Review Summary: Overrated but still tough
It was nice to see Death step their game up and truly tap into their full potential on Human. Sure, Scream Bloody Gore and Leprosy had been powerful enough in their own right, but Spiritual Healing was undeniably a poor release, plagued by the fact Chuck Schulinder's vocals had a weird effect found across the release that made his voice feel really out of place. So, from Human, the band, it seems, decided that regression was the best step in evolution.
This was Death's first full trip into the progressive foray hinted at in Human, and was made a little more famous from Beavis and Butthead mocking the video produced for The Philosipher and Chuck's vocals on that particular song. However, they really did manage to single out one of the things that degrades this album a little. Chuck had, by this point, lost the low growl he had on the earlier releases, which was already changing a little on Human. Instead, what we have hear is a higher pitched snarl, that does not feel at home, and makes for one awkward, disjointed listen.
Another point that needs to be brought up is the bass work. The point of making the bass audible is that it adds something to the songs themselves instead of just slotting in and merely following the guitars, but throughout this release, although the bass is audible, it does nothing to deviate from the written course of action. This truly is a shame as well, for The Sound Of Perseverance and Symbolic would both show exactly what can be done with bass work.
The songs themselves are, for the most part, above average undeniably. The Philosipher has a gorgeous solo to it, Out Of Touch has the brutal riffs, but with more of a progressive tint to them, Mentally Blind, despite its ***ty title, manages to combine progressive music with the heavy side that Death are known for. The only real weak songs are Trapped In A Corner and Destiny, both of which have lyrics that are laughable and music that does nothing to turn them into anything other than a snooze fest.
This is a good enough release, but not anywhere near on the level of what should be expected from the poster child of death metal. For one, this is not a death metal release at all, as album opener Overactive Imagination should display to any listener with a degree of competance. However, despite this, this is still a ***ing kick ass progressive metal release that deserves a small degree of respect, but nowhere near the ass kissing it gets.