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Control Denied - The Fragile Art Of Existence CD (album) cover


Control Denied

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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4 stars OK... this is a sort of postumous record, the last grasp of air of a great musician. Basically, this band is DEATH with vocals, with a very edgy approach, and a very technical side with a lot of heart. So, let's start with the fact that the record is a lost gem, because of the background (death metal and very agressive music) so many people got shocked, dissapointed, amazed, etc. however, marked the reinstallment of "technical" metal into the USA. So many has complained about the direction Chuck and co. were leading, but since DEATH'S HUMAN, he really pulled a little to achive a greater sound, not just growling but complex ides into the music, helped by CYNIC members Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinart. So after this process, he decided to have a "lighter" version of DEATH adding vocals with a more prog and metal approach, and he really did it, a marvellous exposure of musicianship and heart, sometimes a little elliptical in the song structure, but organical and quite mature. Perhaps the best thing in here is that the musicians has a lot more air and it can be shown throughout the record; one peak point is WHAT IF...? along with the title track. Every part of the record remind you that this is progressive metal, from any point of view, in the rawest form. Records like this are in the eye of the hurricane because of the crossover of the main artist, but let's forget our preconceptions and enjoy music at it's best.
Report this review (#36076)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars OK what can someone say about chuck? the man was ( and still is in our hearts) the father of technical death metal. albums like spiritual healing/leprosy/human/symbolic have marked death metal as sabbath's albums marked heavy metal. when this album wa sreleased i didn't like it. i had to listen it many times to obtain a complete opinion. the album is just great!! it is 100% prog metal and it has many US power metal riffs which make it even more attractive to my ears. the album's title and the band's name are all symbolic. he fought like a lion against cancer but he didn't make it. how ironiic for a man who had a band named death....13.12.01 the day that progressive death metal died. r.i.p chuck.
Report this review (#36177)
Posted Saturday, June 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars You know, this album has been accused for being a traitor of death metal music..That's because Chuck Schuldiner was the leader in the best death metal band on earth and one of the first who the particular style.When Death broke up, he recorded with the members (Steve DiGiorgio (Bass), Shannon Hamm(Guitars), Richard Christy(Drums), Tim Aymar (Vocals)) "The Fragile Art Of Existence" which is closer to Power/Progressive Metal.You can find a lot of Chuck's death metal playing here.This album is the first and the last full recorded by Control Denied.So as death metal players, they did very well.There are any bad songs in this album, if you like the kind of progressive/power with a darker atmosphere you will sure like this one and also, you will realise that they would do a better one because they're full of ideas which they can't take hold.Unfortunately, Chuck Schuldiner who wrote music and lyrics lost his battle with brain tumor on 13th December 2001.Check out all the albums he made with Death..He was a true artist..
Report this review (#44841)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Chuck Schuldiner, what can one say about this man? He was easily one of the best guitar virtuoso's and song writers in the field of metal, and he was practically the sole innovator of Death metal. His beautiful masterpieces are finally starting to get the recognition they rightfully deserve. Chuck Schuldiner is not a name to overlook, or even second guess, this man is the definitive metal god.

Chuck's band "Control Denied," take Death into another voyage of their magnificent legacy. The Fragile Art of Existence is home to many wonderful songs, such as "What If.....?", "When the Link Becomes Missing," "Believe," and "Consumed." There is not a sub-par song on this album, all are masterpieces in their own right, just like Death's album's and songs. Every song on this album is at the musical apex of metal, just as Death's were, Death were the band that consistently pushed the musical apex of metal, where no other band has been able to reach. Some of the highlights are bass virtuoso Steve Digiorgio's work in "What If.......?" where his bass line harmonizes with Chuck's during Chuck's lead. The exceptional drumming of Richard Christy is not one to miss, and Shannon Hamm soars on virtuosic guitar leads. Chuck always got increasingly better with his work, and it's a shame we didn't see him reach his musical height, but we always have the great memories he has given us.

RIP Chuck Schuldiner

Report this review (#59276)
Posted Monday, December 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Control Denied is the woefully short-lived final project from extreme metal visionary Chuck Schuldiner. He almost single-handedly inventing death metal with his brainchild Death. After the movement got off the ground, output from followers of the band such as Morbid Angel expanded on Chuck's basic formula. Chuck liked what he heard and changed Death's musical direction with 1991's Human, which pioneered both technical death metal and progressive death. From there, the albums became increasingly complex until Death's final album The Sound of Perserverance, a metal classic and his most progressive work to date. He took a break from Death to experiment with a traditional metal vocalist. Thus, he formed Control Denied, a side project intended to show the world that he was a progressive musician. He kept Death guitarist Shannon Hamm and drummer Richard Christy and brought back Death alumnus Steve DiGiorgio. Then he found singer Tim Aymar who possessed the range and power necessary to give Chuck's lyrics a new voice. Chuck's lyrics are his most anguished here, a stark contrast to the fury of Sound of Perserverance.

There is no filler on this disc. The opener Consumed shows that Chuck made a wise decision in vocalists and his own lead guitar is still awe-inspiring. Chuck and Shannon complement each other perfectly; each is terrific at what he does. It's nice that as talented as Chuck was as a guitarist, he still allowed others to play lead. He really cared about the music over his ego. Richard Christy doesn't shine as much a he did on SoP, but he's no slouch on this disc. Steve DiGiorgio always impresses, and this is no exception; just listen to him match Chuck's lead in What If. The title track is a monster, clocking in at over 10 minutes.

This isn't as good as the masterpeice that is Death's final album, but it comes close. It's rather jazzy, and should dispel any doubts about Chuck's prog credentials. Sadly, this amazing side-project, as well as Death itself, would end tragically with Chuck's passing due to cancer in December 2001. I've heard that Chuck's sister will release the second Control Denied album by the end of 2007 despite the protests of Chuck's former label- head. I can't wait for a final offering from one of the top 5 most influential musicians in metal.

Grade: B+

Report this review (#107619)
Posted Monday, January 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wow, this kick every one's ass from the first note to the last. 3 members from Death one ex Death (Steve Di Giorgio) and Tim Aymar (not a big name but for sure knows how to sing even the highest notes). So what we have here a solid prog metal with a tones of very good orchestrations, fast and slow riffs and harmonies of the highest calibre. I'm not praising this album in vain, this is a strong and very well played album. Everything is done a la carte. The guitars sound stunning, again Chuck Sculdiner ( voice and guitar of Death) is the master, and he was easily one of the best guitar virtuoso's and song writers in the field of metal, no doubt Death is the example. But now, the drumer Richard Christy is absolute not of this earth, i can't belive my ears when i've listen to him, what this man do with drums, is hard that is 5 drumers in prog metal genre that tops this man, he is fast, he is slow, some parts is so complex that even a well schooled drumer had some hed aches, really is one of a kind. The vocals maybe is the weakest point of the album, and that's why i'm not giving 5 stars. Not bad, but not exceptional either, a usual vocalist in my opinion, the bass is exceptional, Steve DiGiorgio is a skilled musician and needs no introduction So a big 4, and fans of power metal with a lot of prog will "eat" this album, as i did, recommended one of the best from the '90, musicaly speaking is absolute stunning. 4 stars without hesitation, and tracks that are best are Expect the Unexpected and what if..?, the rest are good toobut this 2 pieces kick ass.
Report this review (#138453)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "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.

Report this review (#165492)
Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Edit: Still a good album, but perhaps I was a bit quick to give it 5 stars. It's lasting value hasn't, well, lasted. 4 seems more appropriate, as I don't put it on that often anymore.

I've been listening to this album a fair amount over the past week or so, and I think it's slowly but finally sunk in. Legendary Chuck Schuldiner had planned to start the Control Denied project as a way to further other musical outlets which couldn't be satisfied in his band Death. The Fragile Art of Existence's release was delayed due to the release of Death's The Sound of Perseverance and wasn't available until 1999. But given the quality of this release, such an issue is easily forgiven.

This music is in the style of later Death (think Symbolic and The Sound of Perseverance) but with two distinct differences. There is much more of a power metal influence on TFAoE and Tim Aymar replaces Chuck's screeching vocals. Although this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as Aymar has an incredible range and power to his voice. It really opens up many new doors for where the music is able to flow. As others have said, this is a fairly technical album, but it isn't by any means tech metal. It has a very classic heavy metal sound, which should be something fans of such music would enjoy. To really add some icing to the cake, this album has no filler as far as I'm concerned. Ever single track opens itself up and sounds very unique to my ears. Except for the vocalist, everyone else on the album was either a current or ex-Death band member, and each one of course makes the songs sound very Death-like. But the real treat comes from the way Chuck and former Death bassist Steve DiGiorgio really play off of each other on here. If you need proof, listen to the intro for the songs What If...? or Expect the Unexpected. Man, that's some really high-quality stuff right there.

I'm really tempted to give this 5 stars, and the lack of filler and excellent guitar and bass duels really makes it hard not to. Therefore, this is in my eyes a masterpiece of progressive metal. Highly recommended to fans of Death and those who enjoy technical metal that doesn't necessarily need to be flashy.

Report this review (#224173)
Posted Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars So here it is, the final offering from the late Chuck Schuldiner. Soon after disbanding Death on a high with the release of 1998s The Sound of Perseverance, his new project, Control Denied, release their debut album. It would turn out to be their only release, as Schuldiner's struggle with brain stem cancer came to an unfortunate end not long after. There are, however, rumours that their second release was almost completed with Chuck working on it up until his death. Unfortunately, it hasn't yet been released, until then, we have Fragile Art of Existence, and it's a monster of an album.

Moving away from the mic, Schuldiner brings in Tim Aymar for a melodic vocal injection into the new sound. Aymar's fusion of Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford provides an interesting listen, and an impressive performance ranging from high screeches and great melodic vibratos. The legendary Steve DiGiorgio returns to the bass (formerly appearing on the Death albums Human and Individual Thought Patterns), along with some other familiar faces. The aim was to maintain the heaviness of Death and to move towards a more melodic style that Schuldiner states wasn't possible with his previous band. The result is an almost Dream Theater style of progressive metal, with essences of the musicality found on Death's final two albums.

The album gets off to a superb start, Consumed is one of Schuldiner's finest compositions; a lengthy opener at over seven minutes that includes all the technical riffage expected, with new vibrant spices. One element present is the guitar soloing, which takes on a more experimental strand than before. The combined axes of Shannon Hamm and Chuck come together brilliantly, just listen to the power of the two solos in the opening number as the tempo plummets and the wails and screeches are let loose. Perhaps now away from the mic, Schuldiner has taken more notice of his guitar tone.

The album moves on to a heavy second number, Breaking the Broken demonstrating the masterful riffage we all know from Death combined with the Halford-esque screeches of Aymar. Mid-song changes are sprinkled all around, such as a sudden acoustic morph during the middle of When the Link Becomes Missing. This dramatic alternation can be hard to pull off, yet as with The Sound of Perseverance, it all comes together expertly.

Lyrically, the album becomes even more interesting. Schuldiner's words possibly reflecting what was happening in his life at the time and his struggle with cancer. 'Once I was free, now I am trapped' is one example during Consumed, and the epic title track has the muttering words 'No time for self pity?no time for dwelling on what should have been'. Even the titles of the tracks: Expect the Unexpected, When the Link Becomes Missing, Cut Down and the name of the album itself, back up this claim.

Control Denied got off to a flying start, and this album doesn't get the gratification it deserves. The future looked very bright indeed for the band and Chuck, however, despite starting to recover from cancer, Chuck Schuldiner died of pneumonia in 2001, R.I.P the grandfather of death metal.

Top Three Tracks:

1) Consumed 2) Breaking the Broken 3) When the Link Becomes Missing

Report this review (#254605)
Posted Sunday, December 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars 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 took 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).

(review originally posted on

Report this review (#386155)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars '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!

Report this review (#609328)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars 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.

Report this review (#1595893)
Posted Monday, August 8, 2016 | Review Permalink

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