Sound — 9
The second album of the band. Vocalist/Bassist Greg Lake, Wind/Brass/Keyboardist Ian McDonald and Drummer Michael Giles announced their desire to depart after the predecessor "In The Court of the Crimson King"; Lake to form Emerson Lake & Palmer, and McDonald and Giles to pursue a new direction of their own. Even though the band had broken up, most still appear on the album. Lake agreed to sing (although Michael Giles' brother Peter played bass), and Giles agreed to drum. Other musicians appear as well, including Mel Collins, Keith Tippett and Gordon Haskell (Collins and Haskell would end up joining the band). The sound is essentially the same (within an acceptable margin of error) to the first album, with more contrast between serene and chaotic movements. Robert Fripp's compositions are quite seemingly absurd at times, changing from some jazz right into avant-garde, then to melodic, classically inspired motifs. His guitar doesn't really focus itself as the lead instrument, leaving that to Keith Tippett's insane piano work.
Lyrics — 9
Well, Peter Sinfield wrote the lyrics. Just as absurd as some of Fripp's guitar work. They appear to be initially written as poems, then being fitted to the music. From the metaphorical meandering of the title track, to the inspired lunacy of Cat Food. For all their seeming individuality, they fit quite well with the music, which uses varying degrees of textures and timbres to make for very good songwriting. Lake's vocals are as stunning as expected, and Gordon Haskell's vocals on Cadence & Cascade really bring out subtlety of the song itself.
Overall Impression — 9
Although still considered inferior to Court of the Crimson King, it is a stunning record nonetheless. It bears virtually no resemblance what'soever to later albums like Larks' Tongues in Aspic. The most impressive songs are the jazzy Picture of a City, the serene title track, and the epic, eccentric Devil's Triangle, an instrumental (to which Ian McDonald is co-credited to writing) that sounds what one would imagine Pink Floyd to sound like on crack. It gets a little repetitive at times, but otherwise a beautifully crafted album, worthy of prog rock fan's collection.