Just to describe my biases, I originally got into Priest back in '78 or so, right about when they released British Steel. I disliked the album, as it seemed a rather Kiss-like effort, de-Gothicizing the sound so well done on earlier albums. Now to this album: by the time I heard it twice, I thought it was the best album I'd ever heard. Sabbath's Symptom of the Universe continuing its ever-present influence! Guitar sounds are more 'present' and burning than on Painkiller. In fact, this is probably the most perfect production quality for the band I've heard. Ripper: less control than Halford, slightly, and he lets the bump transition from falsetto to main voice be heard too often, marring the quality of 'Cathedral Spires,' I thought. But the title track is the most radical and brilliant piece of music this band has ever done, or may ever do, I suspect. I think it is the zenith of their career in that respect. Downtuning and death themes: it's what made Sabbath unforgettable, and it should have been (could have been) done ever since the late 70's--much more effective for communicating the heart of metal, which is Gothicism--so this album is a welcome turn for doom and gloom purists. This album is vastly better than anything since Stained Class with the single exception of Painkiller (which itself had little of the originality of this album, Painkiller really being a pumped up version of earlier things like Exciter and Rapid Fire--no wonder Halford left).