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Chuck Schuldiner - Zero Tolerance - 49%

Technogoat, January 18th, 2007

It is becoming more and more apparent within the Metal world that certain record labels seemingly have nothing better to do than cash in on an almost infinite list of departed artists, most likely hoping that bands' reputations will sell what are often lacklustre and greedy compilation albums. Karmageddon Media (formerly Hammerheart Records) are one of the biggest offenders of this crime, with constant reissues of albums released under the Hammerheart monicker being churned out and often advertised as 'new and improved' versions. With regard to "Zero Tolerance", it is blatantly obvious that the label, unable to obtain the rights to release Chuck Schuldiner's second Control Denied album, simply rushed together a collection of early Death material and some Control Denied instrumental rehearsals with the hope of essentially ripping of the legions of Chuck's loyal fans.

The history of this release is surrounded by controversy, mainly regarding the untimely death of Chuck Schuldiner in 2001. After Karmageddon Media's continuing battles with the Schuldiner family over the release of the second Control Denied album (which are documented briefly in the booklet of this album) the label was eventually forced to give in and leave the family with the controlling rights to the sophomore record. Unfortunately however, rather than leave the situation alone, Karmageddon saw fit to release this entirely distasteful compilation against the family's wishes.

Both musically and visually, the release is truly substandard throughout. The four untitled Control Denied instrumental rehearsals are of a poor recording quality, most likely as Chuck never intended for these demos to be heard by fans of the band. Behind the demo sound, the music does genuinely show potential but, without the fantastic emotionally charged vocal talents of Schuldiner and lacking in any bass tracks, these demos set an entirely mediocre standard for the rest of the album. Furthermore, the following six songs from Death's "Infernal Death" and "Mutilation" demos are, quite unsurprisingly, bland and extremely poorly recorded standard Death Metal tracks; a style which Death, in their creative prime, would eventually move away from, leading to their status as pioneers and forefathers of the entire genre. Tracks like "Archangel" and "Zombie Ritual" really only serve the purpose of observing the primitive origins of the band and many fans of Death are more than likely to have already tracked down these early demos, hence their rarity is questionable. As far as packaging goes, the listener is presented with a thin black booklet, containing a long-winded statement of intent from Karmageddon Media. There are no band photographs, there is no line up information - there is simply nothing to compensate for this blatant lack of effort on behalf of the label.

Truthfully, this compilation album is a very poor representation of the genius of Chuck Schuldiner and certainly does not serve as a fitting tribute to his legendary musical career. Even those fanatical about Death and Control Denied should approach this poorly constructed album with caution and justifiable cynicism.

Originally written for http://www.blastwave.co.uk