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★★★★★
(76 Reviews)

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  • Death was unquestionably one of the, and arguably the primary innovators of the death metal genre, but it was with this album that Death truly built their legacy as one of the greatest metal bands ever. This marked a new phase for Death, turning them from a band into essentially a Chuck Schulinder solo project, with every song on this album, and all future Death albums, being written by Chuck alone. This also marked the beginning of a series of releases of rare, extraordinary quality culminating in the release of the phenemenol Sound of Perseverance, which I consider to be the best Death album, and one of the few greatest albums ever recorded by anyone. If you haven’t heard any Death, that is perhaps a better place to start, but this fantastic release still belongs in any metal fans collection, and is probably my second favorite Death album.Though Death was initially a pure Death metal band, this release and all future Death releases are better described as progressive death-thrash, perhaps leaning a bit more towards the thrash side. It’s difficult to say why this is, other than to say that it feels more like thrash than death, to me anyway. Though it maintains much of the increased brutality of death metal, the riffs are very thrashy structurally, and they are always clean and crisp, not blurry and noisy as they tend to be in fast death metal. As a whole the riffs come a cross as a stylistic melding of those found in Reign in Blood and Beneath the Remains. Similarly, the drumming tends to be more thrashy, avoiding the blast-beat style drumming also common to death metal. Speaking of the drumming, Sean Reinert of Cynic is a fantastic drummer, though I prefer the later work of Gene Hoglan and Richard Christy. Sean doesn’t seem to have as much personality stylistically as do those 2. To his advantage, he is probably the most accomplished double bass drummer I’ve ever heard, with even more extensive use of them than the latter 2. He can do them incredibly fast, but still mixes up the tempos more than any drummer I’ve heard. The rhythm guitar work is excellent as well, some of the fastest and most technically accomplished work around. Chuck seems unable to write an uninteresting riff. The solos/leads are good, but not great, and not nearly as good as they’d become just one album later. They still have their moments, particularly on the instrumental Cosmic Sea and and Lack of Comprehension. The bass is, sadly, pretty much MIA except on the aforementoined Cosmic Sea, where he does a nice, if short solo. Chuck’s inimitable vocals fit the music very well, and he writes some thoughtful lyrics.The only real conceivable complaint against this album is that other than the relatively mellow instrumental it has little variety. The intensity rarely relents, and it tends to focus on the extremely fast tempos, though every track drops down to more mid-paced tempos at leat occasionally. However, though it lacks variety, it is very consistent, with the track quality ranging from very good to brilliant. The opener, Flattening of Emotions is probably my favorite track, and is the fastest and most unrelentingly intense track on the album, though it still has a very memorable chorus. The next track, Suicide Machine, is another standout. A bit slower, though it still knows when to kick it up to speed and its got another strong chorus. Lack of Comprehension is another speedy number, with some nice stuttering, jumpy riffs and short leads thrown in as well.(It also has the best solo on the album.) Anyway, enough about the individual tracks. They all rule.Thats really about all I got to say. Truly, a great metal album. Get it.

    Posted on January 31, 2010