Review Summary: Death's second album will take control and bring you to your death, or at least, to the beginning of your better life.THE STORY OF DEATH, EPISODE II/VII - LEPROSY:
Leprosy is actually the last Death album I got into. Not that it is not catchy, all Death albums are; the reason is, perhaps, the albums cover. Which is pretty wicked, but again, so are all Death artworks. After I first heard it, though, I couldn’t get enough of it. The album is great musically - but there is a lot more behind the picture of the outcast infected village in the arid desert under the bloody red skies. Indeed, Death's second album shows an evolution sound-wise, as the songs get far more progressive and technical. Leprosy is more than just the heavily Thrash-influenced Scream Bloody Gore; Leprosy is near-pure Death Metal.
The dark heavy riff at the start of the opening track is a great way to open the album. It blends perfectly into the slow riff, where Chuck shows his vocal ability. The track is over six minutes long - it's the longest track in Death first two albums. It contains a lot of tempo changes and breaks, basically much more progressive than any of the songs on Scream Bloody Gore, but it's still very catchy and the chorus will be sung in your head for days.
After the amazing title track, the album regresses to short 3 – 4 minute song lengths. Unlike the former, these shorter songs are accompanied by all kinds of progressive, technical notions. Born Dead is the shortest track off the record, and it still contains a unique structure. Every track here is, in fact, unique. That's one of the things that make Leprosy so enjoyable.
Skimming through the album, Pull The Plug must be the most memorable track. By many it is considered Death's best song. That’s a reasonable claim, I suppose, but in my opinion Death's best work is yet to come. It follows the verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus formula that was used in many Death songs. It starts with a dark, slow riff, transits into a Thrashy passage and breaks with the mosh pit chorus. Besides excelling musically, Pull The Plug has one of the best lyrics Chuck ever wrote. It deals with paralysis theme, just like the song One by Metallica, that came earlier the same year. The two tell the story of a paralyzed man who lies in a hospital bed, connected to machines that keep him alive. Even though that in Pull The Plug the spoken man can apparently still hear and feel, in both cases the cripple wants his family to let him die; to "pull the plug", but they keep him alive, not aware of his suffering. Chuck delivers his thoughts beautifully, as I will quote:
"Memories is all that's left behind
As I lay and wait to die
Little do they know
That I hear their choice of life"
Chuck and the band were in great shape in the start of their experimental journey in Technical Death Metal. Chuck didn’t improve much vocally, but the songwriting has definitely changed. Every band member is playing his part greatly, the solos, the riffs and the beats are all played very well. The lyrics have also improved since Scream Bloody Gore, and they are one of the major reasons why I like Leprosy slightly better than the former. The production has also improved, overall, but I'll be strict and point out that the drums are too high in the mix, and that makes the album less enjoyable. On some headphones, you would actually have a very hard time even in only trying to hear the guitar riffs.
Leprosy is considered the best of Death's first three albums. While I disagree, I can understand the reasons behind this statement. Leprosy is an amazing Progressive Technical piece. If you are a fan of Death and you don’t have it yet, go get it right away. It shows the beginning of the bands evolution; the band that will later become the most appreciated Death Metal band to date.
- Pull The Plug
- Open Casket
Leprosy was released in November 16, 1988. The record label is Combat Records and it is 37:04 minutes long.
Chuck Schuldiner – Guitar, Bass (uncredited), Vocals
Rick Rozz – Guitar
Terry Butler – Bass (did not play on the album, but was credited for it)
Bill Andrews – Drums
Recorded at Morrisound Recording, Tampa, Florida, USA
Produced by Dan Johnson
Engineered by Scott Burns
Mastered by Michael Fuller at Fullersound, Miami, Florida, USA
Edward Repka – Artwork
Eric Greif – Management
Frank White – Photography
David Bett – Art Direction