A number of weeks back I got Symbolic, by Death, based on the recommendations of everyone on this site. It was certainly a good album, but I was a bit disappointed anyway, considering my expectations. About a week ago I decided to get this album because Symbolic was good enough for me to give Death another shot, and I certainly don’t regret. The same basic elements define these 2 albums, but Symbolic still really couldn’t prepare me for how good this album would be. My title to this review is no exaggeration. In my book, this album stands as one of the 2 best pure metal albums I’ve ever heard.Everything just comes together here. I wasn’t to big a fan of Chuck’s vocals on Symbolic, and they are much improved here. He uses high, shrieking vocals now, which are more powerful and eerie than his half shriek, half growl of the earlier material. Hamm and Schulinder are a simply outstanding guitar team. They are both incredible lead players and their interplay, harmonized and dual leads are simply unmatched. Their rhythm work is very strong as well, with riffs ranging from lumbering, bass-filled doom metal grooves to lightning fast thrash insanity. Richard Christy (now with Iced Earth) is a hell of a drummer, which is good, since he had to replace drum god Gene Hoglan. I don’t know who’s better of the 2, but they are both so good that it doesn’t much matter. Scott is a terrific, complex bassist who can actually be heard much of the time, which leads up to the next strength, the production. The production on this album, which is usually a weakness even on modern albums, is perfect. The guitars have plenty of power, the bass can be heard much of the time the vocals are clear and the drums have good power with out being overbearing.Every track on here except one ranges from very good to outstanding in quality.(The one that doesn’t is the closer, Painkiller, which is still good, and can be accepted as being a bit weaker as it is a Judas Priest cover.) The work here is staggeringly complex. The 8 original tracks have approximately 100 notable changes in feel or tone, which comes out to about one change every 30 seconds.(This isn’t terribly scientific, as a “notable change” isn’t a terribly scientific term, but you get the idea.) Some people might even think of this as being too progressive, as no one portion of the music is ever played for more than about 1 minute in total. The complexity makes it so that you have to listen to it a number of times before you can really put it together and fully understand it. This is classified as Progressive Death Metal, but don’t let the Death Metal tag fool you. This is much more melodic than most metal and has more in common with Swedish Melodic Death, minus the keyboards, than the other American Death bands that followed them. Not that it isn’t heavy. Contrary to popular opinion, music can be melodic and heavy at once. It’s hard to pick out standout tracks, as it is extremely consistent, but a few still manage to stand out. Bite the Pain is has a slow, tragic and mournful opening riff giving way to crushing power and anger. Story to Tell has a fantastic chorus and great solos. A Moment of Clarity is one of the more melodic tracks with the most memorable vocal work on the album and smooth, tribal drumwork. Perhaps the single most memorable song is the relatively brief and simple instrument, Voice of the Soul. It’s an all guitar piece, with acoustic guitars providing the rhythm work and some of the saddest and most beautiful leads I have ever heard.I’m just gonna cut myself off, cause I can’t really do this album justice. Just get it. It is simply unbelievable.