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.

Death “Spirit Crusher”(2:22):
Though this is not the worst track on the abysmal The Sound of Perseverance due to its insistence on staying exclusively in Heavy metal territory. The bass and the initial motif hold this song together but what genuinely stands out is that string skipped riff that appears twice in this song and that is unfortunately played once in each iteration as it recapitulates all the previous ideas and pushes them forwards in what should lead to to a climax but instead fades away as all the momentum is dropped for a simple melody to accommodate the vocals.

Death – “Without Judgement”(1:46):
This palm muted melody increases the tension aptly before breaking out into a much more refined iteration of itself showing Schuldiner’s occasional ability to chain related melodies in coherent nature that climax particularly well but all the previous momentum and the work done by the subsequent climax is thrown away in favor of a misplaced solo that just repeats the whole process ignoring all that previously happened.

Death – “Empty Words”(2:08):
The worst culprit here possibly due to the subject matter which goes against Death metal ethos, Schuldiner had a very naïve vision in regards to human relationships, through his soppy love lyrics.
The gratuitous lead guitar actually builds into what could have been with better vision a very good Heavy metal chorus as it moves within the harmonic minor scale aptly and utilises simple power chord arrpegios to showcase the chord progression fairly clearly while using the fifth for variation. The problem with this rest of the composition is that it is stuck within block headed Speed metal riffs that eschew melody for syncopated rhythms.

Nile – “Lashed to the slave stick”(2:48) :
For once in Nile’s long career, they allow themselves to completely embrace their pop arrangements in a song containing a defined intro,verse,chorus and bridge. This makes the percussive death metal nature of the music easier to absorb for the uninitiated. Through this bouncy piece, Nile do provide an interesting variation of their second chorus where their triple vocal attack actually adds something to the music without either being a mess or a distraction as the second chorus is pushed to its limit and an interesting path is fully explored that lifts this song from the rest. Nile were always the band with some really good ideas but were always unable to string everything together as they relied on the Egyptian gimmick to do all the composition for them in a career full of more lows than highs.

The Absence – “Necropolis”(0:00):
Though this band never reached the popularity of the original Melodeath bands, for a while they were Metal Blade’s answer to conquering the Slaughter of the Soul inspired movement that was in full bloom. Unfortunately for The Absence, they lacked the hardcore and Pantera influence that were essential in achieving recognition in the Myspace world. They had bet far too much on Maiden-like melody in speed metal arrangements and the stereotypical Swedish vocals of the time. Though they would never pierce the mainstream, they actually had somewhat decent ideas and could play passable Speed metal. Here the first guitar plays a natural minor minor power chord sequence that is surprisingly majestic as the lead guitar accompanies in a circular melody before leading into a tremolo pattern that then leads to a peculiar Speed metal riff that is just a little too indulgent until the whole composition stagnates in what could have been an album that would have destroyed the American Melodeath movement.

Vektor “Pillars of Sand”(2:45):
The 2016 sweethearts of the funderground tried to compose a grand epic in the form of a seventy-five minute concept album that was a supposed victory for the underground, the album was full of faults and this is related to how extensively this band was inspired by Death (the vocal similarities are astounding) and have further pushed the Chuck Schuldiner Syndrome even further into the heart of mainstream metal but like Schuldiner they could chain at times coherent ideas that did amount to something before falling off in this case to a cheesy chorus. A bouncy melody that is fairly common in the repertoire of flashy power metal bands progresses through modulation in different keys as the chord progression doesn’t resolve, slowly increasing the tension before arriving at a sweep picking section that further cements the fact that the progression does not resolve in a satisfactory manner that then explodes into a tremolo picked melody that resolves before dying out in the most unsatisfactory of ways as the song leads back to the chorus.

Obscura’s career can be defined by the Chuck Schuldiner Syndrome especially on breakout album Cosmogenesis which is Death worship but with even more theatrics and modern sterile production. Coming in at the end of the Metalcore explosion Obscura found a huge market and helped establish tech-death with their Schuldiner worship. The number of creative moments in their music can be counted on one hand and is not worth visiting. Though they may be named after the Gorguts album this is a vulgar mixture of later Death and Cynic and are responsible for the perpetuation of Chuck’s worst crimes.

A man, made martyr through the most suspicious of circumstances, relying on mainstream artists to raise the funds for his medical costs. Either way many people were fooled by his unfortunate passing into thinking that this man was a musical genius and I the writer included, genuinely considered Death to be the greatest band in my adolescent years. It is only when we cast away the influence of the external world to analyze with our minds and our hearts what the music is conveying can we truly hope to come anywhere near the truth. Chuck did create some excellent music even towards the end of his career with Control Denied but his accomplishments have been exaggerated due to the nostalgia for a time that most fans never knew. It takes more than a few flashes of brilliance to stand side by side with bands like Incantation and Demilich but despite the effect of the Chuck Schuldiner syndrome crippling metal like AIDS, his music stands beside bands like Grave and The Chasm who lacked the potency to rival their peers but produced better metal than the hordes of terrible metal bands that have dominated both the mainstream and the underground.

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36 thoughts on “The Chuck Schuldiner Syndrome”

  1. MacCauley Crawford says:

    It’s very telling when at age 16 one is capable of playing most, if not all, of the Death catalog, solos included. The day I heard Suffocation is the day I stopped playing Death, there was no more could it teach.

  2. Death wanted to be a heavy metal band. Chuck wanted to be a young boy. The best parts of the Death catalog were written by members of Autopsy, Repulsion, Montrosity, Massacre, and Cynic. It was sad when Chuck died, but it is a poignant reminder of how short life is when you refuse to wear condoms and take extra Vitamin C during all night anal love fests with Turkish rentboys and Spheres fanbois.

  3. Fuck you says:

    I can’t fucking stand you critics that pull apart decent music and misinterpret subject matter. You make personal claims about Chuck like him having a naive vision towards human relationships and back it up with the shitty, half-baked idea that ‘Emtpy Words’ is a bloody love song or something. The lyrics don’t mention love directly by any means and the matter of broken promises, greed and deception are not exclusive to romantic relationships.

    You go on to basically insult every band featured in this “article”. Why not instead of sitting around whining about how YOUR tastes haven’t been met, you shut the fuck up and make some of your own damned music to satisfy yourself. Nobody gives a fuck about your blurred vision and ignorance.

    1. He has exclusively said that this was inspired by a breakup with a woman but let’s pretend that it’s just about people in general. it is still whiny and the story of a man hurt by lies, he seeks to find his own truth in the words of others rather than analyzing their actions and coming to his own truth. It sounds like “Waaah he lied to me, how could he!!!

      Well you seem to genuinely care otherwise you wouldn’t be crying here. Did you not understand the article? I was citing the good and how some of their music isn’t worthless. I do make my own music but that is far from the point.

      1. Bualzinyervace says:

        So basically what you’re saying is that because bands were influenced by Death, they suck? Obscura isn’t a great band because you think they’re too “sterile”?
        I don’t know what kind of standards you have in listening to music, but to say any of those bands lack skill, or compositional skills is a gross misjudgment.
        Were you in the writing process with any of these bands? Perhaps the structures of their songs helped them create ideas THEY thought were cool. Maybe THEY wanted to create an Ode to something they really loved.
        To critique a band for being influenced heavily by another band is the same as saying “dream Theater sucks because they were heavily influenced by rush” . Dream Theater will literally steal riffs from other bands (Metallica, al di meola, kansas, etc) does that make them less of a band as a cause of influence? Ask the millions of fans they have.
        All this article shows is that you like to nitpick. Literally every band that ever was influenced by another band. Death happened to be incredibly influential (and still is today) because the music they created is fuckin amazing. Go back and listen to all of Symbolic, tell me what other drummer sounds, or can even come close to imitating Gene Hoglans drumming. Tell me about how many guitarists wanted/ needed to learn the Crystal mountain solo because it’s one of the sassiest solos ever. Tell me why after many years after Chuck’s passing, people still cite him as an amazing musician? Because he was.

        You’re putting a huge amount of discredit on Death and the bands that have been influenced by them.
        If that’s how you honestly feel, stop listening to music. There’s nothing original left for you to listen to.

        1. NWN War Metal Tranny Rapist says:

          Hahahahahaha! How’s the AIDS over there you faggot! Hahahahahahahahaha! Sodomize the shemale ass! Rape the trannies!

          1. T. Desecration says:

            We’ll see how “sassy” the trannys are when the feel the Bestial Revenge of the Conqueror!


        2. Never in my life have I read something as stupid as this comment!

          1) If the roots are rotten then the fruit are, Obscura took influence from artists incapable of arranging their music properly and made random riff salad songs with no thoughts on arranging them properly to form a cohesive whole. Obscura’s music does not convey anything except for virtuosity which is a tool and not a form of expression.

          2) Dream Theater suck for making pop and rock music out of the riffs of better bands bot because they were inspired by them.

          3) Gene Hoglan was better in Sadus

          4) Go listen to the classics before making retarded comments. Pestilence Consuming Impulse and Dismember Like an everflowing stream are good places to start.

          5) You should learn some basic logic before commenting

          1. Disciple of Brockery says:

            Gotta split hairs here, you’re confusing Gene Hoglan with Steve DiGiorgio. Gene was in Dark Angel, Steve was in Sadus, who were quite good especially on Swallowed in Black.

        3. BlackPhillip says:

          Dude said sassy.

        4. maelstrrom says:

          Incantation and Atrocity, among others, were both influenced by Death, and they surpassed Death in every way.

        5. Metal is supposed to be “sassy” now? You seem to be agreeing with the point of the article, which is that Chuck did not understand the genre he helped popularize, and so he died of AIDS caused by inner cerebral confusion.

    2. Svmmoned says:

      Death was good in its riff-craft alone and some of the interactions between riffs on a smaller scale, but definitely not in general songwriting.

      I thought that this Vector was Voivod “inspired”, but upon listening it seems to be inspired mainly by nintendo.

      1. Some of these bands base their riffs on the phone numbers of their therapists, since those are the sounds they hear most frequently. Vektor (you have to spell it the trendy way, like Rektum) seems to have some good riffs but they are derivative, and some boring songs which occasionally snap to semi-cool parts, which is really all you need if you are three lines of coke and fourteen PBRs through the night and looking at a thicc hipster feminist you want to sodomize while standing in the inch-deep urine in the bathroom of the insincere hole in the wall that you are drinking in.

        1. Negrew says:

          this is the funniest comment i have ever seen.

    3. The lyrics have to be vague because the song is about a young boy on a tour bus.

      1. T. Desecration says:

        “You preach how I’m supposed to be / Yet you don’t know your own sexuality”

  4. DjayHex says:

    Pathetic. A critic that couldn’t hold a candle to Chuck’s skill. Death’s catalog of music has value and will be remembered. You on the other hand, will not be remembered, nor does your opinion piece have or hold any value. You’re random at best. I have no doubt you’re good at running your mouth.

    1. First calm down and breathe. Please compare Death to a band like Morpheus Descends and see for yourself the difference in compositional ability. Do you feel that it is your job to protect his legacy through idiotic insults ? Tell us how great Chuck was. I am genuinely curious.

    2. Genres evolve. Chuck was mostly a speed metal musician and he got tired of death metal after four albums. Sometimes the new generation needs more time to prove itself because the field is much more crowded now.

  5. Michelle Marcel says:

    Chuck was one of the greatest of all time! So what if his heart was pure! Many should aspire to be such. He also loved animals and performed free concerts to sick children in hospitals. How many great singer and guitarist combos do you know of in metal?

    1. How did he get the children out of the hospital?

      1. Roofied them. All boys. In another life, Chuck will be a Catholic priest who gives out free candy to boys who can touch their toes.

    2. Trivia for the day says:

      You know who also loved animals and children?

      Answer: onkel Adolf

  6. I want to bottom for Chuck says:

    This is what happens when autism goes uncuecked (editor’s note* behold the severe mental retardation)

  7. T. Desecration says:

    lmao what is with all these comments confused and heart-broken that ANUS/DMU is shitting on Death? Did this article get re-tweeted by some fanpage, or do these kids not know what website they are on?

    1. fear the schnoz says:

      His greedy jew manager Eric Greif’s anti-BDS Israeli spam group. Play up the metal jesus role to get the shekels from merchandise.

      1. BDS are anti-nationalist imbeciles however. If you hate Jews, support Israel and hope they all go there. If you love Jews, support Israel so that idiots stop trying to murder them. If you are indifferent to Jews, well, you’re not real because everyone on the internet is either a BDS rectum-huffing Leftist, a federal informant dressed up as a Hollywood Nazi who thinks optics are unimportant and he’s going in, a Republican Christian who just wants a holy war in Israel so “muh Rapture” can take place, or an elderly Jewish woman cowering under a table because she read the news feed on Gab and now suspects that her goy neighbors are plotting to murder her.

  8. canadaspaceman says:

    I will never understand the praise for any-post 1990 albums by DEATH, or the other abortion, CONTROL DENIED.
    IF kids want to go “Wow! Awesome guitarwork!” without the songs carrying any guts, then why not buy the countless guitar shredder albums from Mike Varney’s record label SHRAPNEL, as listening just to Yngwie Malmsteen probably was not/is not hip enough?

    On the Spiritual Healing tour, Chuck went record shopping in Toronto and bought EVERY French heavy metal album he could find, and he did not care if everybody else thought they all sucked.

    Same with DEATH. He didn’t care what fans wanted. He did what he wanted.
    He helped kick off the death metal scene, but ask everybody around him, and he actually wanted to just be in a popular heavy metal band and be a rockstar. He sure acted like a primadona.

    I told somebody at the Toronto show, or in the week after (who was a tapetrader/friend of Chuck’s), I thought it was pretty shitty they didn’t play more songs off the first LP, and DEATH was losing what made them famous in the first place. (Simplicity, brutality, and viciousness).
    He told me Chuck was bored of the old songs and kept wanting to progress, and said most bands are like that.
    Nah, I don’t buy that at all.
    Everybody mocks certain bands for following the same style on every album, but at least they know what works and what their fans want to hear more of.

    1. qwerty says:

      “He didn’t care what fans wanted. He did what he wanted.”
      “He actually wanted to just be in a popular heavy metal band and be a rockstar”

      Don’t these statements kind of contradict each other? If he just did what others wanted, he would be selling out.

  9. I overdosed on Prozak says:

    I asked my anatomy teacher about the survival rate of pontine glioma and he said it’s not that good.

    So this strongly proves the suspicion that Chuck died of AIDS (he had a P. carinii infection) instead of cancer.

  10. Legion of Doom says:

    Insightful perspective on how the A-B-A-B-C-A-B structure was on virtually every Death song on the later albums.

    However, I think Chuck was trying to go in the style of traditional heavy metal (e.g. Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate) rather than rock music. There’s some demos of Sound of Perseverance songs being sung with traditional heavy metal vocals, and when you consider the fact that he was trying to do clean vocal trad metal since at least 1993 (getting run down by the ole “well the music’s great but I don’t get the vocals” qipps), the direction of Symbolic and Sound of Perseverance suddenly makes a lot more sense.

    I’ll still take the A-B-A-B-C-A-B over the A-B-C-D-E-F-G structure that has dominantly polluted metal since the mid 2000’s

  11. Al-Shaytan-Al-Akbar says:

    Schuldiner’s songs are sugary, pathetic, and whiny.
    This is not music for men.

  12. Legend Of Chuck says:

    Chuck made me gay

  13. Finnish death metal was the pinnacle of death metal says:

    Most of his work is boring, but I’d be lying if I said he didn’t make awesome solos. I honestly like most of the leads in the albums. That’s about all I like though.

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