Sound — 9
Many reviewers and music critics have stated that this album is basically full of "This War is Ours" B-sides. In my opinion this album is a MUCH more solid album than TWIO as well as a fresh feel for ETF. Each and every guitar solo fits it's song perfectly. And the fact that nearly every part of this album can be called back to my memory helps me know that it's an infectious and unique album. The use of electronic effects (ex. 'Massacre' vocals) and the heaviness of the 7-string guitars show an obvious evolution from it's predecessor. Not to mention the overall dark feel of the album. There are similarities to TWIO but it stands it's ground.
Lyrics — 7
Now, I'd like to bring up the Ronnie vs Craig debate. Ronnie had only one thing over Craig, and that was his ability to write lyrics that made songs trendy. For example, take songs like The Guillotine and Situations. Both songs have lyrics that make people want to shout and participate. Craig is a very talented lyricist, don't misunderstand me, but his lyrics aren't (necessarily) going to create cult-like fanbases. As far as musicianship though, Craig owns. Craig is the more professional artist both melodically and vocally, and an album like the 'self-titled' album is beyond Ronnie's grasp. As for the 'self-titled', the lyrics are memorable. You won't forget the choruses. THEY FIT THE SONGS and they make you want to dance around or mosh, but, "Issues", the first single, has dull lyrics. Very vague lyrics about some "ISSUES" that he's got going on. Of coarse this makes for a good song for people to relate to, but it's no golden egg. The best song lyrically would have to be either 'The Aftermath' or 'World Around Me'. Both excellent songs lyrically. My personal favorite lyrics are on the Deluxe Edition track entitled, "Liars and Monsters".
Overall Impression — 9
This album sounds like ETF. It doesn't sound like anyone else. That, in my opinion, is a great achievement. Sure, you can easily determine what genre they are, but when you hear any ETF song with Craig in it, you know it's ETF. I also believe that this is my favorite album by ETF. It's just got crushing breakdowns, catchy EVERYTHING, and every bit of it is placed perfectly. There are about 3 ballads on this album and each one is different. (I'm counting Prepare Your Weapon as a ballad for it's second-half) The guitar is definitely the best Monte has ever written, nobody is debating that. Pure shredding on some songs, but never dull and he has found the perfect tone. They do not stray from typical song-structure (except for The Aftermath), but that just shows a mature band wanting to reach as many ears as possible. They haven't sold-out with this album. They got heavier than TWIO and they experimented with a few different styles. Typically a band mellows out and goes straight to the "alternative" sound when they "sell-out". It isn't easy writing a solid album. I'm a song-writer myself. Writing (for the most part) random things that sound good together like what they did in 'Dying is Your Latest Fashion', is much easier to do than writing an album with solid lyrics and melodies that fit the feel of the song. I say, go out and listen to this album song by song with an open mind. Forget about the old ETF for that time. I guarantee you will be singing these songs in your head after the second listen.