I would like to say first that this review is my own little tribute to the impressive man that was Chuck Schuldiner, who has dramatically left us in 2001, after a long fight against cancer. He was and he is still one of the biggest inspirations of many bands out there and his music will live forever.
After releasing so many milestone albums with his band DEATH, Schuldiner decided in 1999 to release an album with clean vocals, courtesy of Tim Aymar (PHARAOH). The music, although maybe more accessible and melodic than the usual material of Schuldiner, is still pretty similar to his early work; technical, fast executed Progressive Metal. This is the thing with Schuldiner’s music: he is not just playing Death, or Power Metal, he always makes the style he plays go to the next level. His guitar playing on this album is so impressive. This guy’s talent always amazes me. You can’t do anything else than wondering “How does he do that?” each time you listen to his work, especially on some songs like “Breaking The Broken” and “Expect The Unexpected”.
The rhythm section is executed by none than Steve DiGiorgio (DEATH, SADUS) on bass and Richard Christy (DEATH, ICED EARTH) on drums. Seeing these two names on a CD release is an automatic proof of quality. I would have prefer DiGiorgio bass sound to be more prominent but still, we are able to hear some great bass lines throughout the album.
A lot of Schuldiner’s fans would have preferred this album to be another DEATH album, with Death vocals instead (for what was about to be his last work in fact). But I really think that he made an intelligent move here: to gather more fans by giving them something different from what the “true” fans are used to hear from him. I, for instance, was one of these new fans.
It is really a shame that our Metal world lost such a master. He will be long remembered. “The Fragile Art Of Existence”… was Chuck Schuldiner a prophet of his own death? Maybe not, but the album title couldn’t have been more forewarning of things to come. (Online March 13, 2004)