was formed in 1996 by the late Death-frontman Chuck Schuldiner. As the ever-progressing Death
began to travel in new directions, Chuck decided it was time for a new creative outlet. Only one year earlier, 1995 saw the release of Symbolic
. At this point you might be wondering, "why the **** would Chuck form a new band? It doesn't get any better than Death!" Well unfortunately this isn't the part where I tell you The Fragile Art of Existence
blows Death's albums out of the water. Yet I can say in all honesty that Control Denied's first and only release is beyond a doubt a stunning meld of death metal, virtuouso instrumentation, and even power metal.
Chuck Schuldiner - Guitar
Steve Digiorgio - Bass
Shannon Hamm - Guitar
Richard Christy - Drums
Tim Aymar - Vocals
When you listen to an album like 1998's The Sound of Perseverance
or even 1991's Human
, it is clear that Death were pushing the limits of death metal. It isn't hard to see that Chuck's singing distinctly changed after Individual Thought Patterns
. Chuck became dissatisfied with his vocal duties in Death, and wanted to concentrate on playing guitar full-time in Control Denied. Enter Tim Aymar of Psycho Scream. Chuck was looking for a more melodic style of death metal. In his vision of the new band, it would be ideal to employ a cleaner vocal style while still maintaining the path Death had forged years prior. While Aymar's vocal style straddles the line between operatic, power metal, and annoying, I'd be willing to say that his performance on The Fragile Art of Existence is actually outstanding. Reminiscent of Fate's Warning
's Ray Alder or even Nevermore
's Warrel Dane, Aymar's style fits the music well. While I prefer Chuck by far, Aymar's voice is a guess.
The great thing about Control Denied is that while they may be a bit less heavy than Death, the technicality in the playing and brilliance in the songwriting is more clear here than ever. This isn't some band Chuck made because he got tired of soloing and wanted to cash in on some commercial sound, this is fresh material that hooked me upon first listen. While many people may think of Control Denied as a watered-down Death, I urge you not to dismiss this album as simply a The Sound Of Perseverance
Steve Digiorgio gets the first word on Consumed
, the album opener. One excellent quality of The Fragile Art of Existence
is the production. All instruments are clear, including the lower bass frequency. As I mentioned before, the playing is top-notch. Chuck and Shannon's leadwork is furious throughout every song, and if I am not mistaken every track contains at least one burst of six-string virtuousity. For those who are unaware, Steve Digiorgio can turn a head or two to say the least. First appearing in the Death fold on the landmark Human
, Steve's distinctive fretless five-string style is unmistakable. While I am guilty of being quick to disregard all instruments except guitar on many of my favorite albums, Control Denied's rhythm section got my attention.
Take a look back at 1987. The death metal landmark Scream Bloody Gore
had just been released by the fledging band Death. Only one year later, a different incarnation of the band would release another album, entitled Leprosy
. Notice the increase in solos following Scream Bloody Gore
. Chuck began to progress as a guitarist. Playing alongside the legendary Andy Larocque, (of King Diamond
fame) James Murphy, and Paul Masvidal, Chuck's style began to change. The trademark alternate-picked lead style is still present on Control Denied's debut, but much of the solos feature sweep picking progressions, and co-guitarist Shannon Hamm is no slouch. Once again, look back to Scream Bloody Gore
and you will find the simple songwriting structure has been replaced here by technical yet attention-grabbing shred-scapes. Solos aside, the riffs are as heavy as ever and this album practically never gets boring. The signature Death harmonies, the crushing bass and drums, it's all safe and sound on this album.
Chuck Schuldiner proves yet again that he can release great material while still pushing the boundaries of music. While this isn't Death, Control Denied is a great band in and of itself, and I strongly advise those interested to give this a chance. Don't let the "progressive" thing fool you in the least: this isn't Dream Theater. Control Denied proves you can mix virtuoso playing, clean vocals and tight rhythm, all while staying awake.
Oustanding rhythm section
Vocals (i.e. When The Link Becomes Missing
Song length is slightly longer than Death releases
(A second album entitled When Man and Machine Collide
was partially completed. Chuck worked until his death to finish it but it is uncertain if it will be released.)
Let the metal flow into eternity....