The Chuck Schuldiner Syndrome


Chuck Schuldiner who once played crushing music that popularized Death metal before attempting to follow the mid 90s phase where every Underground band had to somehow rise to face the more rock influenced bands at their own game through whinier passages and trivial lyric matter. During that period his technical abilities increased but his inability to arrange worthwhile music become obvious rather as he relied exclusively on rock structures that culminated in a solo before repeating the whole process without any thoughts on progression, narration or momentum. This created the effect where some truly incredible melodies were juxtaposed next to some very mediocre sections derived from rock and other genres. This device was then taken by a large number of bands who have then used it to promote a singular idea over everything else and has contributed largely to the decline of metal in general. Let us look at a few moments where the Chuck Schuldiner syndrome was very apparent.

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Andrzej Sapkowski – The Last Wish

Andrzej Sapkowski’s “The Witcher” series has seen itself appropriated and simplified in the form of a ridiculous TV show and movie that never garnered much respect in its native Poland and has been heavily critiqued by Sapkowski himself. The books find themselves once again simplified and denied of their essence in the form of three large budget video games that do attempt to bring to life the world of the series, but gameplay, endless superfluous content and the lack of understanding from the writers hinder this. Fortunately we are blessed by a truly transcendent series of books that despite the mainstream’s attempts at commercializing them remain unaffected in their message and expression. Enter “The Last Wish” which is the first book of a majestic saga that soars above the common man’s need for digestible media.

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Necromaniac – Subterranean Death Rising (2018)

Necromaniac hail from London UK which has become a wasteland full of terrible rock/metal hybrids catering towards young childern, and what was once the center for NWOBHM is now the home of mentally deficient hipster/indie music that seeks nothing more than to go viral before being replaced by the next thing. Necromaniac have avoided the toxicity of such a scene in the pursuit of something much more noble. The lost art of making the best music possible. The production is strong, retains the grit and the individuality of the performances while making every instrument listenable without castrating a single thing. Due to this EP only containing two tracks, each track will be analysed separately.

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DMU Song Contest Results Part 1

The second DMU song contest has been closed and the results have been compiled. More than fifteen contestants ranging from the hilariously bad to the inspiringly potent have shared their works for brutal and honest criticism. Our ever growing Discord community has submitted a few of these compositions,here is a permanent invitation for those wishing to partake in various discussions on the subject of metal and other related Hessian activities.

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The Craft of Metal #3 : Dethrone the Son of God

When Profanatica could not finish their unreleased album, the genius and creator of the band Paul Ledney took time away from the noise of other musicians to fully realize his vision in composing a short album that took the best of his influences from all over the underground into creating something that would show the world the extent of the musical genius that this man possessed and that he was much more than an alumnus of a few great bands. In this final piece in the Craft of Metal series, we look at one album that managed to open new branches for what was to remain of the underground as the Death metal movement had just began to explode with bands getting signed by big labels all over the place and leaving the most repulsive bands to grow far from the spotlight.

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Inverloch – Distance | Collapsed (2016)

Inverloch are an Australian death/doom four piece mostly known for being composed of half of the members of Disembowelment and for being considered their rightful heir. With projects like these there is a fine line between upholding the heritage of a previous project and reiterating past works in hope of achieving former glory. Inverloch straddle that thin line but also manage to find influence in much more recent branches of death metal and the funeral doom subgenre and overall create an enjoyable piece of work that may push the listener towards the greater releases in the genre, especially Transcendence into the Peripheral.

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Analysis of Suffocation’s “Catatonia”

By the time Despise The Sun was released, Suffocation were on top of the death metal world and had at this point already influenced the rising slam and brutal death metal styles that would inundate and signal the downfall of the whole genre as the technicality and the percussive nature of the music would be the focal point rather than the incredible songwriting present. This short EP would prove to be the band’s final charge as they would soon break up only to reform a few years later, but without Doug Cerrito the band drifted off into mediocrity and tired attempts at pleasing the deathcore crowd. (more…)

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Sabbat – Envenom (1991)

Sabbat are a cult Japanese band known for primarily for being Japanese and playing a heavily Venom influenced style of Heavy metal that sometimes crosses over to real black metal though rarely and for the briefest of periods. This record is actually more known for the exotic origins of its creators rather than the actual quality presented here. Replacing the seriousness of other similar bands with a certain rock and roll cheese and tongue in cheek lyrics that ultimately pull this band behind the rest.

Sabbat have a terrible habit of wearing their influences on their sleeves with far too much pride. “Satan Bless you” has a main motif particular similar to Venom’s “Black Metal” and all of the speed metal parts can be attributed to the English Sabbat. “Evil Nation” is so reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s “2 minutes to midnight” that you can easily sing the verse parts on top of it and there would be almost no difference as the chord progression, rhythm and techniques are practically identical. Carcassvoice steals the first two passages of Mayhem’s “Deathcrush” and only slightly changes the rhythm and added to this package is a hilarious imitation of Maniac’s high pitch rasp. Though these are the most obvious acts of plagiarism, the entirety of the album is drenched in déja-vu and this refrains the album from reaching the same level as their Norwegian and Brazilian peers.

Arrangements tend to be in the classic pop style except for some brilliant moments of over the top soloing and the inclusion of speed metal breakdowns. Though some tracks experiment with the stop and start mechanics from Motorhead’s Overkill (1979) but ultimately fail as the individual parts function in solitude but do not combine as a whole and we are treated to separate songs encapsulated within a single track. There is nothing to be found of the narrative Death and Black metal structures here as this album is firmly rooted in Heavy metal.

The note selection stays within the usual combination of the natural minor scale and the minor pentatonic except when the band allows themselves forays into fully developed black metal territory as seen on track “King of Hell” which has a long droning sequence with a lot of chromaticism that contrasts most of this record but then on closer inspection this feels more like a reject on Bathory’s The Return (1985). The drums hint towards more developed black metal at times as they play a martial techno beat here and there without fills but this record is exceedingly behind what was going during that time period. The best part of the entire record are the solos and how are they given the kind of space and freedom suited for the more commercial strands of metal. The solos first and foremost obey the whims of the accompanying riffs and seek to amplify what they convey with the use of a large repertoire taking from the most famous relevant shredders. The compositions do have their charm in how they use the energetic approach of their heroes to create uplifting and fun music but ultimately play on shock rock tropes like main influence Venom.

The best composition here is the instrumental “Dead March” which takes a simple Judas Priest like motif and advances it forward with perfect control of mood as the motif twists and turns and the interactions between it and the second guitar that either harmonizes in conventional thirds or plays some contrapuntal melodies. The song conveys perfectly a march of the dead and escapes the pop structure through the reuse of certain passages and a complete lack of chorus. A fantastic bridge between the Heavy metal of the past and the Black metal of the future as it takes those elements and applies it in ways that the Norwegian bands would then apply on darker melodies.

Envenom shows a band going through multiple periods as this album was released seven years after the band initially formed and shows this progression from NWOBHM worship to Mayhem’s Deathcrush unfortunately this record shows the timeline of the genre but fails to do anything with it nor add a unique twist to it. Envenom remains a fun record but lacks any transcendent quality that separates it from some of the more forward-thinking acts in the genre and probably because there seems to be not a single ounce of influence from what was going in the Death metal or a willful ignorance to the innovations brought over. An easy listening album to bring over neophytes but for the experienced listener this is enjoyable for a few listens with a beer or two but has nothing else to offer.

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