The Death re-releases series from Relapse is such a great opportunity to revisit memories of bygone days, of youth wasted in my mate John's basement with friends who smoked too much weed, of dreams of being able to play heavy music like our heroes in Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Bathory, Carcass and, yes, indeed, Death.
Where 'Human' (1991) for me is the Death album where everything came together perfectly and forever branded itself into my metal soul as one of the most prominent death metal albums of all time, 'Spiritual Healing' has a different place in my heart. It was more accessible than its two predecessors ('Scream Bloody Gore' (1987) and 'Leprosy' (1988)) and struck a nerve for me as I moved from Maiden/Manowar/Metallica/Megadeth/Sepultura/Slayer to the still relatively new subgenre of death metal, i.e. the genre this very band spawned the marketing title for.
I was craving this stuff as were my peers in that basement and at the gigs I started going to. Death, Pestilence, Carcass, Macabre and Napalm Death opened a new and more brutal world for us. Morbid Angel, Bolt-thrower and Deicide came along too, and many, many more were to follow. The gates to hell were blown wide open and death metal kept pouring in, it seemed.
If you listen to songs like Living Monstrosity, the intense opening tune of the album, the title track or, indeed, Genetic Reconstruction, it's obvious that there's material on this album which will always stand the test of time. Catchy riffs and melody come together with brutality and lyrics which, unlike those of so many other death metal outfits, holds a thought-through message without turning into closet philosophy.
The new reissue contains a remastered version of the original album, and even from the mp3 promo version I have, I can hear how 'Spiritual Healing' has been treated with a well-deserved and respectful clean-up. It sounds fantastic and as dynamic as ever. This album comes from a time before things got too technical and before Protools, and this is so clearly a BAND who plays a bunch of amazing songs, building on the work they did before, heading for new levels even higher than this.
The bonus material for this release is extensive and some of it very entertaining as well. Especially the Primus jam is quite surprising and funny, and so is the crude Satanic jam as well as the five (!) versions of the odd pop/rock joke tune Jon A Qua.
No matter how many bonus tracks and stuff Relapse are kind enough to saturate the release with, fact remains that the original album was a milestone in metal and it is exactly those first eight tracks that stand out as the most interesting and captivating thing about this release - even for an old fart like me who've banged his head to these songs a zillion times or so since 1990.