Death frontman Chuck Schuldiner
"The Father of Death Metal"

Chuck Schuldiner Discography               

Chuck Schuldiner was the frontman, lead guitarist and principal songwriter for Death, a band considered one of the originators of the death metal sound. His influence on death metal was substantial, earning him the nickname "Father of Death Metal". Following his death in December 2001, Kerrang! Magazine wrote of this : "Chuck Schuldiner was one of the most significant figures in the history of metal." Schuldiner wrote nearly every song on seven albums with Death between 1987 and 1998 before turning his attention to Control Denied, a progressive heavy metal band he started. He also played guitar on the 1994 Voodoocult album Jesus Killing Machine, which also featured legendary Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo.

Chuck Schuldiner was born in Long Island, New York in 1967, but his family moved to Florida the following year. He started playing classical guitar at the age of 9, but made the jump to electric guitar less than a year later. Schuldiner's early influences included Iron Maiden and KISS, though their influence is not evident on the songs he would eventually write. A few years later he began listening to heavier bands such as Slayer, Metallica and Celtic Frost, and these influences had more of an impact on what would become the Death sound. At the age of 16, Schuldiner founded Death under its original name Mantas, in 1983. The band released several rehearsal tapes and a demo entitled Death By Metal the following year, catching the attention of the emerging thrash metal movement. It was around the same time that Schuldiner decided to change the band's name to Death, a decision reportedly aimed at turning the death of his older brother into something positive.

After renaming his band and shuffling lineups, Schuldiner released a demo called Reign of Terror in late 1984, then another entitled Infernal Death the following year. He would run into problems keeping the band intact, however, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where the thrash metal movement was flourishing. "Evil Chuck," as he was known early in his career, recruited a handful of musicians in the Bay area, including founding DRI drummer Eric Brecht, but was unhappy with this version of Death and returned to Orlando without a band. Schuldiner was already fairly well known at the time, and accepted an invitation in 1986 to join a Canadian thrash outfit called Slaughter. He would only spend two weeks with Slaughter, however, before returning home to Orlando and then to San Francisco.

Upon moving to the Bay Area for the second time, Schuldiner recruited 17 year-old drummer Chris Reifert, who would later go on to form the band Autopsy. This version of Death released a demo called Mutilation, which caught the attention of Combat Records and got the band its first record deal. Scream Bloody Gore arrived in stores in 1987, establishing Death as a heavyweight in the developing death metal movement. The album is considered a standard for the genre, and established the band as one of the pioneering acts of death metal. Schuldiner would return to Orlando later that year, however, while Reifert remained in San Francisco and started Autopsy.

Over the next eleven years, Death released another six full-length albums, with Schuldiner writing nearly all the songs. At one point the guitarist even abandoned the idea of a band altogether, hiring studio musicians to record and tour in support of several albums. Death's biggest commercial success came with the 1991 album Human, the band's only release that sold 100,000 copies in the US. Schuldiner's last Death release, The Sound of Perserverance, came in 1998. Having grown tired of the guttural, harsh vocal style he used in Death, Schuldiner decided to create Control Denied as another outlet, handing vocal duties over to Tim Aymar. Even though the band lineup and writing style were similar, Schuldiner said at the time, he changed the name to stay true to Death's fans, who he felt would not appreciate Aymar's power metal singing style.

The first Control Denied release, The Fragile Art of Existence, hit stores in late 1999, but plans for a tour had to be canceled because Schuldiner had been diagnosed with brain cancer earlier in the year and was unable to travel. Ironically, the diagnosis had come on Chuck's 32nd birthday, May 13, 1999. After battling the disease for over two years, the death metal legend passed away on December 13th, 2001.



Scream Bloody Gore, 1987

Leprosy, 1988

Spiritual Healing, 1990

Human, 1991

Individual Thought Patterns, 1993

Symbolic, 1995

The Sound of Perserverance, 1998

*Besides the seven studio albums listed above, Chuck Schuldiner released four live albums and numerous demos while with Death. He also wrote, played guitar and released an album as Control Denied in 1999 and appears on a 1994 release from supergroup Voodoocult along with Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, Faith No More guitarist "Big" Jim Martin and Kreator frontman Mille Petrozza. Click Here for an in-depth look at Chuck's complete discography.


Early in his career, Chuck Schuldiner's primary guitar was a B.C Rich Mockingbird. The guitar he used for the majority of his career, however, was a B.C. Rich Stealth, a rare instrument only available through the B.C. Rich custom shop. Seven years after his death, in 1998, B.C. Rich honored his loyalty by releasing the Chuck Schuldiner Tribute Stealth model. He also had a brief endorsement deal with a small Wisconsin guitar company called Axtra, though he stuck with his trusted Stealth when filming a music video for "Lack of Comprehension" around that time. Nearly every one of Schuldiner's guitars was built with a single DiMarzio X2N pickup. During the latter stages of his career, Chuck's amp of choice was a Marshall Valvestate 8100 head and 4x12 cabinets. During the "Human Tour of the World" in the early 90s, Chuck was miking up a Gallien-Krueger model GK-250 with hollow stacks for appearances. Earlier in his career he had used Randall stacks.

Guitars: B.C. Rich Stealth, B.C. Rich Mockingbird

Pickups: Single Dimarzio X2N

Amplification: Marshall Valvestate 8100 Head,
          Randall Head, GK 250 Combo

Speakers: Marshall Valvestate 4x12 cabinets

BC Rich Schuldiner Tribute Stealth