Sound — 8
I'll go through the album song by song. 01. Clenching The Fist Of Dissent - this 10 minute anthem of complete metal is by far the best song on this album. Don't be deceived by the slow, calm acoustic introduction. It is soon choking on the dust of the masterful electric guitar work from Phil Demmel and Robb Flynn that follows. 02. Beautiful Mourning - the introduction of the fast-paced guitars and cymbals from Dave McClain immediately sets the scene for this song. At 4:48, this song is the shortest on the album, but that doesn't mean it doesn't contain as much as the longer songs such as Wolves or Halo. It is packed with storming riffs and excellent drum work. 03. Aesthetics Of Hate - this song comes a close second to Clenching the Fist of Dissent as my favourite song on the album. Again, it has a slow introduction, but more of a build-up than the other songs, gradually adding drums, and finally entering into the full song. This song also features one of the best duel solos I have heard from Phil Demmel and Rob Flynn, and also some skilfull bass from Adam Duce. 04. Now I Lay Thee Down - a very strange introduction to a strange song. In my opinion, the worst song on the album. Rob Flynn actually SINGS more on this song, but I don't think it works. The riff is good, as is the musical quality of the whole song, but it doesn't quite fit after the quality of the first three songs. 05. Slanderous - I love the introduction to this song. A brisk pickscrape leads into the main riff, accompanied by a single "Dimebag squeal". The disappointment of Now I Lay Thee Down is certainly forgiven once you listen to this song. 06. Halo - this is the first of three consecutive 9 - 10 minute long songs on the album, and is probably the first time you distinctively hear Adam Duce on the bass. As the song progresses, it gets slowly and slowly more and more layered, pausing every now and again to let Robb Flynn's voice shine on its own. The chorus is the attraction in this song, as Rob is singing, not screaming, and it works very well in this instance. 07. Wolves - a very quick introduction starts this song, followed by Robb Flynn's cry of "Unleash the wolves". When the song gets into full swing, you hear a very catchy duel riff from the two guitarists, accompanied by lots of artificial harmonics! 08. A Farewell To Arms - another slower song, which becomes faster and heavier towards the end. However, the difference between this and Now I Lay Thee down is very apparent in terms of skill and vocals. This song rounds the album off very well, with slow but powerful riffs and layered guitars. In all, a very decent rock/metal sound to the album.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics of this album are sometimes difficult to make out, but that doesn't mean they don't go with the music. They fit perfectly, and follow the standard of the music all the way through all 8 tracks. Robb Flynn has a unique voice and talent, as he can switch immediately from screaming and roaring powerful, amazingly gripping vocals to soft, flowing singing. The only problem for me on lyrics would be on "Now I Lay Thee Down" when I don't think that his voice works on some of the singing parts, especially the vocal solo towards the end.
Overall Impression — 10
If I compared this album to another Machine Head album, for example Burn My Eyes, I would say that I definitely prefer this. Its guitar work is a lot heavier and the solos are far more impressive. My favourite songs on the album are Clenching the Fist of Dissent and Aesthetics of Hate, the latter purely for the amazing duel solo. The things that I love most about the album are the guitar work, and also Dave McClain's skill on the drums. If I had to choose something to hate, it would be the fact that some songs can get a little boring after 8 minutes or so. If this album were stolen or lost, I would definitely buy it again!