Even before the evil vibes of the 1987 debut, "Scream Bloody Gore", had been absorbed, DEATH spawned another evil piece of mayhem. There was only one year in between, so is this just another copy of their debut? ...Certainly not!
By many, it is considered the best record from DEATH; true old school Death Metal. It is enforced by well structured songs, containing elements that were inspired by bands like IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST; fast, melodic solos, and heavy riffs with groove and speed. The tracks are more epic, more melodic and less primitive than displayed on their debut, yet it will cut you like a chainsaw from Hades. A grim atmosphere, offensive guitars, pounding drums and the most demonic vocals ever.
The solos of Chuck Schuldiner and Rick Rozz have quite a different approach, whereas Rick spills his guts in some SLAYER-like maniac manner, Chuck shows a more melodic and structured approach, yet keeping it aggressive as could be. I still have problems deciding if the different approaches is a good thing or not, but I guess it just makes it more interesting, really.
There is one thing that used to (not as much nowadays) annoy me, though. The snare-drum is too damn loud and mighty, especially compared to the bass drums. It kinda fills the soundscape completely at times, especially during the snare-bass-snare... trade-offs.
In general the lyrics are more mature than earlier; no more screaming about cocks, cunts, zombies and gory horror-movie elements. Yeah, they are still bringing up issues of death and pain (yeeeah!), but in a more sophisticated manner.
A song like "Pull The Plug" is actually a glimpse into the future of DEATH. It's varied, also containing mid-tempo passages, great solos and meaningful lyrics (no kidding - draw a line to METALLICA's "One" (but remember that DEATH did it first)). Perhaps no wonder it was one of Chuck's all-time DEATH-favourites. Anyhow, it does have quite a few elements that one may track down in later DEATH-releases. And if you haven't already done so, check out the speedy intro of "Open Casket". It really kicks ass with some furious double-bass-drums (max volume recommended).
I have to mention the cover as well. A painting created by the legendary Edward J. Repka, showing a half-rotten leper (and his companions in the back) in a desert landscape suits the musical themes perfectly. On the back you'll find a pic of Chuck behind the mic, and his 'persona' is just reeking of pure evil. Also, I cannot keep myself from mentioning that Bill Andrews looks like a guy from some Glam Rock-band or something!
It's important to understand the difference between this album and what was to come of DEATH in the future. It's not really comparable since they in reality represent different styles. It's no big secret that Chuck later gathered a group of musicians that were far more talented and thereby taking a major leap forward musically (lyrically too, actually - but that's another issue). This means that there are (or should be) different scales in use for rating the first three DEATH-albums and the ones after that ....but for this type of old-school kick-ass Metal...all is well, and "Leprosy" is surely on top!
Guest-reviewer Remi Karlsen