Chuck Schuldiner was unique with his craft. He was articulate with his artwork. 1991’s “Human” would mark a memorable turn for his creative output and take Progressive Death Metal into newer sonic territories that were explored by only a handful of other acts up to that point. It was a remarkable display of musicianship and songwriting that forced dismissive critics to acknowledge the genuine talent required to craft and deliver on solid compositions.
Schuldiner recruited Cynic co-founders Sein Reinert and Paul Masvidal, both themselves important musical figured in the Progressive Death Metal movement. Cynic would go on to release Focus which still stands alone as a magnum opus for the whole of metal. Sadus bassist Steve Di Giorgio rounded out the lineup with his fusion influenced thrash bass wizardry. (Note: Scott Carino is credited with one bass track on the composition “Cosmic Sea”.)
Chuck’s lyrics for Human took on a more refined approach that started to emerge on some of the songs from the predecessor record Spiritual Healing.
“Suicide Machine” is a song declaring war from the side of those wanting to pass on with dignity through assisted methods. When a person is of clear enough mind to want to make this choice, they want to have that control and not leave it to the decision of those fighting against them. This song pre-dates much of the modern “Dying With Dignity” types of legislation now found in the laws of some countries. This debate continues to rage on today in so many places.
What I believe to be the standout track from the album “Lack of Comprehension” could have been interpreted from a few different perspectives. Putting aside the incredible performance from the band on the track, I viewed it as a dark song song that looks at substance abuse from the perspective of a child. Or, from the perspective of someone warning the parents about the dangers of their actions in the presence of their children. You could also consider it a look at a child drowning in the constant noise of domestic violence in the home. In front of the parents, they fail to see the pain and reflections of the mistakes they make. Many parents live in denial over how domestic abuse and substance abuse can really affect how their children will potentially struggle in the future with some things. We all know someone. Or, we were that someone. This song felt like someone was standing up for those who needed to speak. It might have brought a sense of hope to someone who may realize they do not have to be defined by who their parents are.
The Deluxe version of the album is a great deep-water dive into demo tracks, rhythm section tracks and rehearsal clips captured with precision quality. It’s almost like listening to a wordless version of director commentary on a movie. The music speaks volumes, and speaks completely for itself.
The impact of Chuck Schuldiner and all of the musicians that contributed to Death’s recording discography has been long solidified. Newer generations of metal musicians and fans can listen to this music and it still retains quality characteristics. Loud, aggressive, poetic and powerful.
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