Sound — 10
The sound of FTM is, as mentioned numerous times by others, quite different than that of De-Loused In The Comatorium. I think the best description I've seen thus far is "organic." The various layers of sound occuring at any moment throughout this album just work together to create the impression that these sounds were basically made to be fit together. While many have criticized the use of ambience by MV, it would be a mistake to consider this wasted space. As with the lyrics, it is the use of the indirect, and contrasts, that merely establish further the energy during the main song structures. This is music as art, folks; if you are unable to deal with that, then odds are HMV, Wal-mart, or whatever narrow big box store is in your neighbourhood, has something more up your alley.
Lyrics — 10
As a super geek, I gotta say I absolutely love Bixler's lyrics. How many times they've had me popping open the dictionary, I cannot say, I've simply lost count. Though other reviews argue otherwise, the lyrics are not "pointless." Abstract, yes, but they very much convey the emotion, the mystery that they are intended to. I'm also a fan of the use of Spanish, though living in Canada (we don't have Spanish classes here, it's Francais or the highway) I know literally no Spanish. That being said, I am less pleased that it means that there are substantial chunks of the album I can't sing, thus annoying all around me, with my headphones on.
Overall Impression — 10
I was tempted to give this album a 4. The reason is because DITC held my attention musically for almost 10 months, non-stop. Thus my expectations were huge. For the most part, FTM has met, and on some levels exceded, these expectations. My only complaint is the general lack of variety on the album. While each song has variety, all tangents in each song are nonetheless related, and with only five (six if you count the title track) songs, compared to DITC, this equals a lack of variety. However, in relation to anything else that record companies excrete, this album is simply above and beyond (oh Mars Volta, why must you be affiliated with Universal?) Yes, this is the best major label album of the year. Yes, if you have an open mind and the time to be introduced to it in a single sitting, you won't be disappointed. And, yes, the wait for the next Mars Volta album begins.