Album Review: Death – “Leprosy (3 Disc Deluxe Re-issue)”
Death are one of those bands that will always carry a certain weight wherever their name is mentioned. Influencing countless bands with their pioneering take on the genre and widely regarded as one of the first, if not the first, death metal band, Death’s back catalogue is currently in the midst of getting the re-issue treatment.
Leprosy comes re-mastered by Alan Douches (Kvelertak, Dillinger Escape Plan) who avoids taking all the rough charm of the original out of the picture, and instead makes all the instruments clear as a bell which only adds to the ferocity of the record. And it is very ferocious, listening back to this record it’s clear that Death were ahead of their time and continued to be one of the forerunners of the genre right up until Chuck Schuldiner’s death in 2001. Pick a death metal band of today and you’d be hard pressed to find one that puts an edge on the genre that would make Leprosy sound dated.
Although 1988’s Leprosy was only their second album it was clear that the band were going places songwriting wise, something that their 1991 album Human would further attest to. Here, the title track along with tracks like Left To Die and Primitive Ways also showcase the increasing technicality of the songs, which were already moving away from the more thrash orientated sound of their debut album Scream Bloody Gore. In fact, the whole album still shines so bright as a beacon in the evolution of death metal that it’s surprising that Schuldiner ever felt the need to move away from its sound. This once again goes to show that true artists of whatever genre are never happy standing still and are always striving for something better.
This being the super deluxe re-issue means that there are two extra discs to immerse yourself in, and contained within those discs is the kind of material that only an avid fan would deem essential to their collection. Disc two contains demos and rehearsal material which sounds just about as raw as you’d expect despite also being remastered by Douches, with the sound at times becoming a muddy mess making it almost unlistenable. For the Death aficionado however, it does provide insight into how the songs evolved into what they eventually became.
The third disc (super limited apparently) is the band in their element, live from Backstreets in Rochester, New York and The Dirt Club in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Again, despite the remasters the sound is very raw, but of the two bonus discs it is by far the superior and the ‘super-limited’ set is sure to sell out fast. The band are on fire on these recordings, and their energy outshines the rawness of the sound.
The necessity of the 10 rehearsal/demo tracks is debatable, with the live disc being the only essential extra on offer, but the hardcore fan is sure to find gold. Leprosy is still a classic album, and the remaster has only accentuated that.