Review: Spiritual Healing
Magazine: Metal Forces / UK
Written by: Borivoj Krgin
Published: March 1990

As one of DEATH's earliest fans, I can certainly appreciate the fact that the band cannot continue to chum out basic, sludgey death metal for the rest of their lives; rather, they, like any other group who plan to be around in five years times, must progress and evolve in a fashion which will best allow them the musical freedom that they need as musicians without ignoring those factors which established the band's sound and style in the first place. On "Spiritual Healing" DEATH are evidently trying to expand on their brutal brand of death metal while retaining their non-commercial, uncompromising identity, and it seems to have worked in their favour on all parts.

Now don't get me wrong. There's nothing on this album that even approaches commerciality or mainstream accessibility in any way, shape or form. But compared to its predecessors, "Leprosy" and "Scream Bloody Gore", "Spiritual Healing" appears to be a more mature, more professional and generally more listenable effort.

All the DEATH-trademarks are still there -the brutal gutteral vocals of guitarist Chuck Schuldiner (clearer, clearer than before, but that much more real-sounding), the morbid, tuned-down riffing, and the catchy, memorable choruses- but it all appears to be more polished and just more 'together' than the groups previous attempts.

The production of Scott Burns (with the band lending a helping hand) is also quite impressive, with the guitars cutting through in brutal fashion and the vocals sounding as live and natural as they should, considering the strenght of the material.

It would be difficult for me to pick out the best tracks as they're all (approximately) of equally like calibre, but my current faves are the opener "Living Monstrosity" (featuring the opening riff of 1985's "Back From The Dead"), "Genetic Reconstruction" (mid. tempo death crunch at its heaviest!) "Altering The Future" and "Spiritual Healing" (featuring yet another throw back to DEATH's past, this time from the track "Legion Of Doom" from MANTAS' (pre-DEATH) "Death By Metal" 1984 demo). Most of the songs have numerous tempo-changes within and mid-tempo sections are predominant throughout, but there's certainly not a lack of speed, as the likes of "Killing Spree" and "Living Monstrosity" will undoubtedly go to show.

Anyway, "Spiritual Healing" is bound to get DEATH some negative feedback due to its slightly more "civilized" nature, but for my money, it represents a natural and by all means necessary progression that the group should be commended for.

Definitely no wimp out or sell-out here.

ESSENTIAL - 95 points

Borivoj Krgin


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