DEATH - SPIRITUAL HEALING (Under One Flag)

 

Death Metal has never been my favorite kind of music, except for a few bands. The greatest among them was Death, fronted by the driven force Chuck Shuldiner. Although their debut album ''Scream Bloody Gore'' was reviewed very well I didn't care about it that much. Many years later I learned to appreciate this record and now I value it much higher than I did in those days. The follow up album ''Leprosy'' was more the kind of stuff I adored because of songs like 'Pull The Plug' and 'Open Casket'. In a time when Thrash Metal was at its top Death delivered a more extreme sound than we used to hear, along with bands like Deicide, Possessed, Morbid Angel... Bands like Dark Angel and Slayer already discovered some new boundaries but the Death Metal scene crossed the limit and added more extremity.

 

The death of Chuck Shuldiner (RIP) makes it possible to draw a tragic line under the career of this outstanding and 'one of a kind' band. Their influences for one of the main genres in our movement are not disputable. With the release of ''Spiritual Healing'' the band  left an enormous impression behind because of the fact that, musical wise, they showed me and the world how beautiful Death Metal can sound. The opener 'Living Monstrosity' is a monstrous song to start the CD. Chuck Shuldiner once again proved to be an exceptional guitar player, lifting up his music to a higher technical level. The fast and brutal riffs sounded extremely furious and very tight. 

The mixture with progressive breaks, supported by severe bass lines and atypical but very difficult drum parts completed the intelligent structured compositions. The drum parts were so difficult it was rather impossible to find a replacer for Bill Andrews who left after this release. With James Murphy there was another extremely gifted musician in this band, as far as I know all his recordings until today were superior. The complex arrangements, played in varied tempi, gave more than a major progressive touch to Death and was later a revelation for many technical Death Metal formations. Chuck added his extreme dark grunts and so the entire album breathes agony and wrath.

 

'Altering The Future' is one of the highlights of this disc and the second solo of this song is one the most excellent I have ever heard. Until today this particular piece gives me a feeling of sadness and it makes me realize how heartbreaking it is that Death disbanded. The title track contains a hammering start rhythm and gearing it up, more than once, makes it together with the mind blowing solos sensational. All mentioned ingredients make the listener speechless and grateful for so much beauty. The album keeps on containing 'top class' tunes and so it's easy to decide this is one of the best Death Metal albums ever.

 

One of the blackest pages in the book of Heavy Metal was written at the 13th of December 2001. Chuck Shuldiner died due to the consequences of a battle he couldn't win, the struggle against cancer. Way too young this Metal God died after a life he offered for our favorite music. Writing one superb album after another he left us with a very wealthy inheritance. His side project, Control Denied, was another gem and deserves a special place in your collection. The same kind of music was played but this time the awesome traditional voice of Tim Ayar was added. I still hope a second album will be released because the Chuck's original recordings are still available. 

 

I was lucky to see Death on stage with this tour, performing as amazing as they were on disc. The thought of never seeing the band again makes me still feel depressed and leaves me with an empty feeling behind.  Death was without any doubt the most influencing group for the American and Scandinavian Death Metal scene which explored in the nineties. In my opinion they were the masters in their kind of music and until today I haven't heard a Death Metal band as imposing as Death was. 

 

My Points: 100 / 100