Description, Style and Sound

"Spiritual Healing" was the third studio album by Death. Between this album and its predecessor Leprosy, Death had undergone a small line-up change, in that Leprosy second guitarist Rick Rozz had been replaced with James Murphy. Death fans and music journalists alike have widely regarded Murphy as the first truly gifted Death second guitarist, and he is widely known for his long, melodic soloing (which, as it is, is put more on display on his more recent solo album "Feeding the Machine"). Rick Rozz had left Death because he and Schuldiner had a very strained personal relationship, and because musically, his style didn't really fit well with Death.

Musically, the album represented quite a progression since Leprosy, and James Murphy's guitar work was only part of it. Schuldiner continued to develop the hyper-speed and very complex solos that he would later be known for, and lyrically the morbidity had been tuned down a bit. The title track "Spiritual Healing" deals with the hypocricy of murder for religion, "Within the Mind" suggests that people should listen to their intuitive mental impulses, and "Living Monstrosity" is about ravaged, deformed children of drug addicts. All lyrics were written by Schuldiner, and it is obvious that he has come quite some way since the first Death album "Scream Bloody Gore". On the instrumental side, each artist performs really well (although I personally like Andrews' drum work on "Leprosy" better).

Line-up

  • Chuck Schuldiner (vocals, lead and rhythm guitars)
  • James Murphy (lead and rhythm guitars)
  • Bill Andrews (drums)
  • Terry Butler (bass)

Spiritual Healing marks the end of the brief period in which Death was considered a "traditional" band with an at least reasonably static line-up. After the release of the album and a successful tour of the United States, the other members kicked Schuldiner out, re-recruited Rick Rozz and recruited Louie Carrisalez, former drummer of Devastation, for vocals on a Europe tour in which the band was a support act for the German thrash band Kreator. The other band members helped spread various strange and false rumours about Schuldiner, including that he had started a glam band, that he was in a mental asylum, and various other unfortunate things. Back in Florida, Schuldiner took legal action to get the Death name back (not particularly hard, since he was the founder and the only member left from the beginning days of Death), and the Spiritual Healing line-up effectively disbanded as soon as the others returned from Europe. Butler and Andrews joined up with Rick Rozz and Kam Lee to form Massacre, James Murphy went on to join Obituary, and has later played with Cancer, Testament, Konkhra (although he only sent them a bunch of pre-recorded solos) and his solo project.

Schuldiner, understandably wary of having band members he didn't get along with on a personal level, contacted some of his old personal friends (Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert, guitarist and drummer of Cynic, as well as Sadus fretless bassist Steve DiGiorgio, who had filled in when Death lacked a bassist earlier) and re-formed Death for their next release, Human.

Tracklist

  1. Living Monstrosity
  2. Altering the Future
  3. Defensive Personalities
  4. Within the Mind
  5. Spiritual Healing
  6. Low Life
  7. Genetic Reconstruction
  8. Killing Spree

Release Information

1990, Combat Records