The first two things you may notice about the record if you’ve heard the band before are firstly that it’s a lot less heavy and a lot more experimental. Secondly, Olly’s clean vocals have got a lot better. At the start of the album, it seems like he’s improved a bit, but by the end you can hear a gigantic improvement.
A lot more time on the album is spent on clean vocals and soft melodies too. There is also a lot of places designed for crowds to sing a long to and a focusing on the electronic side that appeared a bit on Suicide Season and a lot on There Is A Hell.
This album opens right up into those atmospheric, electronic filled melodic moments. Its reminiscent of the style of tracks like ‘Don’t Go’ and ‘Blessed With A Curse,’ where the music has a lot of space, keys and absolutely all the death growls and blast beats from the early days have been removed. From then on there’s a lot of tracks like ‘Sleepwalking,’ ‘And The Snakes Start To Sing’ and ‘Seen It All Before’ that fit into that style, but taking it in a range of different tempos and directions. Most will bring a bit of heaviness in at times, but nothing as extreme as anything on the band’s first two albums.
‘The House Of Wolves’ brings back a bit of the British Hardcore scene influence, but that’s melded with the melodic, electronic style too. There’s a great breakdown, and some fast sections. ‘Shadow Mosses’ blends a little bit of the past back in to the sound too, but with a lot of their new direction. ‘Crooked Young’ is fairly heavy and bombastic, but has been hugely injected with the additional electronic elements. The album isn’t a repetition of their previous albums, but it definitely is a logical evolution.
The album is very dense sounding in terms of production style and how many little touches go on at once. Even when in essence all that’s happening is something as simple as a drumbeat continuing over feedback after the rest of the music dropped out, the sound is absolutely massive. So when all five musicians are going, and there’s keys, strings sections and guitar leads sneaking in and out, while the producer manipulates the sound like an instrument in itself at times, the record is very interesting.
Highlights include ‘Go To Hell For Heaven’s Sake’ which has a very catchy feel and some of the best drumming on the record, ‘Anti-vist’ which is one of the album’s heaviest moments and the immense album closer ‘Hospital For Souls’ which is incredibly cinematic and evocative.
At the end of the day it’s a difficult album to recommend since the band have so many detractors anyway and its quite a departure so even their own fans might dislike it. Not everyone will like this album. Some people will always hate the band because of their reputation and personalities. Some previous fans will hate the new direction that’s so far away from their early work. Some people will just not enjoy it.
I personally couldn’t be happier with the record however. I think it’s a masterpiece. The songs are enjoyable, the melodies are great and all the extra studio touches are interesting. It’s a very original sounding and emotionally powerful record with a lot to offer and one that really captures my imagination.
If you do chose to listen to it, go into it with an open mind and take it for what it is. It might not be to your tastes admittedly, but at least give it a fair chance because you may just discover your new favourite album.
**Oh, and if you found this review by search engine, when you discover it again on Amazon it is me posting it. It hasn’t been copied and pasted off here by a stranger, I post my reviews on Amazon as ‘Gentlegiantprog “Kingcrimsonprog.”’ So please don’t unhelpful-vote it because you thought it was stolen from me.**