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Death - Spiritual Healing CD (album) cover

SPIRITUAL HEALING

Death

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.40 | 128 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Spiritual Healing" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US death metal act Death. The album was released through Combat Records in March 1990. Most of Deathīs career featured constant lineup changes and this time around guitarist Rick Rozz has been replaced by James Murphy (Cancer, Disincarnate, Agent Steel, Obituary, Testament, Konkhra). The rest of the lineup who recorded "Leprosy (1988)" are still intact. This lineup was shortlived too though as James Murphy was soon on to his next project and drummer Bill Andrews and bassist Terry Butler had a serious disagreement with frontman/guitarist Chuck Schuldiner, which meant that the European part of the tour supporting "Spiritual Healing" (where they supported Kreator), was completed without Chuck Schuldiner. After that tour Chuck Schuldiner took control of the Death name again and Bill Andrews and Terry Butler left to play with Massacre on the now legendary "From Beyond (1991)" album along side former Death guitarist Rick Rozz and vocalist Kam Lee. The latter mentioned also had a short stint with Death in one of the early incarnations of the band.

The music on "Spiritual Healing" is more sophisticated and technically well played than the first two Death albums. The sound production by Scott Burns (& Death) is powerful, edgy, and actually slightly "warm" sounding. The addition of James Murphy provides the band with more opportunities, and they take full advantage of his great playing skills. His guitar solos on "Spiritual Healing" are absolutely brilliant. Chuck Schuldiner is a relatively great shredder too, but itīs definitely James Murphy who steals the show on this album. The rhythm section is tight, but personally Iīve always had an issue with Bill Andrews drumming, which I feel occasionally takes power out of the music instead of injecting power and driving the music forward like the best drummers do. Itīs not a major issue though and itīs probably an aquired taste.

All 8 tracks on the album are well composed and memorable, but itīs "Living Monstrosity", "Altering the Future", and the 7:44 minutes long title track that stand strongest in my memory. Chuck Schuldinerīs now social critical/thought provoking lyrics (compared to his early bloodīnīgore type lyrics) are a new feature in the music (although such topics were also touched upon on the predecessor) and another proof (besides the instrumental part of the music) that Chuck Schuldiner evolved rapidly as a composer (and a musician) in those years.

While "Spiritual Healing" is certainly an early example of death metal from Florida, itīs not as such an old school sounding death metal release to my ears. For that itīs way too technically focused and forward thinking. Itīs one of the early forerunners of the more technical/progressive death metal albums that would be released in the early- to mid nineties even though I wouldnīt label the music on "Spiritual Healing" technical death metal by any means. But there is a sophistication here that was rarely heard in those days. Acts like Atheist and Morbid Angel maybe did something similar, but not many others. Of course only one year down the line the situation had changed completely, and more and more technically focused death metal releases came out. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved. Even for itīs seminal nature, "Spiritual Healing" isnīt a flawless release to my ears and a higher rating wouldnīt feel honest.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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