This album has always stood out from the DEATH catalogue for some reason. The type of riffing, the lyrical themes, the guitar sound, even the late, great Chuck's voice are all distinct to this album.
This record shows Chuck & Co. trying to expand the limits of Death Metal, trying to go beyond what was the standard at the time. Having acquired the services of James Murphy (OBITUARY, DISINCARNATE), they went onward, creating an album that was, at the time, considered to be a sell-out in many Death Metal fans, mainly due to the added melodies, and the substitution of subjects about death with social issues and some misanthropy.
Musically, the album is much more complex compared to the first two. The riffs are starting to get intricate, and the songs are much longer, containing more changes and melodies. A distinct DEATH songwriting 'formula' makes its debut here, ditching the typical 'Verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-verse-chorus' type for a more interesting 'intro-verse-chorus-solo-break-solo-verse-chorus' one, and the band knows when to inject a small melodic interlude that will send chills up and down your spine. The band also starts to harmonize some of its riffs, giving them a dissonant quality.
The lyrical content is also distinct about this album. Unlike the following albums, where the band takes on personal issues, and the first two, when it was mainly about gore and death (though it was more interesting than I make it seem), this one takes on socio-political issues. Plus, Chuck's voice seems a bit deeper and more sinister on this, making the riffs more brutal when he growls over them.
One thing I will complain about, though, is the rhythm. Bill Andrews seems to enjoy playing the same damn drum pattern over and over again, and I can't hear the bass at all. As we all know, DEATH's four following albums contain some of the most intricate and complex bass-lines in Metal, and each had a multi-limbed drummer capable of grooving at some of the weirdest time signatures ever. Compare that to some guy that just does the same thing over and over, in a 4/4 beat….
All complaining aside, this is an essential album. This shows the band starting to get more intricate, but they couldn't exactly pull everything off. They had the ideas, they had the direction, and all they needed was the skill. (Online December 23, 2002)