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(Century Media Records)

Criticized by many…disregarded as musicians, treated like creators of just pure noise…1988 was a tough year for DEATH and some so called ‘specialized’ press magazines…yet, that only encouraged a more mature Chuck Schuldiner to return with a vengeance (from the grave) with its masterful second album and now a full line-up… The Leprosy…’Evil’ Chuck returns on vocals and guitars, alongside to Bill Andrews on drums, Rick Rozz on guitars and Terry Butler on bass (although Chuck told once that he did all the bass lines in this album). To be Born Dead…now, the band with mastermind ‘Evil’ Chuck at the front, attacks in a way they only know to, with deep, brutal and a bit more complex form of Death Metal. The speed found on their debut album was tuned down a little bit, yet the massive guitar attack was here, and the overall atmosphere of the album sounded more mature and macabre, and also, heavier… The Forgotten Past… Ed Repka returns to give life (or death) to the cover art, which I always thought was a bit on the pinky side, but oh well, the art itself was fitting the album’s name. The lyrics drifted now a little bit from the Gore soaked butchery found in the previous effort, and now takes more into the afterthoughts of death and some macabre happenings within mankind… To be Left To Die…the production courtesy of Morrisound studios, is a grandiose offering of pounding guitars and powerful drums, and just maybe, gets the bass a bit way too low in the mix, something which goes almost unnoticed due to the guitar tune on this one… To Pull the plug…Obviously now Chuck is allowed to have more freedom in the way the songs are arranged, the obvious references to bands like POSSESSED, SLAYER and VENOM are still there, but they are taking an undeniable form in itself, giving the band an identity. With more experience, and accomplished musicians, one can listen to a more professional entity that gives each song their very own morbid way. The guitar solos are way more elaborated than before, being adept to the music. The Open Casket…Still, after all the improvements over the debut disc, the raw, brutish aggression is here and in deadly form. The subtle melody is a bit more notorious, in part to the better production, but also by a far more complex arrangement and execution. The heaviness is also encompassed in such form, that it is something that up to this day I wonder if it was done on purpose, or because the drumming limitations of Bill Andrews. While being a competent drummer, he was not exactly that good on doing very fast parts, as those found on the early recordings, so he approached this one with less speed, thus making things sound heavier. Whatever the reason, it just added a more morbid and sick atmosphere. The Primitive Ways…after the release of this album, it was all going up for the band. Constant touring lead them to play in many places around the world, with a rabid fan base, that had found their new heroes, who came to replace the older bands which had gone in softer directions, or just disappeared from the face of the earth. Seeing DEATH live in their prime time was an experience, whereas the music did all the killing. To Choke On It…this new edition, has remastered sound (which is not that different form the already fantastic original one), it contains a completely new booklet layout, liner notes by journalist and all time supporter for Chuck, Borivoj Krgin (I still have a fanzine done by him ‘Violent Noize’ with a review for DEATH’s debut album) and 5 unreleased live songs (which happen to be ‘Open Casket’, ‘Choke On It’, ‘Left To Die’, ‘Pull The Plug’ and ‘Forgotten Past’). This was the final point for an era of the band. Their brutality and aggression, was set to be at the highest within the first two albums. It is hard for me to tell which one I prefer, but undoubtedly, this one is the most morbid and obscure release of the band and the one I head bang and do more ‘devil horn’ signs. One of the few releases I own in every format. And one of the most influential Death Metal releases of all time.

Julián Núńez

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