DEATH — Leprosy

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DEATH - Leprosy cover
3.92 | 66 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1988

Filed under Death Metal
By DEATH

Tracklist

1. Leprosy (6:20)
2. Born Dead (3:27)
3. Forgotten Past (4:36)
4. Left to Die (4:37)
5. Pull the Plug (4:26)
6. Open Casket (4:55)
7. Primitive Ways (4:33)
8. Choke on It (5:54)

Total Time: 38:51

Line-up/Musicians

- Chuck Schuldiner / vocals, guitar, bass
- Rick Rozz / guitar
- Bill Andrews / drums
- Terry Butler / bass

About this release

Full-length, Combat/Under One Flag
November 16th, 1988

Terry Butler is credited as the bass player but, according to Chuck, did not
actually play on the album. Schuldiner himself performed the bass parts.

Produced by Dan Johnson. Cover art by Edward J. Repka.

Reissued by Century Media in 1998.

2008 Century Media digipack reissue bonus tracks:
9. Open Casket (live) 4:49
10. Choke on It (live) 5:50
11. Left to Die (live) 4:35
12. Pull the Plug (live) 4:26
13. Forgotten Past (live) 4:33

Thanks to UMUR, Unitron for the updates

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DEATH LEPROSY reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
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.
Vim Fuego
It must be a teen angst thing, to claim a song or musician “speaks” to you. It was common in the gunge… er, grunge era, where spotty anaemic teens thought Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder were channelling their personal feelings or thoughts, and were communicating straight to them. It’s not a new phenomenon. Similar claims have been made of Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Bono, and just about any trendy fuckwit who has ever written a vague sounding song which can be reinterpreted or misinterpreted, and appeals to safe middle class, suburban youth.

Fuck. Off.

All it means is you’ve never experienced anything challenging or real in your life, and you’re trying to be more world wise and weary than you really are. That sort of music, and it’s fans, are deeply superficial. There is nothing truly thought provoking in it, because there is nothing real in it.

For outsiders, people attracted to harder, heavier music, it is either a reflection of the harshness of life, or a complete escape into fantastical escapism. On the reality side, you have genres like grindcore and crust punk, with their social conscience and political colours emblazoned for all to see. Other genres, like brutal death metal or power metal take refuge in slasher movie gore, or Dungeons and Dragons made flesh. A few bands though, managed to combine the two extremes, creating something which was both thought provoking, and an escape. Death’s “Leprosy” is such a creation.

Death’s legacy is legendary in metal circles. The band’s first album “Scream Bloody Gore” is a seminal death metal milestone, creating the bloodstained blueprint for the genre. However, by the time Chuck Schuldiner got to making “Leprosy”, he had been playing this style of music for half a decade, and the plain old guts and gore thing had become a bit passé. So Schuldiner changed tack. Instead of musical horror movies, as later perfected by the likes of Cannibal Corpse and Autopsy, he turned to true life horror.

Take title track “Leprosy” for example. It’s a biblical illness, right? People don’t get leprosy any more, do they? Well, when this song was written, more than 5,000,000 people worldwide had the disease. Although now curable, it is still present in the developing world. There’s a horrifically detailed (and even more horrifically predominantly shocking pink!) Ed Repka depiction of the disease on the album cover. A descriptive song, it describes the ravages of leprosy on a human. It doesn’t just describe the physical effects, but also the social stigma, and the psychological torment of someone disfigured and dying. How would you feel?

Musically, “Leprosy” was also a change of tack. It’s fast and heavy, but also sharp and clear. And ya know, it’s a pretty fucking impressive backing band here. Although things went all to shit later on, and the rest of the band copped a lot of criticism from Schuldiner, all three have been incredibly influential in the way death metal sounds today. The non-Chuck ¾ of the band went on to reform Massacre with former Death alumni Kam Lee. Bassist Terry Butler didn’t actually play on this album, but he has had a full career since, also playing in Six Feet Under and Obituary. Rick Rozz co-wrote much of the music on this album. His playing style was criticised at the time for his blatant Kerry King worship, but in the years since, his style has been adopted by many death metal lead guitarists, because it suits death metal so fucking well.

The rest of the thought provoking songs followed on in a similar vein from “Leprosy”. “Born Dead” took a closer look at third world famine and disease than any pop star collaboration trying to feed the world. “Forgotten Past” is a story of horrifying dreams, or are they a revealed memory?

The incredible “Left To Die” is a war song, told from the point of view of a seemingly unimportant victim dying on a battlefield. It could be the final moments of many millions of soldiers since the invention of gunpowder, but is that life still unimportant if it is yours?

“Pull The Plug” is a powerful first person point of view of a helpless victim in a vegetative state, sensing all, but able to do nothing. It’s like Metallica’s “One” without the anti-war message, and poetic license. “Open Casket” is a jab at the insensitive and cringe-worthy practice of open casket funerals. What good comes from seeing someone’s body in death?

“Primitive Ways” is probably the only song which would have fit well onto “Scream Bloody Gore”. It’s a description of cannibalistic rituals. A bit less intelligent than the rest of the album, this is still plenty gory for the guts fetishists.

And final track “Choke On It”. It’s not a perverse song about brutal sex, as the title may suggest. Instead, the song makes the listener consider: “How would I cope if subjected to torture?”

So, feelings? Yes, there’s plenty, if you count all the varieties of physical and mental pain, and societal rejection. Thoughts? Plenty are provoked, often of the “I’ve never thought of it that way before” and “thank fuck that’s not happening to me” variety. And does it speak to anyone? Well, yes it does. This album spoke to death metal fans and bands the world over. The message was it was OK to explore themes outside murder and gore, it was possible to make clear sounding music without losing the death metal essence, and intelligence and death metal were not mutually exclusive.
Warthur
Death's debut was a decent blueprint for death metal but didn't have brilliant production; their second album would not only demonstrate that they had a few more technical chops than Screan Bloody Gore might have suggested, but also put the distinctive production style of Scott Burns on the map and made Morrisound in Florida the hub of the late 1980s/early 1990s US death metal explosion. With songs that incorporate a higher degree of technical capability without making technicality the sole focus and a production which teases out the hidden intricacies of the group's playing whilst retaining the fire and fury of the preceding album, it isn't a delicate or shy piece but it is an iconic one.
UMUR
"Leprosy" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US death metal act Death. The album was released through Combat Records in August 1988. After releasing "Scream Bloody Gore (1987)", band founder Chuck Schuldiner opted to move back to Florida, and as Death was essentially a two-man band at the time, and drummer Chris Reifert decided to stay in California (he would later found Autopsy), a whole new lineup had to be assembled. Rick Rozz who had been a member of Death in their formative demo years joined as the band´s second guitarist, and drummer Bill Andrews was also added to the lineup. Although Terry Butler is credited for playing the bass on the album, Schuldiner stated in several interviews over the years, that it was in fact him who performed bass in addition to guitars and vocals. As the case also was on the predecessor "Leprosy" is graced by one of the distinct looking cover artworks by Edward J. Repka. The album was recorded in April 1988 at Morrisound Recording with producer Dan Johnson, and is one of the earliest examples of a death metal album recorded at that now legendary studio.

While the music style on the album is old school US death metal, which was also the case on "Scream Bloody Gore (1987)", and the music on "Leprosy" is unmistakably the sound of Death, there is still a huge difference between the two albums in terms of the quality and complexity of the songwriting, the sound production, and the musicianship. "Leprosy" was not only the next logical step for Death, it was also a transformation from a rather primitive and raw death metal act to a more sophisticated (yet still brutal and raw) ditto. This is not technical death metal by any means though, and some of the transitions between sections are still a bit amaturish and abrupt, but it´s obvious that Schuldiner had grown as a composer/musician since the debut, but also that the rest of the lineup was relatively technically skilled.

The material on the 8 track, 38:51 minutes long album is generally well written and for the most part quite catchy for the genre. The riffs are brutal yet intelligent, the guitar solos delivered with fierce intensity, the rhythm section is solid, and the intelligible aggressive growling vocals are performed with passion and conviction. Highlights include the title track, "Pull the Plug", and "Open Casket", but "Leprosy" is a solid release through and through.

The sound production is raw and brutal, yet detailed, and suits the music perfectly. So "Leprosy" is in any way possible a step up from the debut, and overall a great quality release. It´s the perfect transition album between the old school death metal of "Scream Bloody Gore (1987)" and the more technically focused death metal of "Spiritual Healing (1990)". A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.
Phonebook Eater
With "Leprosy" Death make a step forward from the extremely radical death metal sound present in their first LP "Scream Bloody Gore", in every way. Except one; for me, the enjoyment of the album is the same I had with the first album.

Chuck Schuldiner had to gather a few more musicians for this album, so that Death could be an actual band and not just a one man project; we have Rick Rozz at guitars, Terry Butler at bass and Bill Andrews on drums. The musicianship is as a consequence an improvement, but still far from precise and virtuous. The production is still poor and rough, but even here slightly better than the one in "Scream Bloody Gore".

Musically, this is pure and simple death metal, with some more complex riffs and longer songs, an element that will become more and more developed by the band until, with "Human", they will become a Technical Death Metal band and use this formula constantly. But here we see only little traces of progressive song structures.The lyrical content is a little more intelligent than the one of first album, and some times they concern controversial matters, such as pulling the plug on somebody who lives in a vegetable state. But we still have pretty much those same themes we find on "Scream Bloody Gore", even though there in the second album there is a consistency concerning disease and extreme pessimism about living here in this world.

The reason why I didn't like this album is just the fact that I didn't get into the songs in here. There are some good moments, like in the title track, the longest song of the album, "Forgotten Past", or the already mentioned "Pull The Plug", but I don't care at all about the rest of the songs, which was kind of disappointing for me.

I know many people don't mind listening to this album, but I just got a little bored and I don't feel like picking it up for a long time now.But I can't deny that without this album Death maybe would have never been so great, and that it is most definitely a step forward.
The Angry Scotsman
Just like its predecessor, Leprosy is a pure death metal album. However, some improvement was made from Scream Bloody Gore. There are more slower parts, which is great to break up what can become monotony. The songs are also a little more constructed, and there are some really cool sections.

The drumming is a tad more varied. While it is mainly blast beats, there is also some double bass, as well as fills that are more than snare drum. This all again makes the album a little more listenable.

The guitar work is again, mostly tremolo picking though just like the drumming there is some more variation on Leprosy and better riffing. There are still those all over the place Slayer-esque solos.

Besides better songwriting, the number of songs was reduced, which makes the overall album easier to get through. Standout Songs: Born Dead (has a classic Chuck tapping solo), Forgotten Past, Left to Die, and Open Casket for its flat out intensity!

Another solid, no fooling around death metal album, so please avoid if that is not your style. However, this is a good death metal album, recommended for fans.

Four Stars
Time Signature
Leper messiah...

Genre: death metal

While Death are heralded as being a progressive/technical death metal album, "Leprosy" is neither progressive nor technical as such and is better described as a death metal or extreme thrash metal album. Still, as the observant listener will undoubtedly note, there are plenty of innovative, technical and even some progressive, elements on this album. "Leprosy" certainly is ahead of its time and contains many inklings of Schuldiner's later style. Certainly, while very much a stadard death metal album, "Leprosy" is one of the seeds of what would later grow into the genre of technical/progressive death metal.

For instance, there are several changes in time and tempo, some of which, in an Iron Maiden-esque fashion, come as a complete surprise to the listener. There are also a few examples of complex guitar riffs, and odd riffs that almost seem incongruous with the rest of the song as in the case of the part that appears about one minute and twenty-five seconds into "Pull the Plug", which is a pointer at Schulidiner's later ability to compose very dynamic metal songs.

Notable tracks are "Pull the Plug", "Open Casket" and "Primitive Ways" as well as the title track whose many time and tempo changes make them especially dynamic and interesting to listen to, while "Choke on It" seems a bit too unstructured.

Yes, this album deserves to be praised, but it does have its low points, too. Firstly, the drums are annoying. They have this really annoying 80s sound with so much reverb that one suspects that they were recorded in Sant Paul's Cathedral. Secondly, while the album is full of great ideas, I think that the limited skills of most of the musicians that appear on the album (maybe with the exception of Schuldiner) prevent the album from being what it should have been. One can only imagine what it would have sounded like with Gene Hoglan or Sean Reinert on drums and Paul Masvidal on guitars. Thirdly, many of those riffs that are not innovative are exactly the opposite - namely, trite and repetitive and uninteresting.

I can imagine that death metal afficionados will enjoy this album, and I also think that fans of progressive and technical metal of the more hard-hitting kind will enjoy this album - if not for its musical quality (which I think is there), then for its role in the history of progressive/technical metal...

... that is, if they can live with a death metal album in their collection whose cover art is actually based on the color pink.

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