Death's music on this album was incredibly progressive. Showing a technicality and melodic sensibility that was largely lacking in the initial albums by the band. That's not to say that they were bad albums, but this album has to be considered in a completely different light than their material that pioneered the death metal genre. The melodies are the key on this album, rather than the crushing monolithic riffs of their prior material. The guitar leads and solos sound amazing and Schuldiner's voice is higher-pitched and desperately emotional this time around.
What makes this truly an extraordinary album is the emotional impact. Chuck Schuldiner was dying when this was written and recorded. The album is incredibly spiritual and reflects the mortality of its writer. Songs like "Story to Tell" and "Spirit Crusher", as well as many of the other tracks deal with the personal journey of slowly succumbing to brain cancer. This album is amazing because even though Schuldiner was dying, he still managed to portray some uplifting emotions in it.
To close, I want to reprint the lyrics to "A Moment of Clarity":
I would describe it as an invisible darkness
Casting a shadow, a blinding black
Guarded by hope, my soul is kept from
The bloody claws
Look to beyond, what vision lets me see
Time after time, unneeded misery
Holding tight to my dreams
I own no price for you
I grip them tight and hope for sight
Open my eyes wide to see a moment of clarity
Confusion gone, it's in your hands
Your turn to ask why
Life is like a mystery
With many clues, but with few answers
To tell us what it is that we can do to look
For messages that keep us from the truth
Chuck Schuldiner died of brain cancer in 2001, just three years after this album was released.