Review: Leprosy
Magazine: Metal Hammer / Italy
Written by: Luca Signorelli
Published: December 1999

THE Death Metal band, the group that took thrash and made it take a step forward. It was all created by Chuck Schuldiner, the very young (he's just 16!) and problematic kid from Altamonte Springs with a mania for guitar. And the mania for death, somebody would add: because he not only gives his band a simple and unambiguous moniker, but his first records ('Scream Bloody Gore' and this 'Leprosy') are an absolute triumph of sonic extremism and monstrosities thrown to cover and lyrics. It's the birth of Death Metal, the thrash raised to another power (but without religious, philosophical and political implications of Black Metal) and purified of every remnant of funny and amused attitude, to be exclusively death, physical decline and pain. Although critics shrug their shoulders and label Death as "noise-ists" (perhaps not inaccurately, considering the unspeakable mess of 'Scream Bloody Gore'), the most attentive ones will notice how in 'Leprosy' the band (disc by disc changed by the Napoleonic Chuck) has different ideas.

Also due to an intelligent production by Dan Johnson, who, and here it's worth to note it - was famous having produced more metal-metal oriented bands like Crimson Glory. Because the contradiction of Death (but of many others death bands too) is just here: they play impossible music, but NEVER losing an eye on traditional metal - whether Judas-style whether Maiden-style. And maybe this is the big strength of these bands - try to look at the future never forgetting the past, refuse it, but not even clinging to it stubbornly (as instead will do all the Bavarian-fantasy-beer-junkie bands of neo-power wave).

With this all the 'Leprosy' offspring is still immature, but with an absolutely untenable impact. Again in the following years there will be very few records with "extreme" label so much at sight - to transmit a so monstrous sensation of death at work. And there's not yet the analytic detachment of Carcass' 'Necroticism' or the sad refinement of Swedish-style bands (the Gothenburg school). There's only death and rot, darkness and horror. That sometimes touches on sublime ('Primitive Ways'), sometimes on untenable ('Pull The Plug') and sometimes - unavoidably - on ridiculous ('Open Casket'). On foreground Chuck's vocals, on the contrary, it would be better say his strangled roar. It's still disputing about who invented growl, but surely very few made it as disturbing as Chuck. And - for the most attentive - there's his guitar, which record by record took incredible steps forward. Who had ever say that in some years brutal Death "shock tactics" would have become one of the most mysterious and indescribable subjects of metal?

Luca Signorelli


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Translated by VC/MM for EmptyWords-Published on January 14 2003