Death – Leprosy Reissue (Relapse)

Monday, 5th May 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

It was always of amusement and befuddlement (like most things in life) to this scribe that Leprosy was a faster album that its Spiritual Healing successor. Aren’t death metal bands supposed to increase in intensity as they go along? In most cases, that’s a safe bet, but in the (twisted) mind of Chuck Schuldiner, it was probably necessary for Spiritual to grapple in the oh-so-heavy balls and chunk direction, while letting Leprosy simmer in its death-on-thrash, or thrash-on-death approach. Never the matter, for the band’s 1988 album is the next in Relapse’s line of reissues, complete with a new mastering job, bonus tracks, enhanced packaging, and more. Utterly pro, like the reissues that came before.

A run-down of the album’s pivotal tracks this is not, for having to do such a thing would indicate the album’s veritable stockade of timeless ideas has yet to be absorbed by our readers. The album’s production – a Morrisound workaround – has been updated with proper care, and is suitably louder than the original. Benefiting, of course, are staple numbers like the title track, “Left to Die,” and “Mutilation,” which is lead guitarist Rick Rozz’s best moment on record. And, “Pull the Plug” remains ever the classic, with its spirited, ready-for-shout-a-along chorus.

The bonus features such a two live sets and demo tracks are of muddled quality, which is to be expected from recordings that originated in the late 80s. But, the subtle tweaks via the demo tracks, as well as Schuldiner’s stage banter are worth examination beyond the album’s original running order. That being said, Leprosy’s place in the Death pantheon remains stable; it’s an album of a band maturing at a rapid pace, with the death metal world by the proverbial balls. And to that point, they could have spat out a run of like-sounding albums for the remainder of their career and be done, but, progression has forever been Death’s calling card. It’s all over Leprosy.

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