One of the founders of the genre of death metal was the inimitable band named, simply, Death. Beginning in the late ’80s, this innovative Florida band, headed by legendary Chuck Schuldiner, dominated the death metal scene for a bit more than a decade. Fifteen years ago this month was their final tour, with the unlikely opening act HammerFall, a Swedish power metal band. In fact, fifteen years ago today, on December 2, 1998, I saw Death and HammerFall play live at the Satyricon club in Portland, Oregon, and it remains the single greatest metal club show I ever went to.
Death was just amazing live. I’d never seen them before and I was amazed by their power, enthusiasm and technical precision. The crowds that turned out for this tour were rather unique in the metal world, because death metal and power metal bands rarely combined on the same bill. (In Portland, there was even a black metal band on the ticket–the local band Thy Infernal). The crowd that night was truly energized and added a lot to the power of the show.
It’s sad that this was their final tour. Chuck Schuldiner, remembered by all who knew him as both an amazing talent and a terrific guy, contracted brain cancer only a few months later. He died on December 13, 2001 at the age of 34. The heavy metal world has never quite been the same.
I couldn’t find a YouTube clip of the actual Portland show on December 2. However, I was able to find some video of Death on the same tour, performing in Chicago less than ten days before. The set in Portland would have been much the same. Part one of the concert is at the top of this article. Part two is below. Enjoy and remember.