Here's an example of early Death from 1988's Leprosy album. It's plodding, heavy and eerily catchy. Note Schuldiner's almost tortuous vocal delivery. It remains one of the most distinctive in extreme metal today, the "Chuck voice."
Here's later an example of the more progressive/technical later era Death from 1993's Individual Thought Patterns.
Chuck died on December 13, 2001 from complications of brain cancer. He was 34 years old. I was still a Padawan metal head at this point so Chuck's passing wasn't that big of a deal to me then. When I eventually discovered the awesomeness that was Death, I felt great sadness regarding his premature end. It wasn't until recent years that I began to feel anger regarding Chuck's death.
Chuck Schuldiner was not a wealthy man. Like most extreme metal musicians, you might have categorized him as a "starving artist." Needless to say, he did not have health insurance. Chuck was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor in 1999 and although it nearly bankrupted his family, managed to successfully battle his cancer. Two year later his cancer returned and despite the fact that he was now insured, his HMO initially stalled on urgently needed treatment due to his preexisting condition, his original brain tumor. Chuck eventually received chemotherapy but died of pneumonia as a result of his weakened immune system from his treatment.
I know it's kind of ironic that the frontman of a band called Death would pass away at such a young age, but that makes Chuck's death no less tragic. He wasn't murdered or taken by some freak accident. He was a citizen of the wealthiest nation on Earth who slowly rotted away due to lack of medical care. Was his death the insurance companies (or anybody's) fault? No...but they sure didn't rush to help him in his time of need either. This knowledge of Chuck's final days, and the fact that there are so many others in America in similar situations nearly a decade later is what upsets me now.
This past summer Adam Darski aka: Nergal, the frontman for modern day death metal heroes Behemoth, announced he was battling leukemia and was in need of a bone marrow transplant. Luckily, Darski has apparently found a match and is receiving treatment in his native Poland...where universal healthcare is available to its citizens. Darksi will turn 34 in June. Hopefully he lives a long and fruitful life well past his 30's. Chuck wasn't so lucky.