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Death - Leprosy CD (album) cover

LEPROSY

Death

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.06 | 165 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Following in the footsteps of Slayer and Possessed, the Orlando, FL based Chuck Schuldiner single handedly developed his band DEATH into a major metal powerhouse and then dropped his fully functional death metal bomb onto the unsuspecting world of heavy metal with his debut album "Scream Bloody Gore." While in effect a solo album with only the percussive bombast of Chris Reifert as a partner in musical mischief, Schuldiner had unknowingly unleashed an entirely unexplored universe of metal possibilities with darker and more sinister themes that utilized punishing guitar riffage, primeval raw distortion and those famous Schuldiner only blood curdling screams that finally took that last step out of the only recently developed thrash metal into the ultimate world of extremities.

One can basically view DEATH's all too brief existence as an incremental step-by-step evolution from the deathened thrash metal beginnings of Mantas to the full blown independence within the death metal camp on "Scream Bloody Gore." On Schuldiner's second album LEPROSY now under the DEATH moniker, Chuck (on bass and guitar) almost employs a complete lineup making this one sound more like a real band effort and not just an early solo noisefest. Thus on LEPROSY there were two more musicians with the only album appearance of Rick Rozz on guitar and Bill Andrews picking up the drummer role after Chris Reifert went off to start Autopsy. The result of the new lineup and some time to iron out the kinks presented on the debut resulted in a stunningly brilliant followup.

LEPROSY provided a much needed intermittent step from the raw primeval bombast of the debut and the increasing progressive touches that climaxed on the final album "The Sound Of Perseverance." While not quite in the progressive death metal camp, LEPROSY displays proto-offerings of the famous abrupt time signature changes and adventurous stylistic changes from chugga chug riffing to the histrionic guitar solos with an riveting changing it up of the drums that create an interesting mixture of styles all throughout the album. The proto-prog labyrinthine tendencies are in full regalia on LEPROSY and would only incrementally accrue on each subsequent release. Never mind the pink album cover. These sounds emanate from the deepest trenches of hell. Despite the choice of color for the album cover pastiche, Edward Repka's artwork is quite creepy!

While it's true that DEATH was still in its infancy and was climbing the ladder to one of the most innovative metal bands of all time, LEPROSY provides an interesting snapshot into the late 80s when glam metal bands like Whitesnake and Poison were dominating MTV, the pop charts and the overall public's perception of what metal was. While not exactly taking the world by storm in terms of popularity, Schuldiner was staunchly nurturing his newly sired craft into an incredible maelstrom of technical wizardry that would provide the blueprint of metal ingenuity for generations to come. For any fans of DEATH, you know you're either in it wholeheartedly or just casually dipping in to hear what all the fuss is about. It's simply impossible to follow Schuldiner's brainchild career without experiencing every single stop in the road along the way. LEPROSY provides that interesting phase two realm.

While i personally prefer the four more progressively infused albums that came last, LEPROSY is by far my favorite album of the first three as it successfully captures in perfect balance the raw and unrelenting origins of the DEATH universe but also begins to create more elaborate compositions that utilize not only traces of melody married with the youthful exuberance and sloppiness that comes from the initial stages of a band's existence. This is truly a subway stop on the road to greatness but because of Schuldiner's personal style and ferocious approach, i find this to be the quintessential satisfying release in the early years of old school death metal. Tech death is probably my favorite extreme metal style of the 21st century but LEPROSY is a classic that captures a moment in time that can never be repeated and captures it brilliantly. Brilliantly i say, brilliantly! Grrrrrrrrr.

4.5 but rounded down

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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