Like others, I am surprised that this record is considered such a classic. There is a tendency in internet criticism to get pretty excited by a band’s best record – or even just a band’s best record in years – and decide it is therefore a “classic”. I know nothing of Immolation but I do know a bit about death metal. And this record is, um, just death death metal.
It’s very good death metal and there’s arguably more going on in the average song than in lots of other death metal. (Though, apparently, there’s actually less than in early Immolation records. Which is something.) The growl is extremely deep. The drums are super brutal and super busy. (And quite forward in the mix compared to some records.) And the guitars are super heavy, almost to the point of sounding processed at times. (But not in a bad sense, more in the sense of how thick they sound.) The guitarists also deviate at least a little bit from conventional death metal playing in some of the riffs, which is nice. (In fact, if the drums and bass had more swing to them, it would almost groove, at times.)
But it’s just death metal, occasionally verging into technical death metal (maybe). It’s very well executed, but it’s hard to understand why a 2000 death metal album has been deemed incredibly important by a bunch of people. I’ve seen a claim that tons of death metal bands in the aughts copied this record. Um, okay. I guess that makes it a big deal if you care about aughts death metal. But, I gotta say, as someone who listens to music beyond death metal, I don’t really care about the mini trends in the 21st century within a metal subgenre that was invented in, like, 1985. It’s hard for me to know why I should care about that when there was plenty of interesting and compelling and actually innovative metal being made at the same time (metal that doesn’t sound like just a way better sounding version of early ‘s metal).
I’m not trying to be critical of this record. It’s good death metal. But it is good death metal in late 2000, 15 years into the genre’s history. It sounds really good now, because it was recorded in 2000 with better technology than early death metal bands (including Immolation) had access to.