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Death: Leprosy (remastered/Special Edition)

The name Death is synonymous with the birth of Floridian death metal. On their sophomore release, 1988's Leprosy, the band took their extreme mix of Metallica & Slayer influences, which was in full force on their debut Scream Bloody Gore, and not only made it even more brutal, but more refined as well, if you can imagine. Such was the creation of what we now call technical & progressive death metal. Way heavier than thrash, upping the brutality factor considerably, but also adding a complexity to the arrangements as well as evil, growling vocals. Other bands would pop up alongside Death, such as Obituary, Morbid Angel, and Atheist, but it's generally Chuck Schuldiner & crew who are remembered as the band that got this sub-genre of metal started. Leprosy was produced by Dan Johnson, and engineered by Scott Burns, who would go on to work with many metal acts on the growing Florida extreme scene at Morrisound Recording studio in Tampa. Relapse Records, as part of their superb Death reissue campaign, is now making this album available in a 3CD set, complete with a remastered version of Leprosy, along with rehearsal recordings and live tracks.

I can still remember buying Leprosy on vinyl back in 1988; it was a time when heavy metal was starting to take a turn towards more extreme avenues, the thrash scene growing more brutal and the term 'death metal' was starting to be heard in the underground. Scream Bloody Gore was a kick in the teeth, and then you have songs here like "Pull the Plug", "Open Casket", "Leprosy", "Forgotten Past", and "Choke On It", each one featuring monstrous riffing, manic drumming, and Schuldiner's violent, growling vocal attack. The lead guitar work from Chuck and Rick Rozz took the fiery, manic style of Slayer to another level, as whammy bar dives and blazing tremolo picked speedy runs gave new meaning to shredding. Bassist Terry Butler and drummer Bill Andrews also did their part, delivering pounding rhythms that got your blood pumping and neck thrashing, especially on the raging "Left to Die". And, of course there are the lyrics, which are centered on horror themes and not for the faint of heart. Toss in that classic cover artwork from Edward Repka, and you have a classic album from Death, a band that would continue to grow and mature from here, eventually becoming one of the most beloved extreme acts of all time. The early Death albums were never the best sounding recordings, but this version has been given new life by Alan Douches, who has done a fantastic job on the remastering.

For the loyal fan, there's a wealth of bonus material on the 3CD edition, including early rehearsal tracks from September & December 1987, that, despite the subpar quality, show these songs in their formative stages as the band was working them out. Some really punishing stuff here, like the brutal take on "Open Casket", as the band just crank it out mercilessly without vocals. Over on the third disc, you get live tracks from Backstreets in Rochester, New York (December 13, 1988) and The Dirt Club in Bloomfield, NJ (December 11, 1988), with the band in fine form, though again, the audio is basically rough bootleg quality. Great to hear some tunes from Scream Bloody Gore, like "Zombie Ritual", "Mutilation", and "Infernal Death" on this live disc.

Despite some of the subpar audio quality on the bonus material, this set was nonetheless put together with a lot of love and will be a must have for any Death fan. If you won't already have Leprosy in your metal collection, now's the time to rectify that situation.

Track Listing
Disc 1:

1. Leprosy

2. Born Dead

3. Forgotten Past

4. Left To Die

5. Pull The Plug

6. Open Casket

7. Primitive Ways

8. Choke On It

Disc 2:
Rehearsal Tracks

1. Open Casket

2. Choke On It 

3. Left To Die 

4. Left To Die - Take 2

5. Left To Die

6. Open Casket

7. Pull The Plug

8. Choke On It 

9. Born Dead

10. Forgotten Past

Disc 3:

Live at Backstreets, Rochester, NY - December 13th, 1988

1. Leprosy

2. Open Casket

3. Zombie Ritual

4. Pull The Plug

5. Left To Die 

6. Mutilation 

7. Forgotten Past

8. Born Dead

9. Denial Of Life

10. Primitive Ways

11. Infernal Death 

Live at The Dirt Club, Bloomfield, NJ - December 11th, 1988:

12. Leprosy

13. Pull The Plug 

14. Forgotten Past

15. Primitive Ways

16. Open Casket 

17. Mutilation

18. Infernal Death

Added: April 17th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2828
Language: english

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