There was a time when I'd hang out with my buddies Claus and John in John's room in the basement of his parents' house. Claus and John would smoke a bit and perhaps have a beer or two. I refrained from both of those things, but we did venture into something else together: the discovery of new and more brutal music. We listened to early Sodom, Carcass, Bathory and Napalm Death along with, of course, Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer. These bands eventually lead to us buying instruments and starting to play ourselves (without having ever taken lessons or anything, mind you, we were a pain for sensitive ears, that's for sure).
And then there was the band that had given name to the genre we were listening more and more to: Death. 'Leprosy' was like a bomb exploding between our teenage hands in, oh, must have been sometime in 1989, i.e. not too many moons after the release of the album. We'd heard Open Casket on a sampler which I've since forgotten the name of, and it blew us away completely. The same sampler introduced us to Bathory, by the way. 'Leprosy' was definitely an album we had to get hold of!
The brutality of songs like Pull the Plug and the title track of the album was breathtaking, but it was more than just brutality with this band from Florida. They did something else than just being fast and scream their way through the album. There was a majestic edge to Chuck and Rick Rozz' riffing, a different intensity from the other bands we listened to, and fullness, a roundness of the sound, even if Scott Burn's production was rumbling. What that did was to make it more dynamic and live, I guess.
What this all boils down to is that for me, this was and is one of the albums that defined my musical taste - and for that I hold 'Leprosy' immensely dear. Along with all of Death's albums, save 'Scream Bloody Gore', which I never quite adored as much as the rest, 'Leprosy' belongs in the cannon of metal for me. Without Death and the work of Chuck Schuldiner, metal music would have been a poorer genre.
The deluxe edition reissue of 'Leprosy' from Relapse is a big package and one true collectors will want. You could argue that it lands in an odd place with its two extra CD's (!) with rehearsal versions of all songs as well as live recordings of the songs from two club gigs. A reissue of the album with a remastered and improved sound (but still with the authentic rumble) is a great way to attract attention from new fans who haven't been introduced to Death before, but I seriously doubt that the less than amazing sound quality of the demo versions and the live recordings will convince anyone of the greatness of one of the best bands ever. To be honest, I'll probably not be listening to the two extra CD's again. Been there, done that, I'll stick with the album proper.
Anyway, as a collector, I'll get it, and I can of course only recommend death metal fans to check out this testimony of what was going on in the cradle of a metal genre back in the 1980s.