Death rode in on a pale white horse. Well, actually, the surviving members of the Human-era line-up of Death rode in on a bus while the city was being blanketed by pale white sheets of Spring snow. The roads into the city were not a pretty sight, as cars and trucks were slipping and sliding and getting stuck in the fast accumulating slush before plows were able to clear the highways. But weather, horses and death aside, those who were able to find their way to the Gothic Theatre last night were very much alive. And there were many who did find their way. The second stop on the Death to All 2013 Tour might not have sold-out, but it was anything but an empty house. I’m sure the weather and roads kept many from traveling further than from the outskirts of the city (North and West of Denver were getting pounded), and there are many disappointed death metal fans out there today, but despite the unfortunate storm, the show was a success in terms of attendance, enthusiasm and sound. I can only imagine Chuck would have been proud of the performance his former bandmates pulled off in his absence, and in his honor.
The latest incarnation of Death To All, a tribute tour comprised of members of the late Chuck Schuldiner’s definitive death metal band, Death, includes Paul Masvidal on guitar, Steve DiGiorgio on bass, Sean Reinert on drums and the relatively unknown Max Phelps on guitar and vocals. With the exception of Phelps, these are the guys who recorded the groundbreaking Human album with Schuldiner in 1991. These are guys Evil Chuck referred to as trusted friends in a tribute collage that acted as an intermission half way through the show. The fact that these musicians played on the actual recording of the six tracks they performed from Human made this something more than just a tribute band. But on the flipside, everyone would agree that Death is not Death without Schuldiner. Schuldiner was Death. And that’s what was so great about last night’s show. This was not some money grab. No one on that stage, or behind the scenes of this tour, is trying to continue the Death legacy without its founder. Instead, they are celebrating Schuldiner’s life and legacy. The banner hanging behind the stage wasn’t there to fool anyone, it was there to make you remember. The images, videos, banter, chants — they were all about a guy named Chuck who changed what extreme music could be. Even Phelps was able to find a perfect balance between imitation, respect, aggression and humility.
Besides the tribute video, a few words from both Steve and Paul, and a few clips (including Rosemary’s Baby before “Suicide Machine”), the band let the songs speak for themselves — allowing those in the pit (or with their eyes closed) to believe they were back in the 80’s and 90’s. From the pummeling intro of “Flattening of Emotions”, to the last growl of “Pull The Plug”, the true fans in the crowd were taken on a trip through Death’s first four albums, and transported back to a time they thought long gone. For those of us who discovered Death too late to have memories of those days, it was awesome just to be there to share this event with those who had.
The fact that Schuldiner’s family is behind this tour and much of the proceeds go to Sweet Relief make this event something special. In fact, it’s really the only way something like this could happen. And while it sucks it had to happen on a night like last night, Steve DiGiorgio summed it up pretty well when he said “it always snows when metal bands come to town…tomorrow will be clear and you’ll go back to work”. And that’s what we did, but not without the “Zombie Ritual” ringing in our heads.
Flattening of Emotions
Left to Die
Spiritual Healing / Within The Mind
Together as One
Baptized in Blood
Lack of comprehension
Pull the Plug