Sound: Pure Reason Revolution was hailed upon its debut release "The Dark Third." Described as a perfect blend of new and old progressive ideas and PRR was on the fast track to being the new big Prog-band. I personally prefer "The Dark Third" over any Dream Theater album and it is on the same level as Porcupine Tree in my opinion.
Then we have "Amor Vincit Omnia." The very first sounds of the album prove that this is no "Dark Third." What are the first few sounds? Gritty, electronic synths. The album open Les Malheurs proves that PRR will not be working the same territory so much. Though it is one of the more electronic tracks (lacking almost any guitar), it still retains elements such as the masterful harmony vocals.
The next track Victorious Cupid sounds much more similar to "Dark Third" PRR, using similar guitar hooks and keyboard styles, but that is the last you will hear of the old PRR. The rest of the album throws Kraftwerk like electronics at you. And no doubt, there are plenty of fans of the first album which will not welcome this.
The sound has changed another way as well. One of the most amazing parts of "The Dark Third" was how it used vast amounts of space in each song to create a wonderful ambiance and then something would surprise you, whether it a guitar hook, an amazing vocal blast or a strange keyboard line. "Amor" still has a few of those moments, but I can honestly say none of these songs feature ambiance on the frontlines. Instead in its place is a grunge-esque, sometimes dance-able, energy. Which is actually quite welcome. Though it makes me sad that the ambiance was truly abandoned. // 8
Lyrics: If you asked me what album I thought had the most perfect vocal production, I would say "The Dark Third" Singers Courtney and Alper's voices blend perfectly well together and with all the vocal harmonies it just sounds like heaven.
Amor Vincit Omnia retains much of these elements, but loses some as well. Complaint #1: Courtney dominates the sound. Not that he has a bad voice, it's just that I liked how Alper and Courtney shared the terrain so well on "The Dark Third." Instead Courtney takes full lead vocals for the majority of the album, in the second half of the album Alper is barely heard.
Complaint #2: The vocals are not used as instruments like the last album. In the previous album, there were entire sections where Alper and Courtney's vocals criss-crossed, combined and just acted as a real part of the music. These moments are massively understated on "Amor."
And my final Complaint #3: The lyrics themselves turn dry after Deus Ex Machina. Mostly the line "Did you feel love, did you ever find Avalon." This repeated more times after Deus Ex Machina's end than any one could have predicted. Leading me to believe that the second half the album is made mostly of bad remixes of Deus Ex Machina. The vocals are still good, they just aren't truly amazing. // 7
Overall Impression: I guess the point of the review is... PRR didn't make a terrible softmore album, but it is nowhere near "The Dark Third." The electronics do work with PRR's music, but at times they feel shoved down the listener's throat. Another sad point is that there is no real bass on the album, only electronic, flat bass. There are definitely high points on the album. Tracks 1-5 are awesome and proved to me that the electronic sound could work. Apogee is certainly the high point of the album to me. But then we have the second half of the album, which like I said repeats lyrics from Deus Ex Machina and much of it sounds like a bad remix. Disconnect in particular is completely unbearable. It sounds like someone tried to remix PRR with a terrible Kraftwerk sound. The Gloaming is the only track with any space, but it bores the listener as the only thing really going on is Courtney's repeated moan of "Gloaming." The titular track and album ender saves the second half however. The first half still sounding like a remix, but a good remix however and the second half of the song bursts open with a sound reminiscent of "The Dark Third," heavy guitars and all. But Courtney does one last stale monotone line at the end to remind the listener of what has just happened. PRR have abandoned their old sound, I can only hope they hone their new sound better than this on the next album. // 7