Sound — 10
Firstly I'd like to say I'm pretty suprised that there wasn't a review of this classic death metal album on here already. Or any other of Atheist's albums as well. Anyway onto the music, what we have here is a very different approach to your typical old school death metal. The sound can be described overall as technical death I suppose, however not in the sense of bands such as Necrophagist. No this isn't technical because of inhuman guitar solos, this is technical because of very complex song structures. There are latin and jazz influences present here which gives each song a very interesting sound to say the least. The drumming especially is influenced highly by jazz and it works, it gives this album some groove but not to the point of it being groove metal (Which for me is good as groove metal is pretty boring). Moving on to the bass, in this album it actually has a pretty good presence, it can be heard very clearly and is played with perfection. It's good to actually be able to hear the bass in such a technical album as it really adds to the overall sound. The guitar on here ranges from straight up death metal riffs that'll really bang your head to some more complex riffs which also work for this album. Oh and the intro to An Incarnations Dream has a very nice acoustic intro which is insanely catchy. But it's not each individual instrument that should be focused on in this release, it's how they all come together so well to create what is one of the best albums in the technical death metal genre as well as the entire death metal genre. Only problem is the production isn't too great, but for an early death metal album what did you expect?
Lyrics — 9
To be honest I can't really comment on the lyrics of this album much. I don't feel they are important on an album that is basically musical perfection. Sure the vocals add to the overall feel of the album but I can't say I've noticed the lyrics. However they can't be bad lyrics as I notice poor lyrics upon first listening to a song which contains them. The vocals kind of just fade into the background. For vocal style they're your typical old school death metal vocals, pretty similair to Chuck Schuldiners at times actually.
Overall Impression — 10
To sum it up this album is not only the best in Atheists discography (Well there are only 2 others, but they're both great too) but one of the best in the genre. It's complex song structures and just general good songwriting make sure it's dated well and doesn't get boring, which is a quality modern metal bands don't seem to possess much. So it is worth checking out if you're into death metal or extreme metal in general. Actually if you appreciate good musicianship in general I suggest you check it out. All of the songs are impressive, but standout tracks would be the title track, an incarnations dream, The Formative Years and Retribution. As stated earlier the only thing that brings it down a little bit is the production, but don't let that throw you off. It's the standard production you'd expect for a 1991 death metal album. Definately worth a look into!