Musically, No Exit is considerably different from the band's previous efforts, incorporating strong elements of thrash metal, although maintaining the complex structures and powerful vocal performances found in the earlier albums. Although the lyrics are less influenced by fantasy themes which were predominant in the earlier albums, the philosophical element is still present.
No Exit has had two major reissues. The first was in 1992 as part of a double album with Awaken the Guardian. The second was a remastered edition containing three bonus tracks and a DVD of live material, released on September 4, 2007 to coincide with Metal Blade's 25th anniversary.
Eduardo Rivadavia at AllMusic gave No Exit four stars out of five, saying "Usually regarded as the finest release from Fates Warning's early years, when their progressive leanings were tempered with no small amount of classic metal riffing, No Exit is a typically difficult album to come to grips with." The album reached No. 111 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and remained on that chart for thirteen weeks, longer than any of the band's albums before or since. In a 2007 article by IGN, it was ranked No. 14 on their list of "Top 25 Metal Albums".