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I would definitely rate this Morbid Angel's best composition, but unfortunately, there's a couple of problems with the album. Firstly, the production sounds a little plastic, with Pete Sandoval's snare sounding a bit unnatural, along with other instruments. Secondly, the base drums on "Opening Of The Gates" are apparently quantized by Trey to sound like 16th notes, rather than the original triplets that were on the album (much to Pete Sandoval's disdain). Those are my only problems with the album. Glad I got the negatives out of the way, now for the positives, and why I consider this Morbid Angel's best album composition wise.
This album may at first seem slow and plodding, especially considering the past albums by Morbid Angel, especially albums like Covenant and Formulas Fatal to the Flesh. Those albums usually incorporated blast beats as a staple of most of the songs, and the lack of blast beats on this album may annoy some (although there are plenty of blast beats on this album). But remember this: In the death metal's early years, blast beats weren't as present as they are today, with Altars of Madness being one of the first death metal albums to include blast beats (and World Downfall, if you consider that death metal). Death metal bands that did implement blast beats usually included them in key parts that expressed a songs more more intense parts, like in Chapel of Ghouls off of Altars of Madness, or Dead by Dawn by Deicide, off of their debut. That's generally how this album handles blasts. Ageless, Still I Am (My favorite song off of this album) handles blast beats extremely well, I think, generally having them apart of the chorus.
The songs you'll most likely find to be the most slow and plodding will be songs like He Who Sleeps and At One With Nothing. They generally take a more atmospheric brutality approach to the music, like early Vital Remains albums. Listening enough to the songs, you'll get to know and love them, and feel the atmosphere that the song writers were trying to convey.
The faster songs on the album are very groovy, like the intro to To The Victor The Spoils. The riffing is generally dark, and the production makes it sound very dark. God Of The Forsaken is the last song on the album, and it's where Pete Sandoval shows us that he's the king of blasting. Opening of The Gates is one of my favorite songs off of the album, but while the 280 bpm kicks sound nice, what's the price? Artificial base drums? This is definitely a negative on the album.
This album is a bit underrated to me, definitely deserving more praise than it's gotten. I would recommend it to any death metal fan.