During a recent conversation with Andrew McKaysmith of the "Scars And Guitars" podcast, veteran drummer Gene Hoglan (TESTAMENT, DARK ANGEL, DETHKLOK, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD) discussed his time in the pioneering metal band DEATH, with whom he played from 1993 to 1995.
"Chuck [Schuldiner] was very open-minded, and he was into having his musicians that were playing with him just reach out for the best stuff that they had," Hoglan said. "Every time I'd come up with some crazy beat, he'd be like, ' I'm good. I can play my riffs over your beats, so if that's the one you want, go with it. Go sick; go nuts. I'm good over here, so you keep doing your thing.' In that regard, Chuck was always a real pleasure to work with in that way. You had no handcuffing whatsoever — and it was pretty apparent [that] nobody handcuffed me on the drums. I played everything on 'Symbolic'. There definitely is some overplaying, [but] he never said, 'Hey, don't play that,' or, 'That's not working.' The only time I remember anything like that happening was two different times. One was in the 'Individual Thought Patterns' sessions, and that's where [producer] Scott Burns, while I was tracking 'Jealousy', I remember Scott saying, 'Hey, man. I'm not feeling that beat. Maybe can you simplify it?' I was like, 'Yeah, no problem.' Then on 'Symbolic', [producer] Jim Morris had pretty much said the same thing — like, 'I'm not sure about that one.' What was funny was, on the beat that Jim Morris said 'That's not happening,' it was a beat I robbed from Sean Reinert. It was something off of 'Human'... as for Chuck, he was always real gracious, like, 'Yeah, man. Do your thing. It's going to be great.
"Chuck was a pretty complex guy," Hoglan continued. "Some days, certain things would affect him that might not affect you or I... Chuck did not have a lot of trust for the music industry. I understand that — I get that, totally... He was generally real cool to work with, and we had a good time up until he had to make the moves that he had to make in order to keep himself sane. When he had to put DEATH aside after the 'Symbolic' album, he broke DEATH up, and he had to move forward. The best way for Chuck to move forward was the statement that was CONTROL DENIED."
Hoglan also discussed how 1995's "Symbolic" was initially received. "The hardcore death metal fan, the attitude was very pervasive throughout the scene — 'What the fuck happened to DEATH?' Chuck did not care, and I appreciate that absolutely," Hoglan said. "That's the way I am. I play music for me. If you guys enjoy it, that's a bonus, but it's not going to make me stop playing music if nobody cares and I'm the only one who does. I'm still going to play music, and that's kind of the way Chuck was. He was a very brave person. He could have just gone the safe route and put out another 'Scream Bloody Gore' or 'Leprosy'. He had to go with how he was feeling. Any true musician can appreciate that, absolutely."
Hoglan joined DEATH in 1993. He replaced Sean Reinert, who — along with guitarist Paul Masvidal — quit the band to focus on CYNIC. He appears on the group's albums "Individual Thought Patterns" and "Symbolic".