Death Overview

Death was an American death metal band founded in 1983. The band's founder, Chuck Schuldiner, is considered "a pioneering force in death metal and grindcore". The band ceased to exist after Schuldiner died of brain cancer in 2001, though remains an enduring heavy metal heavy metal music brand.

Death is considered one of the most influential groups in death metal. The band's debut, Scream Bloody Gore, has been described as "death metal's first archetypal document" and "the first true death metal record". One music biographer has referred to Schuldiner as the "Father of Death Metal" Music biographer Garry Sharpe-Young MusicMight considered Death "a genre breaking band...centred upon frontman Chuck Schuldiner" and that the band "would become one of the prime instigators of the death metal movement".

However, Schuldiner dismissed such attributions by stating, in an interview with, "I don’t think I should take the credits for this death metal stuff. I’m just a guy from a band, and I think Death is a metal band".

As of 2008, Death had sold over 2 million albums worldwide, with over 500,000 copies sold by December 2009 in the US alone (excluding the numerous sales before the SoundScan Nielsen SoundScan era) making them the top-selling death metal band worldwide, and only topped in the US by Cannibal Corpse.


Early history (1984–1987)

Founded in 1984 by Chuck Schuldiner under the original name of Mantas in Orlando Orlando, Florida , Death were among the more widely known, early pioneers of the death metal sound along with California's thrashers Possessed Possessed (band) . In the late 80s, the band was both a part of and integral in defining the death metal scene which gained international recognition with the release of albums by a number of area acts.

Together with Kam Lee (Barney Kamanali), and Rick Rozz (Frederick DeLillo), Schuldiner started to compose songs that were released on several rehearsal tapes in 1984. Although there were at least two lawsuits between Greif and Schuldiner, Schuldiner was characteristically mellow in an interview with Thrash 'n Burn about what the writer referred to as his "gruesome collaboration" with Greif: "We just came to the conclusion that it was stupid just fighting all the time, taking each other to court and all that stupid shit." "Fate has an interesting way of working these things out...Yes, we had a falling out, but we're working together again and it takes a lot of worries off my mind knowing Eric is the man for us", Schuldiner told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The final years (1993–2001)

In 1993, Reinert and Masvidal left the group to continue with Cynic Cynic (band) , Schuldiner being unable to persuade them otherwise. Schuldiner replaced them with drummer Gene Hoglan of the recently dissolved thrash metal band Dark Angel Dark Angel (band) , and worked with guitarist Andy LaRocque from King Diamond King Diamond (band) for Individual Thought Patterns. LaRocque being obligated to his band, Schuldiner hired a then-unknown Ralph Santolla as touring guitarist. Death was arguably at the peak of their commercial and po***r culture success, and the video for the track The Philosopher even made it on to an episode of Beavis & Butt-head in 1994 (Beavis also parodies Schuldiner's vocals in a mock 'drive-thru' order of 'tacos, to go!' in death-metal style). Also in 1994, Death abandoned their eight year relationship with Relativity Relativity Records and signed with Roadrunner Records, their European distributor. For 1995's Symbolic Symbolic (Death album) , Santolla and DiGiorgio were exchanged for underground Florida musicians Kelly Conlon and Bobby Koelble. For the Symbolic tour Brian Benson was brought in on bass (Conlon having left the band prior to the tour due to conflicts with Schuldiner).

After Symbolic, Schuldiner and Roadrunner mutually agreed not to pursue an album option and he began writing songs for his progressive metal band Control Denied. Schuldiner entered into a licensing agreement with Nuclear Blast for both Death and Control Denied, and subsequently started writing material for the seventh Death release, The Sound of Perseverance. The new roster for Death included Florida musicians Richard Christy, Shannon Hamm and Scott Clendenin, and The Sound of Perseverance was completed at Morrisound Recording in Tampa and released on Nuclear Blast in 1998.

After the album and two supporting tours, Schuldiner put Death aside to pursue Control Denied with Christy and Hamm. Clendenin was dropped in favor of Steve DiGiorgio, who was once again available, and an underground power metal singer named Tim Aymar. Though the lineup and writing style was largely the same, Schuldiner created Control Denied in large part because he was displeased with the harsher vocals for Death. However, rather than betray what the band Death meant and sounded like to the fans, he opted to create a new band: “For me, it is just a matter of evolving, doing it the right way. I didn't put out a Death record with this stuff on it. I made the right choice and changed the name of the band. I tried to do everything the right way.” As Schuldiner finished Control Denied's debut album, he was diagnosed with brain cancer brain tumor , forcing the band to scrap plans for a US and Canadian tour. As he worked on the second release, Schuldiner's condition improved, but the tumor left him in a weakened, vulnerable state. He contracted pneumonia and was placed in the hospital. On December 13, 2001, Schuldiner was released and returned home where, one hour later, he died.

The aftermath (2001 onwards)

The second Control Denied release has yet to be completed and was mired in legal problems involving its Dutch label, the musicians and Schuldiner's sister Beth, the former of whom have publicly stated their desire to complete the album, and former manager Eric Greif representing the Estate. In 2004, Hammerheart Records released a two-part bootleg made up of old, pre-Scream Bloody Gore demos, along with partial demos of the unfinished album and live Death recordings from 1990. This was issued under the name Chuck Schuldiner, not Death or Control Denied, but their markedly unfinished state and lack of vocals led to the release not being successful, aided by Schuldiner's mother Jane's pleas for fans to stay away from it. In October 2009, Greif litigated against Hammerheart, representing Schuldiner's Estate, and all matters were settled by December, theoretically allowing for the Control Denied album to be completed by the other musicians.

Members of Death have since stayed active as musicians. Gene Hoglan from Dark Angel Dark Angel (band) and Andy LaRocque from King Diamond already had made a name for themselves. Paul Masvidal found success with Cynic Cynic (band) alongside fellow Death member Sean Reinert, who continue to release albums and tour in the present. Richard Christy went on to gigs with Acheron Acheron (band) and Iced Earth before joining The Howard Stern Show. Ralph Santolla has also played with Iced Earth, as well as Sebastian Bach, both of which were also stations for Steve DiGiorgio. While Santolla is now in Obituary Obituary (band) , he was previously in Deicide Deicide (band) . DiGiorgio also played for Testament Testament (band) and is still active with his original band Sadus. Bobby Koelble founded the Orlando rock-funk-Latin fusion group JunkieRush in 2000. James Murphy James Murphy (musician) was also in Testament Testament (band) , formed projects such as Disincarnate, as well as having stints with death metal bands Obituary and Cancer Cancer (band) . Murphy was also stricken with cancer, which he received treatment for, and, along with Deron Miller of CKY CKY (band) , attempted to organize a Death tribute album. Kam Lee formed the band Denial Fiend with Terry Butler, who has also found success in Six Feet Under Six Feet Under (band) . Scott Clendenin resides back in Central Florida and works in production.|

Schuldiner designed the Death logo and its various incarnations during the length of his career. In 1991, before the release of Human Human (Death album) , he cleaned up the logo taking out more intricate details and the "T" in the logo was swapped from an inverted Cross to a more regular looking "T", one reason being to quash any implication of religion. The logo was changed again, between Symbolic and The Sound of Perseverance, with a more streamlined look and the removal of the hooded skull above the "H", among other changes. |In January 2001 Mahyar Dean a classically trained musician wrote a book about Death and Chuck and released it in Iran the book includes bilingual lyrics and many articles about the band. The book was sent through site keepers of to Chuck, who in his words was, "truly blown away and extremely honored by the obvious work and devotion he put into bringing the book to life". The author of book later formed Angband.
Final lineup

* Chuck Schuldiner – lead vocals Vocals , guitar (1983–2001)
* Shannon Hamm – guitar (1996–2001)
* Scott Clendenin – bass guitar (1996–2001)
* Richard Christy – drums Drum kit (1996–2001)

Previous musicians


* Rick Rozz (1983–1985, 1987–1989)
* Matt Olivo (1985)
* John Hand (1987; never has been known to be a part of the band, neither on album or live, however he is credited on Scream Bloody Gore.)
* Paul Masvidal (1989, 1991–1992)
* Albert Gonzalez (1990)
* James Murphy James Murphy (musician) (1989)
* Andy LaRocque (1993)
* Ralph Santolla (1993; Never recorded with the band, but appeared in the "The Philosopher" music video)
* Craig Locicero (1993)
* Bobby Koelble (1995)


* Scott Carlson (1985)
* Erik Meade (1985)
* Terry Butler (1987–1990)
* Steve DiGiorgio (1986, 1991, 1993, 1995 (only demos of Symbolic)
* Skott Carino (Human Tour)
* Kelly Conlon (1995)
* Brian Benson (Symbolic Tour)


* Kam Lee (1983–1985; also vocals)
* Eric Brecht (1985)
* Chris Reifert (1986–1987)
* Bill Andrews Bill Andrews (drummer) (1987–1990)
* Sean Reinert (1991–1992)
* Gene Hoglan (1993–1995)
Studio albums

*Scream Bloody Gore (1987)
*Leprosy Leprosy (album) (1988)
*Spiritual Healing Spiritual Healing (album) (1990)
*Human Human (Death album) (1991)
*Individual Thought Patterns (1993)
*Symbolic Symbolic (Death album) (1995)
*The Sound of Perseverance (1998)


* Death by Metal (demo as Mantas, 1984)
* Live in Tampa (live-demo, 1984)
* Reign of Terror Reign of Terror (demo) (demo, 1984)
* Live at Ruby's Pub (live-demo, 1984)
* Infernal Death (demo, 1985)
* Rigor Mortis (demo, 1985)
* Back from the Dead (demo, 1985)
* Infernal Live (live-demo, 1985)
* Mutilation Mutilation (demo) (demo, 1986)

Live albums

*Live in L.A. (Death & Raw) (2001)
*Live in Eindhoven (2001)
*Live in Cottbus '98 (2005)

Compilation albums

*Fate: The Best of Death (1992)* Live in Combat Ultimate Revenge 2 (1988)
* Live in Houston (Bootleg Bootleg recording , VHS, 04.02.1989)
* Lack of Comprehension (videoclip, 1991)
* The Philosopher (videoclip, 1993)
* Live in Florence (VHS, 10.12.1993)
* Live in Japan (DVD)
* Live in Cottbus (1998, Official Bootleg)
* Live in L.A. (Death & Raw) (Official Live, DVD/VHS, 05.12.1998)
* Live in Music Hall (1998, Virus Cable TV)
* Live in Eindhoven (Official Live, DVD), 2001, Nuclear Blast)


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