[New York, NY] It certainly has been a busy couple of years for legendary metal band Death, a group that was supposedly buried along with founder and principal player Chuck Schuldiner back in 2001.
And then there was also the announcement on the band’s official website that Perseverance Holdings – the controlling entity overseeing Schuldiner’s musical estate – had struck a deal with Roadrunner Records to allow Death’s entire catalog to be part of a “monster” 14-disc box set.
That particular monster is due to crush the Earth sometime in 2013.
And that’s on top of a slew of recent multidisc album re-issues packed with bonus material such as demos and live tracks.
Now perhaps the greatest possible re-issue is coming to Florida: a live “reunion” celebrating the influential life and amazing music of Schuldiner.
Billed as the “Death To All Tour 2012″ and featuring 7 former members of the group and a gaggle of special guests, this limited-run set of star-packed shows has already wowed the West Coast and Chicago, and is set to storm the Big Apple tonight.
“It was really good … we got off to a good start,” said Orlando-based guitarist Bobby Koelble of the tour’s first stop (June 22) in San Francisco. “The crowd was great … very energetic, receptive. … The venue was really awesome, it was this old kind of historic place.”
The Berklee-trained Koelble, interviewed exclusively by Sunshine Slate, played on Death’s 1995 release Symbolic as well as toured the world with the band that is considered to be the founding fathers of the still-popular death metal genre.
1995 Death album Symbolic
Now he was speaking via cell phone from the streets of New York just minutes before joining his brethren for a sound check of show number four of the tour.
But possibly the biggest show of them all is the final show scheduled for Saturday, June 30, in Orlando at The Beacham. Why is it so special? Death was birthed in Central Florida and was Schuldiner’s home until his untimely passing due to cancer.
Making the show even more special is that it will be the last show of this current run as the last two shows originally scheduled for the mini-tour (Dallas and Atlanta) have been postponed until (maybe) February or March of next year, according to Koelble (although he says that nothing is in stone).
The postponements can be seen as a bad news/good news situation as that may mean that whole crew will fire up the tour buses for another tour next year.
“Hopefully, that’s the plan,” said Koelble, a veteran of nearly 100 live Death shows. “I can’t really definitively say that yet. But that is hopefully what we’re looking at – is another run similar to this as soon as Gene becomes available. He’s gonna be busy doing Dethklok and Testament.”
The Gene he is talking about is in-demand drummer Gene Hoglan, often referred to as “The Atomic Clock” for his thunderously acurate metal playing style. Hoglan played with Koelble on Symbolic as well as backing Schuldiner on 1993′s Individual Thought Patterns.
Hoglan was also instrumental is getting this whole tour together along with a couple of dudes from Sick Drummer Magazine.
Death’s Chuck Schuldiner back in 1995
“Pretty much the guys that got this whole thing organized … [I'm] happy to be on board,” says Koelble, who is still a professional guitarist and teacher (how’s Adjunct Jazz Guitar Professor at the University of Central Florida and at Rollins College?) that is seemingly always gigging in and around the Orlando area.
Koelble is looking forward to the Orlando show – not only is it where he lives, but he also played his very first show with Death there at the infamous one-time heavy music hotspot The Fairbanks Inn (which is no longer in existence, so don’t bother looking).
“That was our warm-up show to get the ball rolling before we went on to do that festival tour of Europe,” recalls Koelble.
And, fittingly, the shows are a benefit for Sweet Relief, a charity that provides financial help to career musicians faced with illness, disability or age-related problems – and no insurance (a common problem).
Participating in these tribute/reunion shows will be:
- Gene Hoglan – drums (Individual Thought Patterns/Symbolic)
- Sean Reinert -drums (Human)
- Steve DiGiorgio – bass (Human/Individual Thought Patterns)
- Scott Clendenin -bass (The Sound of Perseverance)
- Paul Masvidal – guitar (Human)
- Shannon Hamm – guitar (The Sound of Perseverance)
- Bobby Koelble – guitar (Symbolic)
There are two guys playing the “role” of Chuck Schuldiner on the Death To All Tour 2012: Charles Elliott (Abysmal Dawn) and Matt Harvey (Exhumed). Harvey was a late-in-the-game replacement for Obscura’s Steffen Kummerer who had problems securing a travel visa in time.
1995 Death line-up: (L-R) Gene Hoglan, Kelly Conlon, Chuck Schuldiner, Bobby Koelble
“There we a couple of last-minute changes … we had to scramble,” admits Koelble, who says Harvey – who handles the later Death material while Elliott shreds the early stuff – came in like champ on such short notice.
“We rehearsed for three days. It was nostalgic and new and exciting at the same time. We worked pretty hard and had some long days, got everything together. By that first show in San Francisco we had everything up and running.”
Initial reports are that the both the set list and the overall live show are spectacular. With such an amazing line-up of musicians, is there a chance we may see a live album coming out of all of this?
“I believe we are going to be recording audio at the Orlando show,” said Koelble. “I had heard something about possibly recording video tonight [in New York] – I’m not sure if that’s happening or not … I’ll find that out when I get in there. … What’s going to become of that I don’t know.”
Either way, the legal work and licensing would be a nightmare with so many people from so many different bands (including guest shredder Alex Skolnick from Testament at the New York show).
But you know what? It would be all worth it – Death, formed in 1983 by guitarist-vocalist Schuldiner established the sound of death metal through groundbreaking demo recordings, official studio releases and skull-crushing live shows.
The band’s debut 1987 splatter platter, Scream Bloody Gore, is considered to be “death metal’s first archetypal document” as well as “the first true death metal record.” And at 2 million albums sold overall worldwide (and counting), Death is the top-selling death metal band on planet Earth.
Peep the tour website here.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Lead image: Death To All Tour 2012