and excellent solos. Other people gossiping and talking behind your back? Play this song for them and finish the story. Like many of Chuck’s lyrics, this one hits right in the middle, without a single chance of missing.
Flattening Of Emotions (Human, 1991)
In just four years, Schuldiner completely changed the Death sound. This may seem like quantum physics compared to the first two albums, but the true Death sound is still there, just lurking beneath the surface. Because here everything is more complex and layered. Manic and precise drums are supported by incredible riffs, which show that death metal teeth remain sharp even when bringing in melody. Melodies that don’t have to be kryptonite for this form of metal, but quite the opposite – take everything to a much higher level.
The Philosopher (Individual Thought Patterns, 1993)
The right song for today, when we are torn apart by various influencers, YouTubers and life coaches. Chuck questions the advice, knowledge, meddling, opinion and judgment of others. The song is a real mid-tempo stampede, supported by great bass Stevea DiGiorgioa, which brings you to the liberating chorus. But, just for a moment, because Schuldiner pulls you back very quickly with his vocals, ending this album and leaving you to think.
Symbolic (Symbolic, 1995)
One of the greatest qualities of Chuck Schuldiner was that from the very beginning, until the very end of his career, he made killer music and that all his albums were masterpieces. Not even the penultimate Death album – ,,Symbolic’’ is no exception. It opens with the song of the same name, which is faster, heavier, and probably more technically complex than anything the band has recorded before. This thing hits you and rocks you from its first second. There’s the masterful Hoglan again, helping this song get hotter and hotter with his drums. With brilliant solos and high speed, “Symbolic” is one of the most loved Death songs.
Flesh And The Power It Holds (The Sound Of Perseverance, 1998)
„Flesh And The Power It Holds’’ is another Death song with a great intro. I believe this thing is damn hard to play. As much as the lineup changed, the quality didn’t drop and you could see Death perfecting the art of the catchy chorus, and this is probably their best yet. “Flesh And The Power It Holds” is the definitive Death song from the last and most unique album. It contains some of the best lyrics, such as: ,,Passion is a poison laced with pleasure bitter sweet/One of many faces that hides deep beneath/It will take you in, it will spit you out/Behold the flesh and the power it holds.’’ It starts out simple enough, continues melodically, then comes lightning riffs, and Chuck raises his vocals higher than ever. This song is death metal surrealism, with fusion in the middle, which brings us to a false ending, before rushing to a fast and furious denouement. “Flesh And The Power It Holds” is the maturation of the vision that Chuck had at the very beginning and the fusion of all his ideas. This is the ultimate design of his journey, pace and sound transformation, which also rested on the contributions of his collaborators over the years.
Source: Balkanrock.com by balkanrock.com.
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