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A Tribute to guitarist Charles Michael "Chuck Schuldiner"-Well Deserved
Chuck Schuldiner deserves praise, recognition, and respect even after his death
Charles Michael "Chuck" Schuldiner who lost his life due to brain stem cancer in 2001 has always been one of my favorite American born guitarists. With the fact that the United States had just celebrated another birthday at the time that I wrote this, I felt I had to give a tribute to a man that influenced American death metal and to show that in fact there are memorable people, places, or events in this country. Chuck Schuldiner was the vocalist and guitarist for the Florida based band Death. The band’s second album called Leprosy released in 1988 is another fine example of a solid piece of death metal music and the album showed that Chuck was on his way to rising to the top of the death metal ranks. The track listing for Leprosy is as follows:
Track Listing for the album Leprosy
- Born Dead
- Forgotten Past
- Left To Die
- Pull the Plug
- Open Casket
- Primitive Ways
- Choke On It
Who plays on the album?
Even though, the album’s lyrics focus on morbid subjects, the music even for its time is of very high quality. Chuck also handles the bass guitar duties on the album and Rick Rozz joins him as the other guitarist. Bill Andrews plays the drums.
The front album cover for Leprosy
The songs Leprosy and Born Dead set the tone for the album which is a good one even for death metal standards
The title track Leprosy starts slowly with the drums and guitar play setting the tone showing that Chuck and the band are ready to bring excitement to listeners’ ears. Even though the pounding drums show that the production is a bit raw and rough, that was how it was with many of these 1980’s albums. Leprosy is an affliction or disease which causes bones to decay, and the face of the person becomes so affected that it would not be a good thing to look at. Leprosy is a deadly disease as the song mentions. The next song called Born Dead makes reference to the fact humans are born into this world only to die eventually. About one minute and eleven seconds into the song comes one of the best interludes written in the history of the death metal genre as the bass guitar can clearly be heard. It creates nothing short of an awesome listening experience and it is proof that Schuldiner in his early 20’s at the time was destined to become a household name in the genre of death metal.
The song called Born Dead
This second album is the first proof of Chuck Schuldiner's greatness
The album also focuses on the concept of human life on Earth which consists of much suffering and death. As the rise in technology has happened, it has caused people to cause harm to others in more sinister ways. When a person dies, the concept of time stands still and doesn’t hold any significance. The next song called Pull the Plug is one of the finest songs in the band’s career. Lyrically, it is similar to the song Suicide Machine on the album Human. When there is no hope of recovery by the patient as they are being kept alive by a machine, the only alternative is to pull the plug of the machine. The song called Open Casket is about what happens after a person dies and their funeral is being held. People come to pay their final respects to the deceased that once was among the living. All that remains of the person after death is their lifeless body lying in an open casket for people to see and to pay their respects. Early on in his career, Chuck Schuldiner wanted to let the world know what to expect and that with birth and life, there is also disease, suffering, and death. The last song called Choke On It has a slow riff at the start like the song Perennial Quest except Perennial Quest written in 1995 is the more superior song. Overall, Leprosy is a solid death metal album however, it is not the band’s best one. But Chuck Schuldiner’s great skill in guitar playing will be remembered by me and many other fans and he was one of the finest musicians in the history of the United States.
A list of the full length albums that Chuck Schuldiner played on
Scream Bloody Gore
Individual Thought Patterns
The Sound of Perseverance
The album cover for Spiritual Healing
Chuck Schuldiner Talks About Some of His Band's Musical Influences
The album Spiritual Healing is the precursor to Chuck's true greatness and rise to stardom
With the album Spiritual Healing in 1990, Chuck’s voice improves to a standard that makes him more understandable. The first song called Living Monstrosity is about how a person’s life can turn out when they become addicted to drugs. Prolonged drug use leads to contorted bodies and bodies that become more susceptible to breakdowns, massive disease, and eventually death. I see a resemblance to the song See Through Dreams in one part of the song. The skilled, atmospheric guitar style that we would hear in 1991’s Human album is shown here. Around this time in the band’s career, Chuck began to explore many of life’s most fundamental issues such as abortion, whether to give birth, have children or not. As most of us know, life is never fair and it can sometimes be very cruel. Chuck also discusses about the kinds of people on this planet that are fake, and take advantage of others. That song is the one called Low Life. A low life is a person that will be like a blood sucking leech that will latch itself to others to get whatever they want. In life, there are both “good” and “bad” people.
With this third album, I get the sense that this band slowly started to drift away from the traditional death metal style of the first two albums and put more touches of melody into the songs. For the album Spiritual Healing, Terry Butler plays the bass while James Murphy, the former guitarist for Testament joins Chuck replacing Rick Rozz. The 4th song called Within the Mind is about using the powers of our subconscious mind to create the changes and results that we want in our lives. Some of these decisions are made quickly while some decisions take time to be implemented. Chuck starts to bellow as he utters the words spiritual healing but it is not a yell or a grunt. The way that he does it can make his voice echo. Meanwhile, the impressive interludes we would hear on the next three albums is in this song, the title track. But overall, Spiritual Healing is a weaker album than Leprosy. Even so, Chuck Schuldiner and the band Death would release three excellent albums in a row from 1991 through 1995. They would show that they were the best death metal band in the United States throughout the 1990’s beating even the band Morbid Angel. Chuck Schuldiner should be put on a Top 10 list of best American metal guitarists of all time. He would have more than likely achieved even more greatness had he lived longer. Chuck Schuldiner had the complete package in terms of musical skills. He could play awesome riffs, fast and impressive lead guitar parts, and he had a voice that was amazing for death metal standards!