This album was not easy to get into for me. It was a far cry from what I had expected it to be, as I had read guitarist Phil Fasciana saying it would be another "Retribution", and while I still don't own that album (kill me kill me kill me!), I have heard it enough times to know that this album sounds nothing like it. Not that that's a BAD thing, but I was somewhat disappointed at first.
Featuring the return of former vocalist Brett Hoffman, who left the band before 1995's "Eternal" album, this naturally sounds very different from the albums with Jason Blachowicz singing, their voices are a night-and-day difference. To be honest, I think Hoffman sounds like he hit the bong a little hard in those years on hiatus. His voice is raspy, weak, and quite lacking in power (he would improve upon this on the next MALEVOLENT CREATION-album). This was my first disappointment with "TFAOM", the second was the guitar riffs. While getting Rob Barrett back on 2nd guitar duties was an infinitely wise decision, Fasciana just didn't churn out as many killer riffs as on the preceding MALEVOLENT CREATION-opus "In Cold Blood". That's not to say that there aren't some great songs here, opener "To Die Is At Hand" kicks off in classic MALEVOLENT-fashion, fast and furious. "Instinct Evolved" showcases a nice melodic side to MALEVOLENT CREATION that had previously been unexplored, and the title track even contains some eerie keyboard-stirrings against a slow, brooding backdrop of delicate drum patterns. Not my thing, kinda cheesy almost, but the intentions are admirable. There also is no shortage of faster numbers, as "Dissect The Eradicated", "Bone Exposed", and "Purge" are just a few of the true-to-form songs that steam along at dizzying tempos.
Also re-enlisted behind the drums is none other than Dave Culross, who is obviously more than capable of achieving the speed this band's music demands. Apparently he came in, on a moment's notice, and recorded these songs in a few days without having heard them more than 1-2 times, how's that for professional? I love this guy! However, the general vibe of the album slightly suffers from this, as it sounds very rushed. One can tell that the band didn't rehearse together much before going into the studio for this. The production also doesn't do much for me, as the guitar sound is horribly muddled. The mixing job could have been the real deciding factor there though, as it seems to lack the higher and lower frequencies, whereas "In Cold Blood" sounded like a musical sledge-hammer. Following up such an intense, brutal album as that was an off-putting task either way, and sadly this doesn't quite cut it for me. It lacks the homicidal vibe which I loved so much about its predecessor...
Still, though, this is a good album! It's no classic, but it's pure MALEVOLENT CREATION, and what more can I ask than that? This definitely makes a worthy addition to my collection, and retains my patented seal of "highly recommended," without a doubt.