Tuesday, 3 April 2012

DEATH - Spiritual Healing (1990)

01  Living Monstrosity
02  Altering the Future
03  Defensive Personalties
04  Within the Mind
05  Spiritual Healing
06  Low Life
07  Genetic Reconstruction
08  Killing Spree

Spiritual Healing is the third album by death metal band Death, released in February 1990. The members of Death and their manager Eric Greif stayed in a single motel room at the Safari Inn, near Busch Gardens, for the entire six weeks the album was recorded and mixed. The album went out of print for some time, but was reissued by Relapse Records in April 2012.

When “faith healer” Peter Popoff was ousted as a fraud in the late 1980s by Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, a plethora of metal bands were quick to jump on the anti-televangelist bandwagon. When Death’s third album was released in 1990 with a now-infamous album cover featuring a man with uncanny resemblances to Peter Popoff “healing” a cancerous woman while an eccentric group of Bible-thumping zealots donate insensate praise, it was obvious that Chuck Schuldiner’s Death was blossoming into something different.

The sound here is pretty standard if you understand Chuck Schuldiner's style. Expect traditional 90's Florida-styled death metal on the more melodic side, without sacrificing heaviness or intensity. Spiritual Healing is before Death became more progressive and technical, so don't expect a whole lot of odd time signatures, rapid riff changes, and complex rhythm sections yet. Back then Death sounded somewhat similar to fellow Floridian death metal band Morbid Angel. However, on 'Spiritual Healing', Chuck took a much more melodic, slowed down style than on the first two Death albums. There aren't a whole lot of blast beats, or typical fast parts in general. I personally like this more melodic approach, as it shows more direction and attention to the compositional details.

While far from the pinnacle of Death’s lyrical achievements, 'Spiritual Healing' is vastly far removed from its two predecessors. The theme of gratuitous violence and gory occultism has been almost completely dropped in favour of a more socially aware political commentary. The lyrical content ranges from the effects that substance abuse can have on an unborn foetus in “Living Monstrosity” to dissociative identity disorder in “Defensive Personalities”, but the theme of social awareness is prevalent in each song. This album often gets ignored, largely due to the fact that it was followed by Death’s “breakthrough” album, 'Human' which went on to be one of the most revered albums in metal history. Regardless, 'Spiritual Healing' is mandatory listening for any fan of death metal. It represents a pivotal time in the growth of a genre that would ultimately spawn into something massive...

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