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After a streak of four killer albums, this was the first real stumble made by the mighty Floridians. David Vincent had so much character and sinister presence in the vocal realm that replacing him with a Max Cavalera-sounding wannabe was simply a bad move on Trey's part. Steve Tucker went on to develop much more his own identity vocally, but this was not an auspicious debut, in my opinion.
My biggest complaint about this album is quite simply the fact that it is too fast all the time, without the dynamics and evil, spine-chilling feel of classics like "Altars of Madness". It sounds more like a Krisiun album than Morbid Angel, not a good thing in this case. The songs are rushed and hectic (rather like the intensely shitty "Heretic"), and seem to be more about how fast and chaotic they can be as opposed to writing massive hymns to the Ancient Ones.
The lyrics are far too goofy and mysto-crapo, too, lacking the elegant darkness of the David Vincent era--Trey kind of went off the deep end in writing this one, I'm afraid. The ending instrumentals are simply throwaways, as well. If they had been spaced throughout the album more evenly, I'd have appreciated them more--chalk it up to bad sequencing, I guess. As it is, they end the album with a squeak instead of a roar.
And the production is not quite up to the standard set by past efforts as well. The bass is buried as opposed to the solid brick wall it was before, the guitars are thinner and the drums are more obviously triggered than before, it sounds like.
The songs blur into a single continuous wall of blasting and wild riffing that simply don't gel together into anything really special. I found this album disappointing, to say the least, as compared to the ones that came before and the monster that came after this one ("Gateways to Annihilation"). Then again, it ain't as awful as "Heretic" was. But this would be far from my first choice if asked to recommend a definitive MA album for a newcomer to death metal.