Released: 2012, Relapse Records
Time for another killer remaster! Over the last 2 years Chuck Schuldiner’s former manager and intellectual property owner Eric Grief has been painstakingly remastering, remixing (in some cases), and digging out live performances and demos for special re-releases of the Death catalog that are available through Relapse Records. Now 1990’s SPIRITUAL HEALING has gotten the deluxe treatment! Metal fans rejoice! One of the best metal albums of all time has just gotten better and Eric pulled out all of the stops in the 3 disc deluxe edition. The re-release is available in 2 disc and 3 disc formats like HUMAN, INDIVIDUAL THOUGHT PATTERNS, and THE SOUND OF PERSERVERENCE.
Let’s go back to 1990 for a minute. Up to that point Chuck had pretty much invented the death metal genre with 1987’s SCREAM BLOODY GORE and then followed it up with the brutal LEPROSY in 1988. What to do now, continue on the brutal path or start to experiment? Chuck continued to develop as a guitarist and musician and began composing longer, more complex, intricate song structures that still unmistakably had the Death sound. At the same time, Death’s lineup became more solid as bassist Terry Butler (Massacre, Obituary) and drummer Bill Andrews (Massacre) stayed in the lineup after LEPROSY. Death was also strengthened by the presence of guitarist James Murphy (Obituary, Cancer, Disincarnate, Testament). SPIRITUAL HEALING isn’t as brutal as its 2 predecessors, but it is still death metal and more importantly it was the transition into progressive metal that Chuck would continue until his untimely death in 2001.
Disc 1 is a remaster of the original album, not a remix which I am very happy about. The album sounds exactly the same, just louder, clearer, and more distinct. It’s sounds marvelous, possibly the best remastered disc I have ever heard and I’ve heard a lot. The only difference on the album I noticed are Chuck’s long growls on “Within The Mind” sound slightly enhanced on the new version. To me, the first 6 tracks are just classic, timeless metal. The 7 minute centerpiece of the album, “Spiritual Healing” is just an amazing track with beauty and brutality. “Altering The Future” is my favorite on the album and “Low Life” just kicks ass. The final 2 tracks “Genetic Reconstruction” and “Killing Spree” aren’t quite on the same level as the other tracks, but they are still solid, quality Death songs. No filler here folks!
Disc 2 contains demos from the Spiritual Healing recordings. Sound quality is decent, some tracks have vocals and some do not. I like this kind of stuff because it gives you a window into how the album was recorded and how songs were developed. There are also several jams on this disc, some of which don’t sound anything like Death’s music but are an interesting listen nevertheless. Disc 3 has a live concert from the Spiritual Healing tour. Sound quality is rough and there is some distortion so it is best to listen to this at a medium volume. It’s very cool and the musicianship and Chuck’s vocals are quite impressive. I also enjoyed the stage banter. The end of the third disc includes rehearsals of songs that would appear on 1991’s HUMAN, very cool to hear these tracks in their infancy.
If you have read this far, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just go out and pick up a copy of this metal masterpiece!