Having enjoyed Human, but yet slightly disappointed with the overall sound of the album, I did predict that things would only get better. And lo and behold, I was right.
Taking an even bigger step from the last album, Death have now gone into even more experimental territory. And the oddest thing is that it actually works very well for them.
One of the biggest changes musically that the band has undertook was that...well, a lot more weirder stuff happens in this album. “Human”, while being quite technical and experimental, the songs did sound rather robotic. I don't know whether this was due to the mixing or the actual compositions themselves, but a lot of the songs did sound very similar at times. This album is the opposite. Don't get me wrong, the songs still have that Death sound throughout, but each song does have it's own unique characteristics.
Like all Death albums, a new line up is seen. Now, this line up really is a beast. Steve DiGiorgio is still in the band since the last album (which is pretty impressive for a member of Death), and wow. F*** Cliff Burton and any other big bass players, this guy owns them all with one hand. This guy can do stuff I could never imagine myself ever doing on a bass. Joining the band on guitar is Andy LaRocque who you may know as King Diamonds right hand man. But the big change was adding Gene Hoglan on drums. Gene, who would go on to join Strapping Young Lad, is a force to be dealt with, and can be heard very much so on this album. As time progressed, newer faces would join the folds, but this is one great line up the band had.
Lyrically the album almost acts as a concept album, with most of the songs dealing with mental issues, such as mental illness, psychosis, religion (yes, it is a mental issue) and other things to do with your brain. Oh, what a brainy bunch of lads.
If you listen very carefully, while comparing this album to earlier Death releases, Chuck's vocals seem to be getting higher. Believe me, in the next two albums
The album opener “Overactive Imagination” is a very...overactive song. A lot is going on and a lot of crazy stuff can be heard now and then. Typical Death style really.
The album suprisingly also has a rather jazzy sound at times. This can be heard in the title track and also in “Jealousy.” Drums and bass do an amazing job and the weird amalgamation does suprisingly work very well.
One of the other classics on this album is “Trapped In A Corner.” In fact, this song has what the album has a lot of, and that's kick ass riffs. The riff in this song is one that will definitely stick with me for a very long time.
The albums longest composition “Mentally Blind” is one of the most impressive songs on the album. Great use of build ups throughout and throughout the song, it reminds me of Slayer's “Seasons In The Abyss”, with the use of rather middle eastern sounding riffs.
The album's closer “The Philosopher” is another classic Death song. The main riff is definitely up there with classic metal riffs. Lyrically I think the song is about Aleister Crowley, but it's not really important. The music also has a music video, and also was parodied by Beavis & Butthead. Worth a watch if you want a laugh. The bass solo at the end also proves how much of a machine Steve DiGiorgio
In conclusion, this album completely surprised me. I knew things would get a lot better, but I didn't expect them to get this good so fast. I know the next two albums take the band's genius to even more extremes, but I was really blown away by some of the tracks on this album. This album might get a bit overlooked if I'm honest, but this is a total Death classic.
RIP Chuck Schulinder