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The story behind the unreleased 2nd Control Denied album: When Man and Machine Collide.

Scotty W

Before I tell you anything about this album and why you should care, I want to put one image in your mind.

Chuck Schuldiner was treated for cancer in 98/99, the cancer abated somewhat in 2000, before returning and ultimately killing him in on December 13, 2001. Of that year of health his mother had this to say:

“He drove himself unmercifully that last year with the last Control Denied album. We worried so much about him and begged him to rest, that it was good enough. As the perfectionist he is, he said it was just okay and that wasn’t good enough for him or his fans. And he would go on until he couldn’t anymore, and he really mourned that he couldn’t finish it.”

To this day, that second Control Denied album is unreleased. So who was Chuck Schuldiner and why should you care?

Chuck is famous as the singer guitarist of a Death metal band named…Death, which was active from approximately 1984-1998. After ending Death, he started a progressive metal band named Control Denied, which released one album in 1999.

My first exposure to Death was on the Canadian equivalent of Headbanger’s Ball, a show called Loud. I would force myself to try to watch, but I could rarely make it through the evil and screaming, innocent as I was at the time. A video for the Death song “The Philosopher” came on, and I rolled my eyes at the fact that anyone would have the gall to name their band Death.

I did not change the channel. The opening arpeggios were beautiful, but I did not like the vocals throughout the rest of the song. I did notice one thing though, there was nothing ugly or morbid about the video, nothing negative, and none of the typical heavy metal affectation.

I won’t link that video here because while popular, I actually think it is one of their worst songs. Instead I will link the song that got me into them, Crystal Mountain. Just listen to that repeated solo/riff in the middle and end, it is divine.

Chuck is regarded as sacred in the metal community. This is undoubtedly a mistake. He could be a jerk. But he deserves respect. If you watch an interview with him he is just a cool and humble guy without affectation. It is in his growth and development that we see what is special.

There are essentially two eras: 84-90, and 91-98. The first era begins with shitty guitar playing and gore themed lyrics. The guitars improve quickly and the lyrics abandon the horror movie imagery by their third album. This era is straight ahead death metal, but it produced one of unquestioned anthems of the genre, Pull the Plug.

The second era is what I prefer. The music stays just as heavy but becomes much more complex. These 4 albums can be compared with Metallica’s 80’s output, in that it is nearly impossible to say which is best. Here is where you see what is special about his development: he was pursuing his musical ideal and abilities with the intensity of someone like Dante or Milton, and expanding the boundaries of his genre. And the lyrics became even somewhat… intelligent.

The development of the band’s logo showcases this development well. It begins as as horror film potpourri with blood, spiders and an inverted cross, and ending stark and dignified.

The reason the band was named Death was actually because Chuck’s older brother died in a car accident. He wanted to turn a negative into a positive. There is something very hard, impossible and uncompromising about death. To face it squarely is hard. I think when metal bands turn death into some kind of morbid comic book phenomenon they are deluding themselves, thinking that by facing a caricature they have faced the real thing. In any case, with Death, I see the LOGIC OF DEATH working its way through their music, improving and purifying it.

Following Death’s final album, The Sound of Perseverance, the band dissolved, and a new band with a new vocalist was formed. I found this gem from what may be the final Chuck Schuldiner interview:

Int: I liked Death, but the vocals got too grating for me. (The gall to say that to his face!)

Chuck: "Me too, seriously. Yeah, it takes away. I've always thought the vocals were the missing link with Death, especially the past two or three albums. But I didn't want to screw up.”
“I started worrying (note: this is after the first bout of cancer treatment) that screaming like that for so many years is not a real good thing to be doing to your brain, period! But the vocal style of Death is very over-the-top. For the hour-and-a-half, two hours on stage ever night, I've never thought of it as a very healthy vocal style. It's one I'd never recommend to people. Who knows?”

“With Death, I always felt like a lot of people like the music, but they didn't like the vocals, which I could totally relate to. I was the first to say, "Yeah, I know what you mean," to those people. So in the big picture, when it came time to write for this record, I just knew that it was going to be great to finally hear proper vocals(.)”

My own opinion: I love Chuck’s vocals. Without a doubt the best death metal vocals and good lyrics.

There are some great moments on the first Control Denied cd. It is far from perfect. Chuck wrote the lyrics while the singer Tim Aymar sang them. The problem is that screaming is different than a song with a melody, which means that some of the vocal lines are a bit flat. The music, however, continues to astonish.

Somewhere around the end of the production cycle on the first Control Denied album, Chuck began having problems with a pinched nerve in his neck, which after some investigation was found to actually be a brain tumor. Since he did not have medical insurance, he was forced to buy very expensive medical treatments. This bought him a year.

This brings us back to the image we opened with, of a man feverishly trying to work faster than death. This quote, from the above interview has always amazed me:

“So I came home and I wrote a song in one day--I just sat down and wrote music and wrote lyrics.” If you know how complex this music is, you will understand that is quite a feat. To get some perspective, check out a very rough demo for one of the songs for the album.

Chuck Schuldiner died December 13, 2001. His funeral was attended by all his present and former (there were a lot) bandmates.

On December 26, 2001 we find this press release:

“Despite the recent passing of CONTROL DENIED mainman Chuck Schuldiner, the remaining members of the groupbassist Steve DiGiorgio, vocalist Tim Aymar, guitarist Shannon Hamm, and drummer Richard Christyappear determined to complete work on the band's long-awaited sophomore effort, entitled When Machine and Man Collide, for a late 2002 release through Hammerheart Records. According to reports, the drums and most of the guitar parts have already been laid down (Hamm is said to have only a few touch-ups left to do),and DiGiorgio and Aymar are waiting to record their parts, after which the album will be mixed and mastered. As Steve himself indicated in his touching tribute to Chuck (originally posted here on December 20th),it's sad beyond belief that [Chuck] never saw [the album] to its completion. We will try our best to finish it in his honor, but will never know if it lives up to his standards. That's the least we can do for someone who gave so much and cared so much about what he did and how it affected those who believed as well.”

That was 2001. In 2023, the last word was given by their manager Eric Greif:

“There isn’t a completed (…) album, too many years have gone by. This takes the pressure of any musicians or people involved by us saying ‘that’s it, no need to keep waiting. Let the idea rest.”

What an incredible deflation! How could it come to this? I decided to find out.

Scotty W

The bassist Steve Di Giorgio gave this interview summarizing the problems.

I do not find this interview persuasive. Notice he never says impossible, just really difficult. He lists several problems: legal issues, difficulties relearning the parts, and technical issues.

My basic assumption was that with regard to the legal issues, the record label must be in the wrong, especially given how much Chuck loved his family. But it is far from clear that this is the case. Let’s backup.

Chuck did quite a bit of label hopping. Symbolic (1995) was released on Roadrunner, while the final Death album (1998) and first Control Denied album (1999) were released on Nuclear Blast.

After that, just before he died, Chuck signed with a small Dutch label named Hammerheart. The label owner Guido Heijnen had this to say about the signing:

“I started out as a fan and I still consider 'Leprosy' to be a monument within extreme metal. It was very cool to meet Chuck and even cooler to sign him to our own label. …In those few days, we walked a lot together. We went to record stores and even tumbled drunk out of a pub. Chuck appreciated the personal contact very much. He was very happy with our deal, that compared to previous contracts, was very clear and simple.”

Before he died, Chuck made his sister, Beth, his legal executor. This seems to have been a mistake, as the drama began almost immediately. Within a month of the funeral, she was involved in a legal squabble with an online music auction site. The family had this to say:

“Through his Internet provider, it was discovered the auction site owner was Thom Hazeart. Bethann also got his cell telephone number, and spoke directly to him, and he was outraged she had gotten the number. When she asked him about the proceeds from the auction, he said there was no money to send, he had spent it for postage and also there was no merchandise left, he had sold it all, and what difference did it make, Chuck was dead. Loathsome man.”

The site owner responded, denying the charges and adding this.

“I would also like to add, that the statements about Chuck 'being dead, and it not mattering', were NEVER EVER said...NEVER in my LIFE have I heard something so f.cking disgusting, appalling, and disturbing. I'm not sure if it was a misunderstanding, or a misquote, or what exactly the f.ck it was”

I added this dispute because it seems to foreshadow the legal dispute to follow. Around the same time as the previous drama, the owner of Hammerheart began to worry that the record was going to be taken from him.

Heijnen: “I have a contract with both Chuck's and my name underneath. It's legally valid, although the family's creditors might have their own ideas about that. The fact that the family doesn't name Hammerheart anywhere anymore, is a little frightening indeed. But when people start to alter agreements made between Chuck and me, then that's it as far as I go. I made a deal with him back then, and paid him quite an advance.”

It turns out that he was correct. Within days (or weeks, depending on the storyteller) Beth went to the Morrisound studios and took the tapes, without the knowledge of Heijnen. She began to shop the tapes around to different record labels. Lead singer Tim Aymar would later say that they planned to use that money to buy out the contract. Is that legal?

I can’t find anything about Heijnen’s initial response to this, but whatever he said, his mother responded by saying the family had opened litigation with Hammerheart: "We are very unhappy with a recent member of their staff who had a very negative influence on Chuck's first CONTROL DENIED album. She also said some really horrible things about Chuck when he was very ill, saying that maybe he would die and they would not have to pay Chuck at all.”

A few days later she retracted that statement. The horrible things said about Chuck were actually said by someone at Nuclear Blast- Chuck’s PREVIOUS label.

And yet, they continued their legal battle. Does this not suggest that they were looking for any pretext at all to get off Hammerheart? I find it suspicious that in both cases they accuse their opponents of saying horrible things about Chuck. I find it difficult to resist some painful inferences about Chuck’s family.

Heijnen’s made a very interesting statement: “Give me my $50,000 back and do as you please with this record.” Hammerheart was a very small label which apparently very nearly went bankrupt as a result of this lawsuit. He was forced to restructure Hammerheart as a new company named Karmageddon records.

Attempting to recover his investment, Heijnen made what was probably a tactical error. He released the instrumental demos of 4 songs, which probably turned the public against him.

From here the lawsuit gets silly. An excerpt.

As for the 70,000 euros — our attorney, Mark Lippman (prior to him, Berry Walker),asked multiple times for cancelled checks where Chuck and/or the band received these funds. All that was ever given to us was a computer printout of these funds, generated by Hammerheart. Not ONE cancelled check, not ONE wire transfer confirmation. Guido (Hammerheart),in the contract with Chuck, committed to advertising in certain publications PRIOR to the album's release, some half-page [ads], some full-page [ads]. Bands that had signed on with Hammerheart prior to and during can attest to the fact that Guido's company was UNABLE financially to fulfill their contractual obligations, thus entering into a contract that they could NEVER fulfill. This is FRAUD.

Guido Heijnen:
Nonsense. Our lawyers and we ourselves have faxed it several times. I have 100% proof that our ABN Amro bank paid Chuck his money: $30,000 on December 20, 2000, $10,000 on November 23, 2000 and another $10,000 on December 23, 2000. It was sent by mail (registered) as well. This is $50,000 which then was 70,000 euros!!! If you calculate interest it would be a lot more by now.

"In these papers we added our contact person at ABN Amro bank with telephone and fax numbers and e-mail contact!!! We did not pay by check — it was a bank transfer (cannot help it if you Americans still pay by check; we do it by electronic banking...). Bethann's lawyers never responded [to] anything.”

One more bit, from singer Tim Aymar: “I knew because I was told directly from Chuck, while he was still well enough to talk to me, that Hammerheart was not a financially stable enough company to handle the bands already on their roster, and they had not been fulling their obligations as far as the promises that had been made. After researching a bit and hearing from some of the artists already on the label, Chuck wanted out of the deal.”

This does not strike me as a very strong foundation. Furthermore, Hammerheart is still around, 15 years later.

In any case, Hammerheart won in court. In 2005 we find in a news story that the Schuldiner family lost their lawsuit and was forced to hand over the tapes. I cannot find anything else about this until 2009, though it is possible that Steve Di Giorgio alluded to this as the period where they briefly lost control of the tracks and they were damaged.

In 2009, Chuck’s former manager, Eric Greif, was rehired to take control of the estate. In 2009, the legal problems with Hammerheart were cleared up, and the band signed with Relapse Records, which led to an extensive rerelease extravaganza. I became a fan during this period. Greif stated in interviews that he was unable to talk about the terms of the settlement with Hammerheart, but I did notice one very interesting tidbit: Guido Heijnen was the European boss for Relapse from 2007-11. Intruiging, no? It looks like the battle with the record label was all for Nothing!

After this, they planned to record. They went into the studio and the lead guitarist was able to complete leads for 3 tracks. The studio was broken into and the band’s equipment stolen (the studio has reopened). The lead guitarist had a heart attack (he has recovered). Various people connected with the band have died, including manager Eric Greif.

This brings us back to the above interview with Steve Di Giorgio. He lists 3 main problems: legal (solved), relearning the songs (preposterous for musicians as talented as this), and technical problems.

Apparently the guitar rhythm and drum tracks are all recorded, but the guitar was recorded on a strange digital machine which has had the files corrupted. According to Greif, it took them six months to extract the files. But they did it, didn’t they? Apparently this presents an insurmountable challenge to the completion of the album, therefore it will never be released.

It is frustrating to put the situation in context. Here you have this musician who spent his entire life continuously overcoming his musical limits, and in the face of death racing to finish his final musical statement, only to die. A pointless legal fight leads to the files becoming very difficult to recover, and his bandmates- many of whom still make a living touring on his music- have given up on finishing that music. What a let down!

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Scotty W

I realized I didn’t say what is likely to happen.

The rerelease campaign for everything else has been very extensive. Maybe not as extensive as what has happened with Kurt Cobain, but still…

Here is what seems to exist:

-4 guitar & drum demo tracks (released)
-A demo of the whole album featuring Chuck doing guide vocals for Tim.
-The entire album’s rhythm tracks recorded by Chuck, and 30% of the leads done. Not sure about drums. Needs the other stuff to be recorded in studio.

None of the latter 2 has ever leaked. I have heard that you can hear excerpts of it in a documentary about Chuck called “Death by Metal”.

Iirc, all the band members have the demos. Eric Greif had them in his living room (he is deceased),Steve Di Giorgio had them on his iPod, and he seemed pretty cavalier about it.

What seems most likely is that the demos with Chuck on vocals will leak eventually, if not be officially released. The possibility that the band or family destroys the tapes is nil. Recall that Virgil, Kafka, Foucault and Nabokov all had their final works published AFTER ordering their executors to destroy.

There are just too many copies of the demos out there for it to never leak.

I have to think about the lead singer. Fate handed him one opportunity in life to make it. He made one album and just wasted the second chance on a greedy lawsuit. This album could have been out in 2002- easy.

As it is, it has been almost 25 years since the first Control Denied album. There is no way his voice is anywhere what it was. Can you imagine if AC/DC tried to record Back in Black in 2005? Ian Gillian was humiliated by the final performances of Child in Time- 25 years later. Maybe his voice is fine, but with no realistic release date in sight, I can only think what a way to let your one shot slide.


Deleting comment. I have no idea howvi posted in the wrong thread. Sorry
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Had never heard about Chuck, Death, Control Denied, or any of this stuff before opening this thread. But I read the whole thing. Thanks for writing such an interesting post OP. I’m not a fan of this type of music in the slightest but I hope for the fans that the lost music is someday found and released.


Nice thread OP, lots of interesting, albeit sad, facts !

What i love the most with Chuck is his ability to challenge himself musically by bring a new (and better) guitarist each new album.
Plus he had a sense of humour, check this Charlie's Angels rendition at the beginning of Pull the plug :messenger_grinning_sweat:

And for those who do not know the great Chuck Schuldiner, here's my personal favorite of his :


Scotty W

Had never heard about Chuck, Death, Control Denied, or any of this stuff before opening this thread. But I read the whole thing. Thanks for writing such an interesting post OP. I’m not a fan of this type of music in the slightest but I hope for the fans that the lost music is someday found and released.

I totally understand about hating this type of music because I did for a long time too.

Here is an instrumental they did. I will admit it will seem strange, but if you think of it as a sonic picture of the title, I think you will appreciate it.


Scotty W

Nice thread OP, lots of interesting, albeit sad, facts !

What i love the most with Chuck is his ability to challenge himself musically by bring a new (and better) guitarist each new album.
Plus he had a sense of humour, check this Charlie's Angels rendition at the beginning of Pull the plug :messenger_grinning_sweat:

And for those who do not know the great Chuck Schuldiner, here's my personal favorite of his :

Much of the final Death album was originally meant to be on the first Control Denied album. There are demos of 3 songs with Chuck attempting clean vocals.

The unreleased demos of the second album are likely similar, though his melodic ability had likely improved.


Much of the final Death album was originally meant to be on the first Control Denied album. There are demos of 3 songs with Chuck attempting clean vocals.

The unreleased demos of the second album are likely similar, though his melodic ability had likely improved.
He had a great clean voice too 😮
Thanks for the infos and discovery my man ! I love learning and discovering new stuff about my favorite artists 😎
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