Well. What hasn't already been said about Leprosy. Released in 1988 in the heyday decade for metal, this sat very comfortably with all the other artistically realised vinyl covers on the shelves. It had a perfect logo, a superb front cover (you didn't even twig that the main colour was pink!) and some brutal song titles. It was only 8 tracks long (as was the norm at the time - something I feel should have continued in regard to quality over quantity) and looked liked it belonged slotted in next to the Anthrax's, Metallica's and Slayer's of the world in Our Price (ah memories). But it was when it was played that the realisation manifested.
Opener and title track is both brutal, unlike anything I'd ever heard before (as a 13 year old at the time Schuldiner's guttural roar was literally scary), played with technical expertise and also more melodic than death metal should ever sound. This was the sound of a genre beginning. Which was not evident at the time, although it was clear that something different lay within those vinyl grooves. Their debut may be lauded quite correctly as the seminal catalyst for all death metal to gush but Leprosy was where the band honed their sound and progressed their vision with astounding results. It sounds unlike any modern death metal album as the genre has evolved itself over the 20+ years but the crushing kernel of the genre's core still remains beating in its riffs and growls. Literally for me the title track became an instant classic. 'Born Dead' follows with even more evil intent but with less scope, still forging ahead with mantra-like choruses that shouldn't be catchy but are. 'Forgotten Past' eschews any such notion of traditional death metal (and this as about as traditional as you can get!) as the chorus is almost catchy enough to be labelled pop - almost. But it is a giant of a track. 'Left to Die' finishes off side 1 (as it was back then) with a snarling, vicious trail of evil.
'Pull the Plug' is more of the same but with yet another singalong chorus, albeit a rather vile singalong. 'Open Casket' is one of my favourites. The opening is both stunningly evil and beautiful and the crescendo of the chorus is pure horror metal. 'Primitive Ways' is another raw statement of evil intent. And 'Choke on It' finishes of the whole grimy, fetid proceeding with filthy brilliance.
I am not particularly excited by death metal as I find it has very strict limitations and life is too short to be screamed at constantly, but Leprosy is one of the most upbeat expressions of the genre I have found. It is both a nostalgic reminder of my formative years finding my musical feet, as well as a near perfect heavy metal album, equalling the greats it was sharing the stage with, just in a very different fashion.
By far my favourite Death album I have yet listened too of the new reissues. Sound quality and packaging of the CD is excellent. The Extra CD has some great early takes on the songs but It's all about the main CD worth it for that. Leprosy was a high water mark for all death metal.
Death are the god fathers of death metal it's as simple as that,leprosy is a classic death metal there's nothing I can say to big up this album because if your into death metal you already eon this album