Supposedly this copy was remastered, and it does sound clearer. The original release sounds quite a bit muddy to me--this one's a little easier on the ears.
This is one of my favorite CDs, one of the few that I can listen to from start to finish and enjoy the whole thing. Sometimes when bands try to make a concept album, it ends up sounding cheesy. Not this one. The lyrics are fantastic--dark, saddening at times, makes you kind of mad at the 'system', just like Nikki (the album's subject).
Geoff Tate's vocals make it all seem real. He's got probably the best voice in heavy metal. He puts a lot of emotion into his singing, which makes the album's plot sound a lot more convincing. When listening to this album (especially with a set of headphones...sitting in the dark), it seems like it's all real.
The whole recording is great, but my favorite tracks are the last five. I love how the album ends.