Anytime a band sets out and says they are trying to sound like another band, it almost never works out that way. It’s almost impossible to clone another act entirely because you aren’t the members that wrote the original work. Hell, even at times my band has gone directly after the All Out War sound and, although similar, it’s not entirely the same and our own influences and styles takes center stage. So naturally when I heard Matt Harvey (Exhumed) was starting up a side project that was meant to sound “exactly” like Leprosy era Death, I figured it would have a lot of similarities but wouldn’t quite hit the nail on the head of being a replica. Boy was I wrong.

Before I go any further, Leprosy is my favorite death metal record ever. Even though it was only the second record in the discography of Death, I feel this was the album that defined death metal and separated it into a genre all its own. It wasn’t as raw as Scream Bloody Gore and only in the primitive stages of becoming the technical beast that the band would go onto become. In my, as well as many others, this is THE album. Seamlessly blending thrash, groove, and technicality underneath gore centric lyrics, many have tried to clone this sound and most have failed. The genre itself has taken what Chuck started and evolved and extended its branches into directions never thought possible. However, Leprosy still remains an obvious inspiration in almost the entire genre.

Enter Gruesome. This is about as close to Leprosy as you are going to get. It’s so on point; I’d almost call it Leprosy Continued. Everything reeks of 1988 Death, the guitar licks, the big sounding drums, and even Harvey absolutely perfects Chuck’s vocals. It’s eerie how close he sounds to Schuldiner. I would say the only real difference between Harvey’s project and Chuck’s original works is that the latter is a much better lead guitarist. Not to say that Harvey doesn’t hold his own in the solo and technical department but Chuck is arguably the best death metal guitarist of all time. Although it’s somewhat unfair because I’ve been listening to Leprosy for at least 20 years, the melodic parts are much more memorable there than they are on this record. Harvey at time loses himself in some guitar neck masturbation rather than writing a catchy wizardry hooks.

If you like old school death metal and are looking to travel back in time with a new record, this is an absolute must. Right down to the production and the Eric Repka like artwork. This is perfect. As such a fan of the Leprosy record, I’m absolutely blown away about how close of a sound Gruesome has perfected to that era of Death. This couldn’t come higher recommended. Buy this and take a trip back to the 80’s when death metal wasn’t all about blast beats and gutterals.