Sound — 10
Being a pretty big fan of Coheed And Cambria, this album was exactly what I wanted out of a record from them. It had epic sound similar to the massive auditory onslaught from last years "Year Of The Black Rainbow", but avoided the pitfall of that record by sounding far less tense and overly serious. The poppy "Goodnight, Fair Lady" is a throwback to the sound of "Feathers" or "The Suffering" from previous records, which is a very welcome return. A progressive metal sound also permeates the album in songs like "Domino The Destitute" or "Holly Wood The Cracked"; they contain the chugging, heavy riffs that frontman Claudio Sanchez is known for churning out, and they sound as fresh as ever. The snake-like "Mothers Of Men" has a great Iron Maiden-tinged riff, and the stadium-bound "Vic The Butcher" has a chorus that will have you speeding down the highway at 70. However, the album isn't all masculine pomp and circumstance. There are several folky-electronica moments on the album such as "Evagria The Faithful" and "Subtraction", which visit a sound similar to that of Sanchez's side-project, the Prize Fighter Inferno.
Lyrics — 9
Though the album is part of an overarching story, the story would be almost indecipherable if not for the cover, art within the liner notes, and the announcements of the band itself. The lyrics of the album, however, are stunning, including my favorite from first single "Domino The Destitute": "Ladies and broken gentlemen, the undisputed champ of misery, and in chis corner, we find his challenger, the pride of Utopia, the greatest thing ever." Though Claudio's singing voice has been rather polarizing in the past, his melodies and narration of the story of Sirius Amory and his discovery of the Keywork (long story) are better than ever.
Overall Impression — 10
In summary, this is some of the best material that Coheed And Cambria have ever produced, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of this band, this genre, or rock music in general. Though the album is fairly balanced, and the songs on the record are all amazing, my favorite moments on the album come with the amazingly dynamic flow that the band creates, such as the bridges and breakdowns of songs like "Domino The Destitute" and "Holly Wood The Cracked", as well as the soft, flowing verses of "The Afterman", and the funk-y riffs in "Evagria The Faithful". An extremely well done album by an extremely talents band.