Death - Spiritual healing
Death's third album, Spiritual Healing
was released in 1990 and marked yet another change in the bands legendary career. After countless line-up changes througout their young career, Death had always seemed to be walking a tight-rope but the excellent songwriting and determination of the man who essentialy was the band, Chuck Schuldiner had alwasy pulled them through. Different to preivous releases, Spiritual Healing
was less gore in the lyrics, the music was a little less brutal and it was, well, more musical. The songs are still heavy though, a little more diverse than previous releases though.
The high-point for any Death album for me has always been the riffs, and this album is no exception. Chuck really is a great song-writer and every riff, every lead on this album are perfect. The solos are pretty good too; Chuck is never really regarded as a virtuoso but he is an exceptionally good guitarist techincally, and more musical than most guitarists of his technical ability. I can't help but feeling that the solos could give the music just a little more though, as they are all pretty similar and although they are good solos they don't bring the music to the huge climax that a solo should. The drumming courtesy of Bill Andrews is excellent; technically good and intresting aswell. The bass is a little low in the mix but seems to be exceuted well. The vocals are good, they aren't the gutteral rumble taht has become synonymous with death metal, but are still aggresive and compliment the music well.
The second track on the album, Altering the Future, is a good showcase of what the album has to offer. Starting out with a slow dragging intro with some nice drumming, which then stops so Chuck can provide us with a nice lead. Most of Chuck's riffs/leads aren't too complex rhythmically but carry themselves well. The chorus in this song is pretty fast and heavy, and we even get a growl from Chuck. The politically driven lyrics are a nice change from the gore ones that came before this release, and represents to me how the band have matured both in their song-writing and lyrics. The solo is the usual fast, metal soloing with some nice melodic touches in it. However, the riff following the solo is what Death is all about for me, a fast palm-muted riff totally worthy of a headbang, with some melody being incorporated through the notes thrown in between the palm muted parts.
A good showcase of Chuck's soling abilities comes in Within the Mind. Starting off a lead-guitar introduction from Chuck before kicking into a slow, dragging riff and some good drumming from Andrews, the song carries itself well. The blood-curling wail from Chuck following this section is nice, and introduces, yet another, great riff. The high-point here is definately the solo though, starting off less-accompanied than usual, Chuck manages to display his ability for mixing speed and melody. Following this section is a faster section where the lead guitar plays some sequences over the changing chords underneath to nice effect. The solo later on is of a similar, high quality with some nice melodic passages again.
My favourite song on the album though is Spiritual Healing. The longest song on the album at nearly 8 minutes, it kicks off with a legato riff which sounds very cool before moving into a heavy, palm-muted riff very typical of Death. The part following this shows an excellent vocal performance from Chuck, and some of the best riffing on the album follows; including some rather fast palm-muted one that Death do so well. Another great moment is the legato riff over which Chuck calls 'Spiritual Healing', before the solo kicks in with the usual fast licks and harmonic minor melodies.
Overall, this is a very good album, mainly because the songs are very well written (in particular, great riffs, which appeat in ridiculously large quanitity), and the release on the whole is more mature than previous ones. The prodution is pretty good aswell, albeit a little short of bass. I am of the opinion that Death never made a bad album, and while this one may be over-looked by most, it is still a great album and deserves recognition, even if it isn't as good as Scream Bloody Gore
or The Sound of Perseverance
Recommend songs: Spiritual Healing, Within the Mind, Alterning the Future, Low Life