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Death: Spiritual Healing (Deluxe Relapse Reissue/Remaster)

Relapse Records has done a great job with their reissue/remaster series of some of the great Death back catalog, and the latest is their often overlooked but still tremendous 1990 effort Spiritual Healing. Coming after the groundbreaking early death metal/thrash classics Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy but before the move into progressive/technical death metal mastery with Human, Spiritual Healing sort of combines both of these worlds into one exciting and powerful extreme metal statement. Chuck Schuldiner, as he seemed to do quite frequently throughout the career of this band, changed line-ups for this album to include new co-lead guitarist James Murphy along with returning bassist Terry Butler and drummer Bill Andrews. Both Butler & Andrews were serviceable and helped anchor the music, but obviously Schuldiner on later efforts went for more skilled players as Death's music took on a more demanding & intricate style. Murphy however adds a virtuoso lead presence here that works well alongside Schuldiner's more savage yet also fast growing technique.

By the time this album was released in 1990, Chuck's songwriting skills were really coming into their own, as songs such as "Living Monstrosity", "Altering the Future", "Within the Mind" (just listen to those crushing riffs and tasty harmony lead guitars!) and the title track are flat out smashing examples of melodic death/thrash metal. The riffs are heavy, at times slightly technical, the lead work precise, the rhythms pounding, and Chuck's perfectly understandable growls became some of the best in the business here."Killing Spree", which closes out the album, mixes in some complex passages amidst its furious death 'n' thrash metal, perhaps signaling what was soon to come from the band on their next release Human. By that time, Death had a completely new look, as Schuldiner sacked the entire band and brought in a completely new line-up. Relapse has done a great job on this reissue, as the album sounds quite good, though I'll leave it up to you to decide how much better it sounds compared to the 1999 Century Media release, which sounded pretty damn good too.

On the 2 disc edition which we were given to review, the second CD contains some alternate and instrumental takes, as well as some studio jams, none of which are actually 'essential' but for the die-hard fans certainly something of interest. The "Satanic Jam" is pretty manic, featuring furious riffing, Chuck's garbled growls, and some violent blast beats, while the silly "Primus Jam" sees the band grooving in a death metal/funk/jam style. There is also a limited 3CD edition containing a third disc featuring a live set recorded in 1990 in New Rochelle, NY, which is no doubt the one to seek out (see track listing below for info on that 3rd disc).

For the casual Death fan who perhaps only jumped on board with the more progressive Human, Symbolic, Individual Thought Patterns, or The Sound of Perseverance releases, don't make the mistake of missing out on this gem, which was the logical stepping stone towards that high point in their career.

Track Listing
Disc 1
Spiritual Healing - Remastered
1 Living Monstrosity
2 Altering The Future
3 Defensive Personalities
4 Within The Mind
5 Spiritual Healing
6 Low Life
7 Genetic Reconstruction
8 Killing Spree

Disc 2
Spiritual Healing - Rehearsals
1 Altering The Future
2 Defensive Personalities
3 Within The Mind
4 Within The Mind - Take 2
5 Spiritual Healing
6 Killing Spree

Spiritual Healing - Studio Instrumentals
7 Defensive Personalities
8 Spiritual Healing
9 Within The Mind

Joke / Jam Tracks
10 Satanic Jam
11 Primus Jam
12 Jon a Qua - Take 2
13 Jon a Qua - Take 3
14 Jon a Qua - Take 4
15 Jon a Qua - Take 5
16 Jon a Qua - Take 6

Disc 3
Live at Streets, New Rochelle, NY March 17th, 1990
1 Living Monstrosity
2 Pull The Plug
3 Zombie Ritual
4 Spiritual Healing
5 Left To Die
6 Defensive Personalities
7 Genetic Reconstruction
8 Open Casket
9 Within The Mind
10 Leprosy

Unearthed Pre-Human Rehearsals
11 Suicide Machine
12 Together As One
13 See Through Dreams

Added: December 12th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Death @ Relapse Records
Hits: 3426
Language: english

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