Ahh, yes…….SUFFOCATION. The gods of Brutal Death Metal. Frankly, calling them that does them a huge disservice. These guys are amongst the greatest musicians and composers ANY type of music has ever seen. And this album is nothing short of amazing.
Let me complain about certain things about this album now, so we'll get the unpleasant part out of the way. The production is lacking the mid-range, and when the drums start blasting, the guitars start to get drowned out a bit, although you can still hear the riffs if you try hard enough, and if you're patient (meaning: you don't dismiss this as "noise" the first time you hear it). And Frank Mullen sounds muddy only in a few certain instances. Something bizarre: is it just me, or are certain lyrics are MISSING from the booklet? Like after the first verse of "Liege Of Inveracity", there is one that's not printed. Does your CD booklet have this problem? Mine does.
A certain remark, not a complaint, is that the drums are not as complex as the ones heard on "Despise The Sun" nor "Pierced From Within". However, this CD was released during the infant stages of Death Metal, and not many drummers were attempting many fast and crazy techniques back then, as it is the norm nowadays.
Although this album doesn't have the production values nor the amazing drumming featured on their last two albums, this is, guitar-wise, their best. The song-writing talent of the band has reached its peak on this album. The riffs are long, quirky, technical, and well thought-out and feature amazing interplay between down-picking and tremolo picking. In addition to that, they are catchy in some weird, dissonant and un-hummable way. Plus, the entire songs flow like water (or blood, if that's what you fancy) and with no awkward pauses in riffs. How can you not bang your head during the verse riffs of "Jesus Wept" or the title track of the album? Technical riffs galore and amazing shred solos!!!!! How can you resist? The drumming (thankfully!) doesn't go into a monotonous one pattern beat. It's always changing and keeping up with the riff changes, rendering the music much more interesting. Frank Mullen sounds like a beast in this, adding to the "wall-of-noise" effect the band wants to achieve. The man sounds brutal and he does not ruin the rest of the music. And the lyrics? They deal with the "typical" Death Metal subject matter: Death, end of the world, atheism, etc. This band, however, writes them in a way that makes them poetic! The bass is present as well. It can be heard throughout most of the album, playing around the guitars, and adding to the beautiful and perfectly constructed percussive onslaught that the band presents.
This band is proof that most bands that decide to play any extreme type of music will only get worshipped by few. And this few keep hailing this band for being "brutal" and "technical" (well, a good deal do, anyway). Is that all these people see in this band? Listen closely……..Death Metal can be more than just "brutal" or "heavy". If done right, it's a divine (diabolical?) work of art. (Online October 24, 2002)