Death

Spiritual Healing (Reissue)

Written by: EW on 27/12/2012 12:06:43

Continuing their worthy foray into the seminal Death discography, the next re-release on the Relapse chopping block is their third LP, 1990's "Spiritual Healing". We can of course look back with hindsight and comment that this release continued where "Leprosy" left off, taking the more developed song structures, riffing patterns and let's not forget, socially aware lyrical themes, moving the band further into the progressive territories which were later enhanced on "Human" and beyond. Sandwiched in between in my opinion two of the most masterful death metal releases in history, "Spiritual Healing" has never gotten over being the ugly duckling of this period in Death's history; it does not totally master their incisiveness throughout but with this re-working is still a highly recommended feature of the Death cannon.

The re-mastered production has greatly enhanced the clarity of the record, showing how the likes of "Defensive Personalities" and "Altering the Future" revel more in the slow(er) leaden-weight heaviness of "Leprosy" material rather than the Gene Hoglan backed speed of "Human". Take the title track, "Genetic Reconstruction" or "Low Life" as examples of Chuck Schuldiner & co allowing the songs to start off in slow clinical fashion before picking up the speed later on with a catalogue of riffs building towards the hammering choruses - even at 22 years old these songs still pack in much more than the average DM band of today.

The song titles quoted so far, not to mention the thought-provoking cover, should also prick the ears of anyone tired of the stereotypical Satanic or gory lyrics of extreme metal; more than a writer of great songs, Schuldiner displayed a strong knack at this early stage of Death's career to pen thoughtful social lyrics. How about "The guilty one, innocent she now cries / A life of hell, better off to die / Born without eyes, hands, and a half a brain / Being born addicted to cocaine" from "Living Monstrosity" or "Replacing what is real by using technology / Population control, selecting those who will breed / A specific type of form chosen for the unborn" from "Genetic Reconstruction". Stuff that to anyone claiming a faux love of Satan or winging about their ex-girlfriend.

As an addition to the original release we here also have a bonus disc comprising 16 tracks of rehearsals and demo versions of the tracks that ended up on the album. Naturally these are more for the die-hard Death fan but as usual offer an interesting insight into the work that goes into writing such songs before a reliance on studio gimmickry and computerised guitar and drum sounds became the norm.

As my numero uno band of all time I would of course exhort any metal fan to investigate all seven Death full-lengths so it comes as no surprise that I would do so for "Spiritual Healing". As an exercise in intelligent death metal it is magnificent - that still it lurks in their shadows of the two releases either side is testimony to Death's unsurpassed status as the kings of death metal.

Download: Defensive Personalities, Spiritual Healing
For The Fans Of: Obscura, Atheist, Cannibal Corpse
Listen: Myspace

Release date 20.11.2012
(Originally 16.02.1990)
Relapse Records

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