Death is one of my favorite metal bands. It would be tough to overstate their impact on me. When my band formed, the first thing we did was learn a Death cover—“Crystal Mountain.” We still play it live sometimes.
I was 14 years old when Chuck Schuldiner passed away, and had only just become aware of his band. Death immediately entered the pantheon of great bands I’d never see live. A Death tour without Chuck was unthinkable, and rightly so.
It remains unthinkable today, but people in my position now have an opportunity to see the next best thing. Sick Drummer Magazine and Perseverance Holdings Ltd.—which represents Chuck’s sister Beth and her son, heirs to his intellectual property—have assembled a live tribute tour called Death To All 2012. It features an impressive lineup of former Death members: Gene Hoglan and Sean Reinert on drums; Steve DiGiorgio and Scott Clendenin on bass; and Paul Masvidal, Shannon Hamm, and Bobby Koelble on guitars.
The tour will visit San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and Orlando. Other details remain sketchy. No word on content yet; the press relief says only that the tour will “celebrate the life and music of Chuck Schuldiner.” No vocalist has been announced either—a crucial detail, as Chuck’s voice helped define Death’s sound. I suspect that the tour’s “special guests” will be a rotating stable of renowned vocalists.
I’m conflicted about the prospects for this tour. The next best thing to seeing Death is still pretty far from actually seeing Death. Chuck’s spot onstage will be painfully empty, no matter the star power of the tour’s contributors. The vacant vocal slot is also cause for concern. A bad pick could ruin the experience, and death metal has no shortage of mediocre vocalists.
But I’d go see this lineup no matter what music they were playing. As it happens, they’re playing some of the best metal songs ever written. And it’s for an excellent cause: Sweet Relief, a charitable foundation that offers financial support to uninsured musicians who have been struck with serious illness. Given the circumstances of his death, Chuck would approve. And that’s good enough for me.
. . .
DEATH TO ALL 2012 TOUR DATES:
6/22/2012 – The Regency Ballroom – San Francisco, CA
6/23/2012 – House of Blues – Los Angeles, CA
6/26/2012 – House of Blues – Chicago, IL
6/28/2012 – Irving Plaza – NYC, NY
6/30/2012 – The Beacham – Orlando, FL