The Fragile Art Of Existence

Control Denied

Nuclear Blast Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Imagine, for a moment, that you're Chuck Schuldiner. You've been part of Death, one of the genre's leading death/thrash metal bands, for some time now. And while you're proud of your accomplishments, you feel like there's something more you want to accomplish with your music.

Enter Schuldiner's side project, Control Denied - a band whose brilliant work on their debut album The Fragile Art Of Existence might sadly be overlooked by the health problems that Schuldiner has faced over the course of 1999. (Last I heard from my friends at Nuclear Blast, he's still recovering, but seems to be getting the upper hand. Our best wishes go out to Chuck.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

For this project, Schuldiner steps away from the microphones and allows Tim Aymar to handle the chores of being lead throat. With all due respect to Schuldiner, this turns out to be a wise move. While he is a competent vocalist in his own regard, allowing someone else to front the band does two things. First, it ensures that Control Denied will have a different overall sound than Death. Second, it frees Schuldiner up to do one thing: shred.

Control Denied tries not to follow Death's footsteps too closely - a challenge seeing three-fifths of the band are also members of Death. The playing has the precision of a Swiss watch, but they show that true power doesn't necessarily have to come from playing a song at a beat faster than a hummingbird's pulse rate. Indeed, there's a fine balance between fast and slow tempos throughout The Fragile Art Of Existence - even within the constraints of the same song, and it all sounds natural.

If you had to compare this group to someone else on the market, maybe they'd be kin to Queensryche running on higher octane fuel. Tracks like "Consumed," "Expect The Unexpected," "What If...?" and the nine-minute title track all put the listener through an emotional wringer. The two-guitar work of Schuldiner and Shannon Hamm is an effective one-two punch that ties everything together nicely. Drummer Richard Christy and bassist-about-town Steve DiGiorgio round out the troops, making their talents blend in with the overall sound for the common good.

In the end, everything works out well for Control Denied. It's easy to get caught up in the complexities of "When The Link Becomes Missing" or "Breaking The Broken," and you almost feel sad when the tracks finally do end. I've said about many bands recently that they could be one of the groups leading the charge for metal when it makes its next push for commercial popularity. I've not been more sure about a band being in the front line of that charge than I am about Control Denied.

Schuldiner wanted to create something special with Control Denied that would succeed on its own merits. With The Fragile Art Of Existence, Schuldiner can take comfort in the fact that he succeeded with flying colors.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.