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.
I cannot argue with anything Magnum Valentino has already said except for making a comparison with Death's later albums. I see "Symbolic", or "Sound of Perseverence" as a very different "Death", one which fit Chuck's voice and mastery of guitar duties at the time. The same applies with Leprosy. The songs themselves are written around solid riffs of a very clear mood which fit the subject matter perfectly, demonstrating Chuck's compositional prowess despite not yet being the guitarist he was at the end of Death's period of activity. The album length is just perfect, it leaves you wanting to hear more and ready to switch to another Death album- it did for me. In terms of voice, the only vocalist who comes close in terms of clear enunciation in Death Metal is Ross Dolan of Immolation, he was that good. If a tasteful look at death embedded in solid, commanding musicianship sounds good to you, you will not find better than Leprosy, no Cannibal Corpse-y copycat will come close.
With all the furore over Chuck Schuldiner's death I was eager to check out Death's back catalogue. It's now apparent that the accolades and tributes that poured in for Chuck were not just false and pretentious. In "Leprosy", released in September of 1988, Schuldiner made one of the most understated and influential metal records of all time. In an era of such stagnancy as much of the 80s metal scene was, Chuck breathed new life into the genre - his sense of dynamics and the need for originality clearly inspired many of our latter day heroes such as Cannibal Corpse, Opeth and At The Gates. Production wise, the album is of a surprisingly good standard, but the drums which sound like the echo in a warehouse (but not as booming as the 80s drum sound was) do sometimes drown out the marvellous riffing. But after this initial gripe, the evil, murderous guitar sounds take shape. There are several classics on here, primarily the title track, Born Dead, Pull The Plug and Open Casket. The good thing about this album is that there are no fillers. This really is as good as everyone says it is, though the complex song structures and riffs take time to bury themselves in your memory. Excellent.
This album is a bona fide classic, probably Death's finest hour. You should really have purchased this album by now, particularly if, following the death of Chuck Schuldiner, you are keen to find out what all the fuss is about. Slower and more measured than their 1987 debut Scream Bloody Gore, but certainly all the better for it. I don't think I've ever read one duff review of this album, considering it was released in 1988 it's very forward-looking and has obviously been a template for so many classic death metal bands. Tracks to look out for are Born Dead, Open Casket and my favourite, Pull The Plug. 5 stars without hesitation.
BOUGHT THIS CD THE FIRST WEEK IT CAME COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY FROM WHAT AT THE TIME, WAS THE FINEST DEATH METAL RELEASE SO FAR.(DEATH PRETTY MUCH CREATED A SCENE (ALONG WITH PESTILENCE) THAT IS STILL BEING IMITATED TODAY EVERY TRACK ON THIS CD IS OUTSTANDING.(MY PERSONAL FAVORITE IS OPEN CASKET)I HAVE NOT BEEN TO A FUNERAL SINCE WITHOUT THAT SONG FLOWING THROUGH MY HEAD.
Leprosy is typical of much of the early American death metal.
It was produced at Morrisound Studios in Florida with help from Scott Burns (Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Deicide) and boasts a great guitar tone. It's held together by a few very distinct drum beats (the so-called 'Slayer beat' and healthy application of solid double bass). There's plenty of reverb and an attention to making sure the bass is audible. The songs are short and unchallenging, but each is a genre classic. Leprosy is typical of Death albums in that it shows a clear improvement in approach to songwriting and musical ability since the previous record (the last year's Scream Blood Gore). The late Chuck Shuldiner's evolving vocal style was at its rawest here, but to this day he remains somewhat unique in the field, a sort of hoarse rasp with clear enunciation favoured over the impenetrable bark of scenemates Glen Benton or Chris Barnes.
I'll leave this short by saying that Leprosy is no landmark, but it is a very satisfying and accessible death metal album, with no riffs wasted and none of the severe aggression or blasting that turn so many fans away from the genre. It's more like a thrash metal album in approach, with just enough of a heavy edge and lyrical approach to push it into that other genre. At 38 minutes and 8 tracks its an easy listen, and it's probably the best place to get into the band, after the awkward debut but before the overtly progressive (but honestly superior) later offerings, and it's a true classic metal album, played fast and simple.
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
I first had this on vinyl picture disc - nice! It was great to see this re-released on cd. It remains an absolute classic album that is insanely brutal with some purely awesome riffing. This is my favourite death metal album of all time, and it sounds just as powerful and relevant today as it did when it was first released. Chuck was a genius. R.I.P.