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With how great Onset of Putrefaction was, I thought to myself, "there's no way they'll top this", due to the way so many bands go after a magnum opus. Well, i'll just say that I was in for quite a surprise. Not only did they manage to top that release, but the managed to release what may very well be the greatest death metal album of all time. No other tech death album has caused the amount of impact that this one has.
Remember when I said that the one problem with their debut was that it felt a bit "unorganized"? If you couldn't tell, they fixed that here. It carries the demonic sound that was present on their debut and mixes it with a more focused attack, while still giving you that "I'm rotting with Muhammad" feel. Not to mention that on this album, Necrophagist are actually a band, as opposed to a one-man project. This was a HUGE load off of Muhammad's shoulders, as he could now focus on the guitarwork. The guitars on this album stand out even more than on Onset of Putrefaction, layered perfectly to accentuate the technicality while still being a brutal assault on your ears. The bass is still very audible on this album, and the tone is a bit smoother, which allows the basslines to follow the guitars closer. The drumming is layered very well, and gives this album a strong backbone to support the crazy guitar riffs and solos. The production value is amazing, which is something that can't be said for a lot of death metal albums.
Necrophagist are praised for their technical, virtuostic musicians, and it's easy to see why. Like I mentioned before, Necrophagist are now a band, so now each musician can put all of their talent into their said instrument, as opposed to Muhammad rushing to do everything. Muhammad, you are a genius. His growls are just as brutal and guttural as they were on Onset, and the guitar. Does this guy have a third arm or something? I don't know how he's able to play such technical riffs and solos, let alone SING while doing it! This guy lets out crazy tech riffs left and right. He implies all of the arpeggios and sweep picking that he did on Onset, and takes it a step further. Of course, this album wouldn't be complete without Muhammad's godly guitar soloing. Solos litter this album, as there is one on every song, and they are even better here. The classical soloing is almost emotive, similar to a cross between Chuck Schuldiner's and Yngwie Malmsteen's solos. Believe it or not, Muhammad actually found a second guitarist who can noodle on his guitar just as well as he can. I honestly don't know how Christian is able to keep up with Muhammad. He'll sometimes chime in with guitar solos while Muhammad is playing one. These dual solos are fucking amazing! They flourish, giving off a sense of pain and anger while keeping the classical feel. Stefan's bass skills are pretty underrated, due to the guitars getting most of the attention. He thumps alongside the guitarists, even soloing with the guitars! Hannes can really drum well. Since they actually have a drummer now, the drumwork is more technical than on Onset, and has less reliance on blasting. This album is even more technical than Onset, and the musicianship is as amazing as it ever was.
The songwriting really comes together here. The songs are more progressive than on their last album, with tempo changes and odd time signatures about. Again, Muhammad is an intelligent musician, so you can never expect a "regular" song here. He'll always keep you on your toes and will leave you wondering what he's going to do next. The lyrics are even more poetic than on their last record, and they also toned down the gore elements a little bit, though they definitely aren't completely gone. Every song has something that will totally rip you a new asshole. It's hard to pick a favorite, as all of the songs are great in their own way. For example, "Diminished To Be" is probably the most technical song on the album, and has a breathtaking solo. It's probably my favorite song by a hair. The jazz-driven "Only Ash Remains" opens with a bass solo, then goes into guitar wizardry, while the title track throws out dozens upon dozens of technical riffs. The grind influences from Carcass appear in the lightning quick "Stabwound", while the following track "Stillborn One", plays with different tempos before launching into hyperspeed and kicking out a solo that screams neo-classical. "Symbiotic In Theory" and "Ignominious and Pale" have some of the best lead work on the entire album. The weirdest song on the album is the aptly named "Seven" in which the main riff is played in a really fucked up time measure, almost resembling those used by Meshuggah. Despite being amazingly technical, each song is catchy enough to keep you listening. A snorefest this is not.
Amazing doesn't even begin to describe this album. This is the epitome of progressive/technical death metal. This album may very well be the greatest death metal album ever. If things keep going this way, they'll top this with their next album!