Chuck Schuldiner

Zero Tolerance

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Zero Tolerance -- both Karmageddon Media's single-disc version and the two-CD version from Candlelight released in the United States in February 2005 -- has received its share of scathing reviews on metal websites. Those ultra-negative reviews of this collection of rarities by Death and Control Denied (the band that Chuck Schuldiner led during the last few years of his life) had many of the same complaints -- the sound quality is inferior, Schuldiner's talents aren't adequately represented, and he never meant for these recordings to be released commercially. But the fact is that Zero Tolerance exists for the same reason that bootlegs exist: some hardcore collectors are so obsessive that they want to hear anything and everything that the artist ever did. There are the Rolling Stones' fans who will happily pay $65 or more for a three-CD bootleg of the band rehearsing, there are No Doubt fans who are thrilled to have 25 or 30 live performances of "Don't Speak" in their collections, and there are Schuldiner enthusiasts who will welcome Zero Tolerance with open arms despite its obvious shortcomings and limitations. Candlelight's two-disc version ranges from some unfinished Control Denied material that Schuldiner had started working on before his demise from a brain tumor in December 2001 -- primitive demos that were released against the wishes of his family -- to an abundance of Death's '80s demos to some live Death performances from 1990 (all of which suffer from ho-hum sound quality but still manage to capture the band's forceful vitality). Collections of rarities are seldom designed for casual listeners, and Zero Tolerance is no exception. Casual listeners would be much, much better off starting out with a copy of Death's seminal 1987 classic Scream Bloody Gore; Zero Tolerance is strictly for completists and truly hardcore fans, who will find this to be an intriguing collection with some historic value -- shortcomings, inferior sound quality and all.

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