Towards the end of his legendary musical career and life, Chuck Schuldiner sought to shift gears a bit from the death metal he had been doing since his teens. Granted, his brand of death had changed drastically over the years, but there was only so much the man could do with Death. Clean vocals were something that would not have gone over well with Death’s fanbase, so Chuck formed a new band to fulfil this dimension of his music. Control Denied only put out one album before Chuck passed away, but it has stood the test of time, and has even been met with love by the extreme metal crowds. Although Control Denied shows Chuck Schuldiner venturing into progressive power metal territory, there is little difference besides this and prog-era Death barring the fact that clean vocals now lead the music. In other words; this was Chuck beyond Death.
From the very first few seconds of ‘The Fragile Art Of Existence’, it is clear that this is Chuck Schuldiner’s work. The music is incredibly similar to what Death was doing with their final three albums, particularly ‘The Sound Of Perseverance’. It could be said that Control Denied is more of a band-centric effort however, with a much heavier bass presence than was heard with Death. The style of composition is definitely by Chuck’s own hand and in his distinctive style, with plenty of room for technical riffs, dark hooks, and space for his signature guitar solos. Although Chuck is seen as a death metal guitarist, it is interesting to see how much differently the style he plays can sound with only changing the vocal style. Performed here by Tim Aymar, he has an intensely technical voice that isn’t afraid to shriek out. Aymar’s vocals are much like Rob Halford of Judas Priest; a band that Chuck was very fond of. Aymar evidently has an impressive range, although he generally sticks to the higher end of the spectrum. Many of the vocal passages he pulls off here are as technical as Chuck’s guitar work.
Although there are clean vocals here, they are actually used quite similarly to how Chuck used his own voice in Death. They have great range to them, but they tend to go for power over melody. Aymar’s delivery is always impressive, but the vocal melodies are less convincing than the epic riffs Chuck and axemate Shannon Hamm are playing. Although Control Denied is fine evidence that Chuck Schuldiner was a man whose musical vision extended beyond the reaches of death metal, the clean vocals do not work as well as Schuldiner’s rasp in his music. All the same, Aymar’s vocals are impressive, and the instrumentation and songwriting is as impressive as any Death album. It is well-worth checking out for anyone even slightly invested in Chuck’s music. Rest in peace!
1. Consumed (7:25)
2. Breaking The Broken (5:41)
3. Expect The Unexpected (7:17)
4. What if? (4:30)
5. When The Link Becomes Missing (5:16)
6. Believe (6:09)
7. Cut Down (4:50)
8. The Fragile Art Of Existence (9:38)
* Tim Aymar – vocals
* Shannon Hamm – guitar
* Chuck Schuldiner – guitar
* Steve DiGiorgio – bass
* Richard Christy – drums