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How Did Chuck Schuldiner Start His Career?

Updated on September 7, 2019
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is looking to always explore his writing opportunities.

Introduction to How Chuck Schuldiner Began His Musical Career

Chuck Schuldiner (1967-2001) was the front man and founder of the Tampa Florida band Death. What some you may not know is how did this influential man begin his career and eventually establish himself as one of the best US born guitarists? The first album that he wrote is the one called Scream Bloody Gore which was released in 1987. One word of warning though: most of the song titles might make some people feel queasy in their stomach.

A Photo of Chuck Schuldiner Playing the Guitar


What This Article is About and Is Not About

Schuldiner though never finished high school, dropping out in spite of having performed well. He later regretted the decision. This article is not a biography of Schuldiner but it is being written to show how this man started his career. The debut album may as well have been a solo project because Schuldiner performs the vocals, guitars, and bass. Chris Reifert plays the drums.

Chuck Schuldiner and His Career: 1983-1987

Schuldiner started his musical career in 1983, the same year that Metallica’s Kill Em All album was released. Loudwire Magazine writer Jon Wiederhorn wrote about Schuldiner on December 13, 2017, 16 years after Schuldiner lost his battle with brain stem cancer. But we can discuss the legacy of Schuldiner in a bit. Schuldiner formed the band Death with Rick Rozz and drummer Kam Lee in 1983. Schuldiner had been living in Florida since 1968 when his family moved down there. The style of this debut album consists of harsh vocals, churning riffs, and furious drumming. I’ve already written a tribute article on Schuldiner but this article is to further discuss Schuldiner’s impact on the death metal scene as well as coming up with a list of where he ranks on the all-time greatest heavy metal guitarists list.

What Was Schuldiner Commonly Referred to By Many Fans?

Although Schuldiner is considered by many to be the godfather of death metal this is a term he was never comfortable with. Schuldiner described himself as just a guy that is a guitarist and Death is the name of the band. Let’s just enjoy the music about this band and not get too caught up into who founded the death metal genre.

Schuldiner and His Response to Being Called The Godfather of Death Metal

In his 34 years on this planet that we call Earth, he dazzled us with his creative, intricate melodies and superb guitar work. He was responsible for the creation of seven studio albums and the several demos. MTV incorrectly categorized him as a guitarist that played grindcore and death metal. Actually, I’ve heard enough of his work to know that he actually played an early form of melodic death metal after the first two albums. Schuldiner responded to the claims that he was the godfather of death metal saying: “In my opinion Venom was the first to have that brutal vocal styles, tuned low, that initial brutal aggression. But maybe I’ve kept it going to what death metal is today,” (Wiederhorn, 2017).

Greatest Guitar Players of All Time (My List)

Yngwie J. Malmsteen
Jesper Stromblad
Marty Friedman
Chuck Schuldiner (this is a tough call because he was so talented).
Bjorn Gelotte
James Hetfield
Michael Amott
Niklas Sundin
Alexi Laiho
Bill Steer
Jason Becker
Kiko Loureiro
Chris Impellitteri
Note: this list of the greatest guitar players of all time is based on educated guesses from over 25 years of heavy metal listening and is subjective.

Schuldiner and His Impact on the Death Metal Genre in the United States & Worldwide

Schuldiner had this sort of revolving door policy in which members came and went after their contributions and it was said that he did this in order for the band’s sound to evolve. From the beginning of this debut, the song Infernal Death tells listeners what they are about to witness: death metal that shows no mercy in terms of the lyrics. I’ve been critical of US based heavy metal bands for their decline but there are several of them that have made their mark on the scene. The United States excelled with quality heavy metal from about 1980 until about the early 2000’s which is still about a little over 20 years so the United States was strong in this category for a while. There are still good US based metal bands but the death metal scene of the 1980’s was the peak of US greatness. Zombie Ritual has a really nice exotic riff and is the first song I ever heard from this album. Denial pf Life features the sort of screams that we have never heard from him before. In this decade that was common because even Chuck Billy did that kind of vocal style early in the career of Testament. The final analysis is that Chuck Schuldiner started his career with a debut album that had lyrical content that may leave some fans wanting to stay away from the music but he developed the band’s style using more melody and eventually jazz influences which strengthened his position among the greatest guitarists of all time. In terms of the first analysis of his career through this article if we had to say where he ranks among the best guitarists of all time, he probably should be at least in the Top 15 greatest of all time.


Listening to the debut album of Florida based death metal band called Deatheven in 2019, Scream Bloody Gore shows that Schuldiner was not only destined for greatness but he would end up influencing the rise of other death metal bands such as Avulsed which would come onto the scene in 1991 and that band would take the heaviness even further.



"Zombie Ritual"

© 2018 Ara Vahanian


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