You are right, thirdeye, that review is not fair. However is is absoutely correct. I too remember the smells of my grandfather's pit. His was a brick one though, and like most of the pits back then, the meat WAS cooked directly over the coal bed, seperated by a couple of feet. All the fat and juices did drip into the coals, and that changed the smells and the flavors.
It was not until the coming of the off set cooker that the meat was moved from directly over the coals.
I cooked for many years on a brick vertical pit in my backyard that positioned the meat over the coals, with no water[or sand] pan, so the fat could drip into the coals and rise with the smoke to flavor the meat.