I really mean that YES in all caps.
I understand Death is just doing their thing here, and that this is not everyone’s favourite Death album, but it works for me.
Now, maybe some my joy from this record is coming because it’s a palette cleanser after listening to my first 2Pac album (which I did not enjoy). Maybe I was just so relieved by loud, pummeling guitar riffs that nearly anything could have been next and the rotation and I would have fallen all over it.
But this is, to my ears, exactly what you want in a technical death metal record: lots of complicated riffs, sandwiched up against each other, precise playing but still super pummeling and, of course, there’s plenty of screaming. It’s very, very well done.
I generally prefer my metal more diverse than this kind of straight up record. (To their credit, they do deviate occasionally from the formula.) But my exception is when a band focuses on a genre (or a couple of genres) extremely well, and makes what feels like a definitive statement for that genre (or group of genres). And though I am far from the biggest death metal fan, and I freely admit that I have not listened to enough death metal (and especially technical death metal) to place this in its rightful spot in the genre, I feel like this is a pretty definitive record. Like if someone asked me to recommend a good, straight-up technical death metal record this would be a good one to reach for.
Did I mention it sounds good? Unlike so many metal albums from the early and mid ’90s, it doesn’t have an instrument that sounds improperly mixed. (The one criticism you could make is that Chuck’s voice isn’t mixed high enough, but that is not a criticism I believe in. I like it mixed where it is.)
The only reason my rating isn’t higher is because it’s 1995 and I know it’s not particularly trailblazing.