without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
I can understand some of the reservations that other reviewers have had about "The Ten Commandments." It's not as polished or musically mature as many other early death metal bands such as Pestilence or Entombed. It doesn't have any of the progressive or jazzy influences of fellow American acts Cynic or Atheist, either. The lyrics are about as silly and predictable as you can find in death metal, recounting tales of murder, rebellion, and being buried alive. Overall, there are a lot of reasons one could find fault with this recording.
But something about this album just clicks, despite its limitations. For one thing, as I mentioned above, it's more aggressive than just about anything I've ever heard. Malevolent Creation put their foot on the gas and don't let up for ten songs. It's actually to the album's advantage that it lacks the jazz- or classical-influenced interludes that characterize Pestilence and Atheist's music. They would only ruin the flow of an already well-paced album. The opening track, "Memorial Arrangements," is an intro of sorts, but it's not a slow, ominous keyboard intro that has become stereotypical in death metal. Rather, it slowly builds up speed and intensity, perfectly setting up the beginning of "Premature Burial." The songs vary in speed and style between slower grinding numbers such as "Premature Burial" and "Multiple Stab Wounds" and raging shred-fests such as "Sacrificial Annihilation." (However, I must add that nothing is too slow or too fast to comprehend well enough to enjoy, which is an issue I have with a lot of metal bands).
All the band members give competent performances on their respective instruments, with no one instrument sticking out or overpowering the others, and resulting in an extremely unified sound. However, I would like to mention specifically drummer Mark Simpson, who employs a wider variety of patterns and styles than most death metal drummers of that era. He never strays into jazz drumming or over-the-top technicality, but still provides drum parts that change enough from song to song that after a few listens a person could probably tell the songs apart just from listening to a few snippets of the drum parts. Another notable performance is given by vocalist Brett Hoffmann, who sings with a relatively intelligible mid-range bark that is a lot more fun to listen to than either pig squeals or death grunts. On "Remnants of Withered Decay" he even throws in a few lines that are actually sung on notes rather than just shouted. I don't want to call them "clean" vocals, because they're just as raspy and yelled as the other lines, but they have discernible pitch within the key of the song, which makes them different. This is actually one of the coolest parts of the whole album, and I wish more vocalists could do this sort of "pitched yelling" thing. (Matt Pike comes to mind).
All things considered, it's a great listen and a real under-rated steal of a great early Death Metal album.