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
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.
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