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Control Denied - The Fragile Art of Existence Review

by Matt Hensch

Control Denied was formed when Death singer/guitarist Chuck Schuldiner joined forces with Psycho Scream singer Tim Aymar and other members in 1995. A few line-up changes finalized the band's members as Schuldiner, Aymar, Shannon Hamm, Richard Christy and Steve DiGiorgio. Control Denied recorded two small demos in 1996 before their only album in 1999. The album, The Fragile Art of Existence, was the final album before Chuck died in 2001. There has been a lot of crazy stuff going on since Chuck's death regarding a new album, but this is the only Control Denied record thus far and probably the only one ever. - Matt Hensch
Chuck Schuldiner was a man of many faces. Before his unfortunate death in 2001, the Death leader had slowly altered the music and lyrics of his main project into a semi-progressive death metal outfit during their last string of albums. The musical evolution throughout Chuck's career is simply astonishing to witness, but the ideas and concepts made in the second stage of Death carried on with Chuck when he formed Control Denied. Featuring fellow members of Death and Psycho Scream, Control Denied embarked on a metallic journey that showed the other side of these fine musicians. The band's first and only record, The Fragile Art of Existence, piles the magical talent and poetic ideas of Control Denied into a great tower of majestic wonder.

To swallow the nature of this album, one must get a clear understanding of its sound. Control Denied can be labeled a technical power metal band, meaning they follow the standards of power metal while playing on a higher level of complexity. Tim Aymar's vocal style reflects the singing norms of power metal due to his high-flying voice and fantastic notes. With the exception of Aymar, each member demonstrates the technical chemistry of Control Denied. The bass, guitar, and drums are always swaying into multiple patterns revolving around slow sections and fast pulses of speed. In comparison to other power metal bands, this album contains more complex attributes while sounding like a traditional group in the genre.

The shredding duo of Death partners Chuck Schuldiner and Shannon Hamm is just asking for a bucket of ownage. The axemen unceasingly weave a tornado of technical riffs and perform the cluster of complex guitar work with precise excellence. The slower parts of this record are focused on deep, twisting melodies whilst the thrash and semi-melodic influences appear when speed becomes relevant, and swift chops begin to drive the musical enjoyment. The riffs are heavy, epic, and catchy; basically all the mandatory stuff that defines power metal. The soloing endeavor delivered by Schuldiner and Hamm is reasonably one of the best efforts I've ever heard. The whole block of solos in this album is incredibly technical and slides perfectly into the wonderful rhythm sections without any flaws. There is no bad shredding moments, but rather a roaring monster of guitar supremacy worth hearing again and again.

Steve DiGiorgio's role as the band's bass player is certainly one of the album's best qualities due to his abnormal style and technical fills. DiGiorgio's bass performance is totally crazy and spastic, yet it matches the complex musicianship of Control Denied magnificently. When DiGiorgio isn't matching the riffs, he's wallowing in his own world of flamboyant voodoo that supports its life with nimble flicks and semi-soloing technicality; whenever DiGiorgio gets the chance to go crazy on his bass, he does. My favorite part of this record appears during "Expect the Unexpected" when DiGiorgio slides a quick triple-note dash underneath Hamm's solo; it practically diverts the attention to the bass rather than the solo itself!

Overall, Control Denied deals an epic stash of technical metal that delivers the goods from start to finish. The Fragile Art of Existence remains a mind-blowing relic from my perspective because it's such a divine example of Schuldiner's raw talent and his universal love for metal. Though the musical experience is simply heavenly, the fact remains Control Denied's debut was the last offering by Schuldiner before his untimely death in 2001. Though Chuck has passed on, this final monument truly proves he isn't just one of metal's most legendary figures, but an individual who rightfully earns to be declared one of the greatest musicians of all time.

How to get: You should be able to find this one easily. Check your local CD stores. If you can't find it, tons of online distributions will carry it. (see buy link below)

Fun Facts:
Control Denied are rumored to have recorded parts to a new album that was placed on hold after Chuck's death.

The album still might be released, but problems with record labels and the whole deal have placed its release on hiatus.

Richard Christy now works on the Howard Stern show.

CD Info and Links

Control Denied - The Fragile Art of Existence


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