April 27, 2014

Filthy Music Review - 'Death: Leprosy Remastered'

Death – Leprosy 3 Disc Remastered Edition (2014)

Relapse Records

Review by Jude Felton

If you know me, you’ll know that I make no secret of my love for the late, great Death. I could wax lyrical about them for pages, but instead you can check out an article elsewhere for that. Suffice to say that the first extreme metal album I bought on vinyl was Scream Bloody Gore, which was shortly followed by, this album, Leprosy. So, having seen other albums get the remastered treatment I think it is safe to say that Leprosy was, and is, the most eagerly anticipated, as it is one of the benchmarks against which all death metal gets compared.

First off, it is a truly epic release and one that is given the royal treatment it deserves. The three discs, on this version, clock in at around 2 hours and 40 minutes, which encompasses the album itself, demo and rehearsal tracks, and live tracks.

Honestly, I would have been happy with just getting the original album remastered; as it is a classic, in every sense of the word. Getting the extra two discs is a real bonus, as well as a truly enlightening look into both the songs’ evolution, as well as how well they translated in a live environment.

The remastered album itself is a thing of beauty, from the opening strains of the title track through to the closing salvo of Choke on It. As an album there is no weak spot; each song deserves its place and each song has its own identity (something which some modern bands could do to pay attention to). Listening to them in this new edition though is truly something to behold though. Yes, the original album is a masterpiece, and always will be, but hearing this new version allows some of the finer nuances of the music to shine through. I honestly don’t think anyone will be disappointed. It’s still raw, heavy as fuck and masterful, just more so than before.

The second disc, on this release, contains rehearsal versions of just about every track from Leprosy, with only Primitive Ways and Leprosy being absent. Instead you get multiple versions of some songs, all of which are stripped down and very raw. Some with vocals, some lacking in the vocal department, but all are incredibly eye-opening as to how the songs grew into the monsters we know. Whether or not you’ll get a lot of replay out of this disc is purely down to whether or not you want to hear Left to Die three times in a row, or not. You’ll definitely want to check it out, as it is still a great disc, but personally speaking it works best as a historical piece, and I am glad that Relapse included it.

The third, and final, disc is possibly the most exciting of the three, in that it contains live performances from two venues: Backstreets and The Dirt Club. What a joy it is to listen to! Having unfortunately never seen Death in concert, it was this disc I was most excited about, and it never disappoints. The sound quality is surprisingly good, whilst still retaining a great live deathly vibe (if that makes any sense whatsoever!). Listening to Chuck’s banter between the songs is terrific, whilst a poignant reminder to a great lost talent. What’s also great is that the live disc contains material from both Leprosy and Scream Bloody Gore. It’s a real treat.

It’s quite obvious that Relapse know exactly what they have in their hands, with this release, and it shows with the multitude of versions available. I recommend getting ahold of the three disc CD, over the two disc, but any version will be worth your while. I would hurry, when it comes to the vinyl editions though, as some have already sold out in pre-orders, meaning you’ll only find them for extortionate prices on Ebay or Discogs.

At the end of the day this is a fantastic release though, and it still stands the test of time as not only Death’s best album, but quite possibly the best death metal album ever. Sure, argue among yourselves, but this is the remastered version of a death metal album that is 27 years old, and it still sounds fresh as fuck. There’s good, there’s great and then there’s Death. Biased? Maybe, but I know I am not alone, and this is an essential addition to any metal fans’ record/CD collection.


Disc 1

1. Leprosy
2. Born Dead
3. Forgotten Past
4. Left To Die
5. Pull The Plug
6. Open Casket
7. Primitive Ways
8. Choke On It
Disc 2
Leprosy - 9/23/87 Rehearsal 

1. Open Casket
2. Choke On It
3. Left To Die
4. Left To Die - Take 2
Leprosy - 12/05/87 Rehearsals

5. Left To Die
6. Open Casket
7. Pull The Plug
8. Choke On It
9. Born Dead
10. Forgotten Past
Disc 3
Live at Backstreets, Rochester, NY - December 13th, 1988

1. Leprosy
2. Open Casket
3. Zombie Ritual
4. Pull The Plug
5. Left To Die
6. Mutilation
7. Forgotten Past
8. Born Dead
9. Denial Of Life
10. Primitive Ways
11. Infernal Death
Live at The Dirt Club, Bloomfield, NJ - December 11th, 1988

12. Leprosy
13. Pull The Plug
14. Forgotten Past
15. Primitive Ways
Digital Deluxe ONLY Bonus Tracks - Live at The Dirt Club, Bloomfield, NJ - December 11th, 1988

16. Open Casket
17. Mutilation
18. Infernal Death

Death's Leprosy Remastered is released by Relapse Records on April 29th.

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