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Thursday, September 12, 2019
COMMENTARY: Death By Metal
Death: Death By Metal?
I decided to make this post a commentary instead of a metal review because this is more of a personal opinion on the band Death instead of a review of a home video. Death - Death By Metal is the story of Vocalist/Guitarist Chuck Schuldier's band Death.
I watched the video for free on Roku or something which currently has a bunch of heavy metal videos on it so this is just a summary. To be fair I am not disrespecting the person Chuck Schuldiner and I am only providing a personal opinion on the story of the band Death.
Being around the metal scene since about 1988 when I was a kid at the time "Metallica - One" came out I have seen a lot of bands and promotions, back then "Metallica -...And Justice For All" was a huge record, just keep that reference in mind for what I am talking about.
The main point that I got from the documentary is that the band Death was actually way smaller then it is proclaimed in the heavy metal community and only lasted for eight years from 1987 - 1995. For me I have always been a fan of their first album "Scream Bloody Gore" which was only out for two years when I got into extreme music.
What I am saying is that the legend of the band in the music community is greatly over exaggerated and never actually existed but the band was largely promoted in Heavy Metal magazines at the time and they also went by the name "Death" in Death Metal which kind of automatically makes it a large band at the time.
Researching the content from their own Documentary it shows that the hype behind Death was only in printed magazines at the time and the band has a close connection to Heavy Metal Magazines which probably over promoted the band Death because of their name.
In fact what I believe after watching the video and from personal experience in the Music Community is that the band Death was directly connected to music publications and one of the main bands to be promoted with Thrash Metal in the 1980's on Combat Records.
As a person Chuck Schuldiner seemed deeply connected to the printed publications in the music community at the time which over exaggerated the band Death in their own words in the documentary.
The "business" of the band Death, meaning the business selling their products, has a strong connection to metal magazines including Decibel Magazine today and bands like Terrorizer from the Florida Death Metal scene, who promote Death, Terrorizer and other smaller acts in their printed material that never made it in Heavy Metal, like they are promoting from a business perspective.
Those companies (labels and magazines) and bands are widely known as having a bad reputation and being difficult to deal with including the band Death as described in their own documentary.
The band Death started in 1983 but didn't really become active until 1987 and only played as an actual band until about 1995.
The band also had a revolving door lineup and Chuck Schuldiner was know for cancelling concerts and dropping out of tours and not being reliable as described in their documentary. I'm not criticizing the band members who played in Death who have gained large recognition on their own in the metal community, only the band Death itself from a business perspective.
Chuck Schuldiner was in fact known for quitting all the time and firing his band members at any given time and there is almost a completely different lineup on every record. What I am saying is that Chuck Schuldiner was directly connected to music magazines and the other larger named members briefly appearing in the band made a large name for themselves off his connections to music magazines.
So he was influential in printed media and I think the band was over hyped.
Now I am just saying this approximately because I just watched it so verify the facts yourself if you want to.
The actual band Death has been broken up for almost twenty four years according to the documentary since 1995 and only made six records. Then they cancelled many tour dates and are credited for having played 485 shows between 1984 and 1998 most of which took place in the United States only for their album "Spiritual Healing" and most of their tours were only 30 to 60 days, like one or two months a year.
My point here is that yes Chuck Schuldiner was a great musician but the band Death never actually did anything.
In fact Chuck Schuldiner started in the band Slaughter from Toronto, Canada in the scene I play in around where I live at and quit and played with many musicians in the United States, he returned to Florida and made Death and did the record "Scream Bloody Gore" right after leaving Slaughter.
On that record he took the influences from the band Slaughter from Toronto and made the "Scream Bloody Gore" album and to me makes the record directly influenced by Slaughter. What I am saying is that Chuck Schuldiner's influences for his "death metal sound" came form the rhythm section from the band Slaughter and then he added his lead guitar sound to make the band Death.
That is probably why "Scream Bloody Gore" has always been a classic to me because of it's Slaughter influences. All this has been overlooked in the music media which plays to the over promoted story of the band Death based on it's connections to heavy metal magazines which cover Death over other acts like Slaughter.
In fact at the time in 1987 when Death actually came out that was at the same time as Carcass and Napalm Death from England making bands like Carcass larger than Death at the time in the late 1980's however Death was signed to Combat Records and Sony and Carcass wasn't and appeared on the independent Record Label Earache Records.
What this shows me just as a reference point is that band Carcass around 1987/1988 was actually a larger band than the band Death but had no large magazine promotion behind it like Death did or connections to Thrash Metal, Combat Records and Sony like Chuck Schildiner must have had.
What I am saying is that Death owned the name "death" in Heavy Metal music and had connections to Combat Records, Sony and music magazines at the time in the United States and the bands name and reputation was over exaggerated, while larger bands like Carcass remained on a smaller independent label.
My opinion of that is all based on the material presented in the documentary "Death by Metal" the documentary about the band Death.
Here are two stories form the video that document these facts.
Death only played one major tour around their third record in 1990 then Combat Records closed when Banzai Records was shut down by Polygram but Combat beiefly appeared on Sony before being permanently shut down. That was at the time they were hyping Death with their name and logo, after that Death practically quit.
What I mean is that it seems they spent tons of money from Record Labels to make a name for Death and everyone saw their large promotion at the time but the band never made it. Today though it still has widespread recognition and a small cult following being broken up for over twenty years and only eight years of active playing.
Then the whole thing behind Death is that is was the "prototype" band to get the music category started from Polygram and Combat Records and it was hype that never went anywhere which is what people recognize today.
The second larger thing is that around 1995 I think is when the actual band ended. From the story in the documentary the band apparently seemed to have no money or gear.
It is not clear in the documentary but from what I can tell is that a promoter from Europe had to pay for the bands musical gear and equipment to get them to do a European tour which they had to ship to Europe to play the tour.
The band went to Europe then they said they all got sick on the tour and had to go to the hospital, which is a reoccurring theme around the band Death, and quit the tour..again. Which was a regular occurrence from them, after this the Promoter put a lien on their band gear and it was repossessed and they lost all their gear because the promoter lost his money trying to tour the band Death.
A short time later that was the actual end of the band.
After this you can see Chuck Schuldiner getting sick from a brain tumor which he died from in 2001 in the stories in the documentary.
First he started firing band members saying they were "disrespecting his music" meaning what? The legacy of it for after he died?
Then he started saying he should not have called the band Death because he was probably dying or something and said he should have done clean vocals and called it something else. Then he did not want to be called Death Metal, probably because he was dying.
Then he began calling the record label and complaining that they were calling him Death Metal in magazines and he didn't want to be called that any more and he broke the band up.
Then he changed the name of the band to Control Denied, probably meaning he denied the labels control of his name. Then had clean vocals with a new vocalist done on the record.
Nuclear Blast Records agreed to release Control Denied if he agreed to do another Death record which he did and it was their last record. The Control Denied record was called "The Fragile Art Of Existence" which again is another reference to his own mortality and death.
The last Death record in 1998 was called "The Sound Of Preserverence" which is again another reference to his illness and own mortality saying he is trying to survive and preservere or something.
In fact in the documentary they said that the band was actually broken up in 1995 and that Chuck Schuldiner did not participate in the actual recording of the last two two records and that the last Death Record was in fact Control Denied material that he sang on.
They said that he did his tracks separate and the rest of the band members and studio did those last two records without him (Control Denied and Death - The Sound Of Perseverance) while he was in a hosptal bed sick.
They also said that he fell ill and had to be hospitalized both times during the recording of his last two records after 1995 and it was not even the band Death which ended in 1995. They just tried to do two more records while Chuck Schuldiener was dying in the hospital, they even had to play him the songs over the phone in his hospital bed so he could hear the final recordings.
In fact he was still trying to go on tour they said while he was in the hospital with partial paralysis on his left side from a brain tumor and he was saying he was going to go on tour but canceled because he was partially paralyzed.
A sad ending for anyone, obviously.
My point here is that many excellent musicians came form the band Death according to their biography but were all fired through out the bands six actual albums.
The band Death although it has a small cult following never actually made it in Heavy Metal.
In their own words and with interpretation and knowledge of other facts in the music industry like I have you can plainly see that the band Death was used as their name for a "prototype" band to help launch the Death Metal Category in the late 1980's and most of the work was done in printed magazines around 1990 for the bands third record that never made it.
Companies like Polygram, Sony and Combat Records seemed to put a large amount of money into over promoting the band using the name Death in printed magazines along with their logo, the name Death was later retracted by Chuck Schuldiner, then Polygram closed, Sony dropped Combat Records and they closed and what is left was just the hype from the larger labels trying to make a name for the band in 1990 but they never in fact made it in music.
So in reality the band Death was just a large promotion around 1990 from Polygram and Sony like as an advertisement to promote the Death Metal category as a "prototype ad campaign" which is why everyone recognizes the name in Heavy Metal but in fact according to the "Death By Metal" documentary the band never actually made it, couldn't tour, had no money and was a prototype band scrapped by major labels leaving only name recognition from the early days of Death and Thrash Metal from ads they ran in printed magazines that was later retracted by Chuck Schuldiner who said he should not have even done the band.
An interesting story and I am a fan of the first Death album "Death - Scream Bloody Gore" for it's cult value and connection to Slaughter from Toronto (Slaughter - Strappado) which seems to be it's main Death Metal sounding rhythm guitar influences on the record.
I recommend watching this video if you are a Heavy Metal fan and you can plainly see that the band Death was just an ad campaign from Polygram, Combat Records and Sony to see if they could run a music category off the name "death" used for a metal band...which was later scrapped and retracted.
Really though the band Death never actually happened although they released six "actual" records and like two after they ended the band. That was only like eight years long for the actual band's activity and broken up twenty four years ago.