Sit back. Relax. It's Death time.
It's hard to argue with a band's legacy when an entire subgenre is named after it. Formed in Orlando in the late 80's, Chuck Schuldiner (guitar/vocals) defined a style of extreme music with his band, Death. While players rotated in and out of the influential band, Schuldiner was the driving force behind Death from its inception until he shifted focus from the band in favor of a newer, more melodic project, Control Denied. Schuldiner's untimely death in 2001 from brain cancer put a final halt to both projects.
Originally released in 1988, Leprosy was the second album in Death's discography, and also the second to recently receive the remastering treatment via Relapse. From the moment the album starts, the difference is apparent. The new version takes the power of the original release and amplifies it, making Schuldiner's opus more punishing. The titular opening track, "Leprosy" features drums with a noticeably louder machine-gun like attack and precision that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Schuldiner's from-Hell growls are more frightening, and his guitar work, along with Rick Rozz, stands out even more than on previous versions.
"Born Dead" and "Forgotten Past" retain Schuldiner's signature guitar virtuosity, with the enhanced mix adding to the darkness of the original album. When the album slams into the classic "Pull The Plug," the old-school Death fan will throw their fist in the air with joy, while the new listener looking for the roots of their extreme metal heroes will drop their jaw in awe over the virtuosity of Schuldiner and co., and wonder why it took so long to find this record in the first place.
Only hardcore fans will be interested in the second disc. Compiled of alternate rehearsal recordings of Leprosy-era songs, the second disc is geared solely toward only the most dedicated Death fans. "Choke on It", "Left to Die" and "Open Casket" are given particular attention with two and three alternate versions provided in varying quality.
In the time since Chuck Schuldiner's death, many artists have followed in his footsteps, taking death metal and other forms of extreme music into further unexplored territories. Modern fans looking to retrace the footsteps of their current heroes are well-advised to grab the remastered version of Leprosy.
All fans of extreme music need to know about Chuck Schuldiner and Death.