CONTROL DENIED — The Fragile Art of Existence

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CONTROL DENIED - The Fragile Art of Existence cover
4.28 | 35 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1999

Tracklist

1. Consumed (7:24)
2. Breaking the Broken (5:41)
3. Expect the Unexpected (7:17)
4. What if...? (4:29)
5. When the Link Becomes Missing (5:17)
6. Believe (6:10)
7. Cut Down (4:50)
8. The Fragile Art of Existence (9:38)

Total Time: 50:49

Line-up/Musicians

- Charles "Chuck" Schuldiner / guitars
- Tim Aymar / Vocals
- Richard Christy / Drums
- Steve DiGiorgio / Bass
- Shannon Hamm / Guitars

About this release

Full-length, Nuclear Blast, May 13th, 1999

Re-released in 2008 by Metal Mind Productions remastered on golden disc in digipack format. Limited to 2000 copies.

Re-released in 2010 by Relapse Records with a bonus CD with extra tracks and demo recordings

Produced by Jim Morris & Chuck Schuldiner at Morrisound Studios, Tampa FL.
Engineered, Mixed and mastered by Jim Morris
Music and lyrics by Chuck Schuldiner
Artwork and logo by Travis Smith
Art direction and design by Chuck Schuldiner & Travis Smith
Band photos by Alex McKnight

Thanks to UMUR, The Angry Scotsman for the updates

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CONTROL DENIED THE FRAGILE ART OF EXISTENCE reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

Warthur
Chuck Schuldiner is most famous in metal circles for his work with death - and rightly so - but Control Denied's sole completed album was actually his studio swansong. The Control Denied project was an exercise by Chuck in taking the chops and aggression he had honed over his years in Death and using it in a progressive metal framework taking a sort of death-tinged power metal style as the foundation of the group's sound.

It's an intriguing experiment, and broadly speaking it works out well. With a number of Death and ex-Death members onboard, there was a risk that this would have just been a Death album with clean vocals, but the differing musical approach allows the album to stand as a record of a somewhat different side of Chuck's creativity, and we can all be grateful that he and the crew got it on record before we lost him.
Conor Fynes
'The Fragile Art Of Existence' - Control Denied (8/10)

Towards the end of his legendary musical career and life, Chuck Schuldiner sought to shift gears a bit from the death metal he had been doing since his teens. Granted, his brand of death had changed drastically over the years, but there was only so much the man could do with Death. Clean vocals were something that would not have gone over well with Death's fanbase, so Chuck formed a new band to fulfil this dimension of his music. Control Denied only put out one album before Chuck passed away, but it has stood the test of time, and has even been met with love by the extreme metal crowds. Although Control Denied shows Chuck Schuldiner venturing into progressive power metal territory, there is little difference besides this and prog-era Death barring the fact that clean vocals now lead the music. In other words; this was Chuck beyond Death.

From the very first few seconds of 'The Fragile Art Of Existence', it is clear that this is Chuck Schuldiner's work. The music is incredibly similar to what Death was doing with their final three albums, particularly 'The Sound Of Perseverance'. It could be said that Control Denied is more of a band-centric effort however, with a much heavier bass presence than was heard with Death. The style of composition is definitely by Chuck's own hand and in his distinctive style, with plenty of room for technical riffs, dark hooks, and space for his signature guitar solos. Although Chuck is seen as a death metal guitarist, it is interesting to see how much differently the style he plays can sound with only changing the vocal style. Performed here by Tim Aymar, he has an intensely technical voice that isn't afraid to shriek out. Aymar's vocals are much like Rob Halford of Judas Priest; a band that Chuck was very fond of. Aymar evidently has an impressive range, although he generally sticks to the higher end of the spectrum. Many of the vocal passages he pulls off here are as technical as Chuck's guitar work.

Although there are clean vocals here, they are actually used quite similarly to how Chuck used his own voice in Death. They have great range to them, but they tend to go for power over melody. Aymar's delivery is always impressive, but the vocal melodies are less convincing than the epic riffs Chuck and axemate Shannon Hamm are playing. Although Control Denied is fine evidence that Chuck Schuldiner was a man whose musical vision extended beyond the reaches of death metal, the clean vocals do not work as well as Schuldiner's rasp in his music. All the same, Aymar's vocals are impressive, and the instrumentation and songwriting is as impressive as any Death album. It is well-worth checking out for anyone even slightly invested in Chuck's music. Rest in peace!
UMUR
"The Fragile Art of Existence" is the debut and sole full-length studio album by US power/thrash metal act Control Denied. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in May 1999. Relapse Records re-released "The Fragile Art of Existence" in 2010. The re-release features a bonus CD with unreleased demo material. There´s also a 3 Disc deluxe version available.

Death frontman/guitarist Chuck Schuldiner had long wanted to pursue a dream of making a traditional/US power metal album with a clean vocalist as opposed to the technical death metal with growling vocals of his main act. "The Fragile Art of Existence" was as far as I understand his dream come true. "The Fragile Art of Existence" would sadly turn out to be Chuck Schuldiner´s last studio album before his untimely death in 2001, when he succumbed to brain stem cancer.

The music on the album is US power metal played with great technical skill. It´s not far from sounding like the last couple of Death albums but with a clean vocalist instead of a high pitched growling ditto. There are some other differences too though. The tracks are generally quality compositions but there are few highlights on the 8 track, 50:49 minute long album. It´s like the vocal melodies simply aren´t that memorable. The strong chorus in "Expect the Unexpected" is an exception. It´s about the same with the riffs. They are well written but not exceptional. My attention simply wanders at times, which is always a sure sign that something isn´t right.

The technical level of musicianship on the album is high class on all posts. Chuck Schuldiner and his fellow Death collegues, guitarist Shannon Ham and drummer Richard Christy are all very skilled musicians. Especially Richard Christy needs to be mentioned for his phenominal playing. To my ears the man is a drum genious. Steve DiGiorgio (Sadus, Death, Iced Earth...etc.) plays the bass and as always the man cooks up some nice things for us. Tim Aymar is a skilled vocalist, but lacks a distinct voice and vocal delivery. He has a raw yet melodic style singing style which is pretty typical for US power metal vocalists.

The sound production is in line with the last couple of productions by Death, which means the production is professional and well sounding. The demo recordings on the second disc of the re-release features a lower sound quality but they are still decent. If you ask me Chuck Schuldiner didn´t exactly go out on a high, but at least he got to try out his dream of making a more traditional sounding metal/US power metal album and of course I respect that. With a more unique vocalist and stronger and more memorable vocal melodies "The Fragile Art of Existence" might have been a really great album, but as it is now I think a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is fair.
Stooge
Unfortunately, this Control Denied release is the last work released by Chuck Schuldiner during his all-to-brief life. Thankfully, it was with an album that lives up to his reputation as a great metal songwriter.

Pretty much any one of these songs could have been a Death song. Most of the material could be placed on Symbolic or The Sound of Perseverance if Chuck stayed on the mike. Chuck, having grown tired of the vocalist chair, put Death to rest in favor of forming a more traditional heavy metal band. While not really breaking away from his “expected” ways of writing material, this project, with Tim Aymar on vocals, still finds a way to sound different. I’d say it’s a blend of traditional, power, and progressive metal, to be brief.

With Chuck, guitarist Shannon Hamm, bassist Steve Digiorgio, and drummer Richard Christy, you know from a technical standpoint there should be some creative playing throughout the album. Extended instrumental sections on the likes of “Expect the Unexpected” and the title track are great examples of their abilities, not to mention their evident talents within the core of the songs. The production and mix does justice to all four instrumentalists as well.

Aymar, without a doubt, is quite a talented vocalist. I’m not a big fan of some of the shreaky vocal parts he uses on occasion, but they are very much tolerable. Aymar’s voice sounds the best in songs that use his smooth mid range, such as in the verse of “What If…?” and with his harmonized vocals in “Cut Down”, but he’s in control of his voice and is brimming with confidence on each track.

If I were to choose some of my favorite tracks on the album, they would be “Breaking The Broken”, “What If…?”, and “When The Link Becomes Missing”. It’s really a hard call though with the album’s consistency.

For those that shy away from Death due to the vocals, Control Denied makes for a great substitution in your collection. An excellent release, just shy of being essential!!
Time Signature
Expect the Chuck...

Genre: Schuldiner metal

Control Denied is often described as progressive power metal, but personally, I do not really recognize a lot of power metal in this album. It is progressive though, and what I do recognize is a lot of Chuck Schuldiner elements, and in a way, although Control Denied and Death are technically two different entities and we have to respect that, "The Fragile Art of Existence" could be seen as a natural stage of evolution in the musical journey that Chuck too Death on since its inception.

The production sounds a bit like Death's three last albums, and there is a close relationship between "Sound of Perseverance" and Control Denied, as "Perseverance" was released after the inception of Control Denied and even contains some material that was originally written for Control Denied. Also virtually all members of Control Denied, except vocalist Tim Aymar, have served with Death at some point. There are also a lot of typical Chuck Schuldiner trademarks all over the album both in terms of riffage and soloing, and Steve DiGiorgio's insane fretless bass work is recognizable from "Individual Thought Patterns" while both Shannon Hamm and Richard Christie also played on "Sound of Perseverance". But it also differs from Death in that the tracks are longer, slightly more complex, generally slower and then there are clean vocals rather than Chuck's screechy growls.

"The Fragile Art of Existence" is, I think, a very good progressive metal album, and it's unique in the sense that it sounds like Schuldiner music (which is why the connection with Death is so salient) and not like any other type of progressive metal.

All the tracks are extremely good, and there are no fillers whatsoever. And there is good stuff in all tracks. "Breaking the Broken", for instance, contains a massive guitar riff and a bridge with some odd riffs, and then the bass work is outstanding, and there is also a very typical fast Schuldiner riff. "Expect the Unexpected" is another very cool track with some very typical Schuldiner details and a catchy chorus and another sort of quirky riff - again, the bass work is magnificent. "Consumed" and "What If" are both relatively heavy tracks, full of Schuldineresque twists and turns, and "When the Link Becomes Missing" contains a nice mellow acoustic bridge with an insanely shreddy guitar solo. "Believe" is perhaps the most straightforward track on the album as it does not contain a plethora of changes in tempo, but it still rocks, while "Cut Down" contains another interesting bridge, and the title track is a 9 minutes long progressive metal epic with a lot of melody in its riffage.

The reissue from 2010 contains tracks from the Control Denied demos, and there are two tracks ("Breaking the Broken" and "Tune of Evil") that feature Chuck singing in his natural voice, which should appeal to Schuldiner fans. "Tune of Evil" is more of a humorous track with Chuck just playing around. The limited edition 3.disc reissue additionally contains Chuck-fronted demo versions of "Expect the Unexpected", "What If" and "Cut Down".

This album is recommended to fans of progressive metal and fans of Chuck Schuldiner. However, although there are obvious links to Death, do not expect this to be a death metal album (Death fans hoping for another "Symbolic" or "Individual Thought Patterns" might be disappointed).

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