Sound — 10
This is a very diverse album with many styles. It is bookended by parts one and two of the 25:38 epic "In The Presence Of Enemies." The album kicks off with a fast paced keyboard section followed by many time signature and musical style changes from the first part of "In The Presence Of Enemies." LaBrie also comes in sounding great. "Forsaken" is a track that seems to be pop mixed with metal. "Constant Motion" shows thrash influences and has a great solo. "The Dark Eternal Night" draws influence from metal band Pantera and contains the infamous Portnoy growls. "Repentance" is the ballad of the AA suite and contains Floydian influence and a great solo along with a voice section with many famous musicians including Jon Anderson, Steven Wilson, Daniel Gildenlow, and more. "Prophets Of War" is another poppish track which has a nice chorus and is an enjoyable listen. "The Ministry Of Lost Souls" is an amazing 15 minute ballad with amazing vocals and a heavy instrumental section that comes in at such a perfect time. If you like Sacrificed Sons from the Octavarium album, this is sort of a much improved version of it. Part two of "In The Presence Of Enemies" is very different from the first and is very dark and contains many musical changes. It is an amazing track.
Lyrics — 4
In this album, LaBrie has found his sound. He sounds very different here than ever before, but sings with a ton of power. His melodic vocals on "The Ministry Of Lost Souls" are breathtaking.Here is the reason some loathe this album. The lyrics can be embarassingly cheesy at moments. Especially in "In The Presence Of Enemies" and "The Dark Eternal Night." But I like to see it as them having fun with this album.
Overall Impression — 9
Many people cannot stand this release. However, I found this album to be a very fun and constantly entertaining ride. I don't really see why people dislike this album so much. 5 stars. If lyrics aren't a gigantic part of your enjoyability of music, than this will probably be a masterpiece for you. If lyrics are huge for you, you may want to think about this one for a bit. However, if you look past some of the cheese, this album is just mindblowing.