The first time I saw Between the Buried and Me live was at The Gramercy Theatre in New York City, during a tour for their then-newly released Colors(Victory Records) album; it was a pivotal period for the group who had, at that time, seen a series of lineup changes in short order. Five drummers, four guitarists, and three bassists later, the band was shaping their sound to dull the edges from the ever-aggressive Silent Circus (Victory Records) and Alaska (Victory Records) albums to an arguably more technically complex, albeit at times mellower, Jazzy era that would set the tone for the rest of their musical trajectory as we know it today. Continue reading
The back-story of Megadeth’s debut album, released in 1985, is possibly even greater than the impact that the album itself would go on to have. Possibly. For this is a damn fine and damn influential album. Fired and wired, Dave Mustaine set out to make a faster, more technically proficient, and a better album than anything his former employers Metallica had done. He was also hell-bent on proving them wrong in their assertions that he was too hampered by his vices to perform his six-string duties. And perform his six-string duties he did, indeed. However, his and band’s mass consumption of alcohol and other less-than-legal substances put such a dent in the budget of the recording of the album that the producer was fired, and the band produced the record themselves. The results were, aurally, insufficient – even with added funds to try and save the recordings. Continue reading
It’s hard to believe there was a time when Voivod took top billing above the likes of Soundgarden and Faith No More, but in 1990 that’s exactly what happened. The Canadian Thrash Metal pioneers were at the top of their game and seemed almost unstoppable, their lofty position due in no small part to the trifecta of albums which had preceded the release they were touring at the time – 1989’s Nothingface (MCA); an unholy trio of seminal albums that have been lovingly re-mastered and re-released by BMG. Continue reading
For any fan of old Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Entombed and the first two Cattle Decapitation albums, this is for you. Originally found on as a demo entitled Swallow The Symmetric Swab and a mini-album Nookleptia (Morbid Records), the songs on the 11 track compilation Swallow This (Svart) are remastered for this release to show the bands fully formed ideas of how the songs were supposed to sound on the original tape and vinyl pressings in 1993. Continue reading
Death were a band so good and pioneering that the Death Metal genre may as well have been named after them. Their place in extreme metal’s hall of fame had already been cemented long before front-man and guitarist Chuck Schuldiner‘s death in 2001, but reminders of the man’s greatness are always welcome. The Death back catalogue is undergoing the reissue treatment, with the sophomore 1988 album Leprosy (Relapse) the latest to be re-released in two and three disc editions.
The first disc consists of the original album, remastered. As a bona fide classic there’s not much to say about it that hasn’t been said before. It is old school Death Metal, mixing thrash with musical brutality and Schuldiner‘s evil bark, taken to a new level of extremity not heard before. A swirling mass of rapid riffs and time changes, it set an impeccably high standard for others to try and follow. Whether it’s ‘Pull The Plug’ or the menacing ‘Choke On It,’ this is the sound of a genre being defined. The band may have moved onto to more adventurous grounds, but Leprosy remains an essential part of Death Metal history. The new remastered sound has an extra crispness but keeps the atmosphere of the original release, inviting you to play it even louder.
Disc Two is a collection of demo tapes from a couple of rehearsal sessions. Obsessive completists will no doubt be chomping at the bit to listen to these, but there is little here of interest for the average listener. The sound is raw and muddy and few will particularly relish hearing rough versions of ‘Left To Die’ multiple times in a row. It provides a nice insight into the band’s recording process, but for most this won’t be essential listening.
Disc Three, however, proves more interesting, featuring live recordings from two shows: Backstreets in Rochester, New York and The Dirt Club in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Little more than glorified bootlegs, the sound is rough around the edges, but it captures the energy of a band on the rise. The changing volume levels and voices occasional talking over the music add to the bootleg quality, and as a little bonus has a few tracks from their debut Scream Bloody Gore sprinkled in the set lists. Better than the rehearsal disc, this still needs to be labeled under ‘one for the hardcore fans.’
Even after 26 years and countless imitators,Leprosy still sounds vibrant and essential, putting the majority of today’s Death Metal acts to shame. But, as with all reissues of classic albums, the question is always “Is it worth buying it?” And the answer is usually the same: if you haven’t already got a copy, get it. If you’re a Schuldiner worshipper, you’ll get it no matter what the reviews say. And if you’re a casual fan who already has the original, probably not.
10.0 / 10.0
Bonus Disks 6.0 / 10.0