"The Fragile Art of Existence" (Nuclear Blast)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

After hearing Death for the first time I had to get the Control Denied's "The Fragile Art Of Existence." This disc is the more progressive style of music that Chuck Schuldiner has been working on (and off) for the last few years. Death, and death metal, purists may take exception to Chuck's new direction with Control Denied, but there is simply too much quality music here to dismiss the band on other people's impressions.

"The Fragile Art Of Existence" is not a repeat of the previous Death disc ("The Sound Of Perseverance") - this disc is a major step forward.  Schuldiner skillfully arranges the songs for maximum impact, adds progressive elements, introduces cleaner vocals, and incorporates engineering and production features to provide depth and substance. The result is high quality metal in which nothing is compromised. 

Control Denied's pacing is slower than Death's most recent effort; however, this is a impressive move as the slower pace allows Schuldiner and the gang to include a variety of rhythmic tempos and emotional moods. Even traditional sounding metal riffs are twisted into interesting forms; "Breaking The Broken" and "When The Link Becomes Missing" are examples. The extended guitar solos are a welcome addition; "What If..." and "Believe" are clear testimonies to the power of heavy metal solos. To top it all off, the rhythm section varies from double-time insanity to slow intricacies. 

Tim Aymar's cleaner vocal style is a welcome change. At times he echoes other singers (Ray Alder on "Consumed" and a Dickinson/Halford hybrid on "Expect The Unexpected"), but overall he comes across with a perfect sound for the band. Chuck Schuldiner and Shannon Hamm blaze away on extended guitar solos. The rhythm section of Steve DiGiorgio (ex-Death now of Testament) and Richard Christy are tight and innovative. The lyrics are simply some of the best thought provoking words put to songs in the last few years - this is very challenging material. 

Simply put "The Fragile Art Of Existence" is now one of my favorite records of 1999. For me, it combines the best of the progressive excellence of Fates Warning's (i.e. "Perfect Symmetry") with Death's extreme style. 

"The Fragile Art Of Existence" was produced by Jim Morris and Chuck Schuldiner. The artwork in the package by Travis Smith is stellar. 

Control Denied is Chuck Schuldiner on guitar, Shannon Hamm on guitar, Tim Aymar on vocals, Richard Christy on drums, and Steve DiGiorgio on bass. Control Denied is basically the latest incarnation of Death with Steve playing bass instead of Scott Clendenin and Tim singing in place of Chuck. 

For more information visit Control Denied's webpage at Nuclear Blast America's website; please click to and maneuver your way towards Control Denied.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 09 Dec 2018 12:03:11 -0500 .