Concert Memories: DEATH, HAMMERFALL @ The Whisky, Hollywood, CA (12/05/98)

Back in 1998 on a cold December night, the legendary DEATH were set to perform at The Whisky. What would eventually become the Apeshit goons were all in attendance for this mandatory show. The band recently released what ended up being their final album, The Sound of Perseverance. This was to be my first (and last) time seeing DEATH and I was excited. This show was recorded and later released as the Live in LA: Death and Raw album.

The Whisky was packed that night with plenty of old school death metal fans. The show was clearly oversold as indicated by the sauna-like conditions inside. Newly born darlings of the metal media, HAMMERFALL, opened the show. Their brand of traditional heavy metal/power metal got them a great reaction from the crowd who was clearly into it. The band took off to bigger (underground) heights in the years to follow before falling back to earth.

We had to wait what seemed like an eternity before the DEATH intro of the Halloween movie theme song came on to the approval of the crowd. I managed to get some prime real estate close to the stage between where Chuck Shuldiner and Scott Clendenin would play from. As soon as DEATH started playing “The Philosopher,” the crowd was energized and totally engaged. This show was about feeling the music instead of trying to act like a tough guy.

Throughout the entire set, the band were on fire, and as you know DEATH songs are not easy to pull off. There was no playful banter or rockstar arena-style attempts to get the crowd excited. It was all about letting the excellent music speak for itself.

Richard Christy‘s double bass drums were so loud and powerful that you could feel the vibrations in your chest.

Chuck performed the songs with his newly utilized high vocal-style. Watching him perform is a memory I’ll always have. He was absolutely amazing, especially when he had to play complex riffs and sing at the same time. He didn’t miss a note. There were a few times when I swear he was staring me straight in the eyes as he was playing. Godly.

After the show, I was drenched in sweat, mostly from others, and left with the type of satisfaction and enjoyment from a show that appears only a few times in life. It’s safe to say that I became a much more devoted fan of the band afterwards.

They played like there was no tomorrow (as every band should) and it is bittersweet to think that this would be one of Chuck‘s final live performances and last show in LA. While the rest of the world can enjoy the show via DVD, it was an otherworldly experience, especially in hindsight, to have been there.

RIP Chuck.

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