The start of the album. The statement of the first words you hear: DEAD INSIDE is so damn good. Its like he is screaming out that we are all dead inside, it really grabs your attention. The beat kicks in and the dark bass drives the song. A strong start to the album and it makes a bold statement.
[Drill Sergeant] + Psycho
It might be me, but the strum in [DS] is repeated at the start of Psycho which really bugged me so I immediately stopped the album and changed it; minus 1 point right from the start. Rather repetitive, feels (in retrospect) like a filler song. They needed to have something for the story and just came up with this. Otherwise it rocks hard and sounds great live. I could do without the Sargent during the song though.
First poppy sounding song. The piano riff bears strong similarity and gives me feelings similar to Starlight. His voice here, as well as Dead Inside is on point. The bass drives and the melodic style is catchy, very reminiscent of Sing For Absolution. A solid song and the first one that seems very personal to the protagonist.
Drums kick it off with Matt squealing in with a tapping intro. Bass drops and the fast verse has you tapping your foot to the beat. Then the pre-chorus hits and you can not resist joining in with the "Drones!" and "Killed by!" chants and it soars into the chorus. The solo is a long winding wild ride a must not skip. Ending with the heavy outro with the "Here comes the drones" scream is just epic and perfect. Finally barely audible samples of "Follow the yellow brick road" give an eerie chill as the guitars fade out.
Lately have been starting the album here (I've listened to the front half so much it almost like its not there sometimes). The riff is massive and the vocal delivery again is on point. The chorus is a melodic bass with a soaring vocal crescendo declaring disassociation. The middle does drag a bit longer than I would like but it thematically fits and builds a suspense which is released at the end.
[JFK] + Defector
Speech is taken from President John F. Kennedy's address at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in NYC on April 27, 1961 to the American Newspaper Publishers Association. Talking about how the press can help make man "free and independent" it mentions nothing of Communism directly but instead of the very essence of what it is to lose freedom. The last line "Its dissenters are silenced, not praised." kick off in Defector which is a headbanging monster. Somewhat repetitive its solo/bridge makes up for it. Lyrics are a bit cheesy but I expect nothing spectacular from Matt. Queen like but tolerable. Probably one of my favorites along with The Handler.
The next poppy tune off the record and a heavy one as well. Solo is very reminiscent of Guiding Light (yes I went there), but not in a bad way. Personally would love to hear this live, it sounds like a monster. The bass and hooks are just so catchy. Pre-chorus/chorus is a bit weak however yet tolerable. Very sing-a-long like
I dig this song. When the guitar kicked in and Matt started singing (especially the first chorus) I started crying. No joke, this song is just such a good anthem sounding song. Reviews were right to say it was a cross of a Coca-Cola ad. The progression in the chorus feels very similar to the hymn "Hallelujah." Its just perfect another favorite track, its probably the softest point of the album other than the next two tracks.
The flow from Aftermath into this one is so great. The whistling starts and when the slide kick in taking its place it just seems to fit. The vocals come in telling a different story, yet it feels so familiar from what we heard so far. Upon being "given the codes" the heavy riff kicks in building as vocal over top drive the tension. It finally snaps when the countdown hits 1 and the command "Fire" is called. The riff explodes open and guitar melody drives the song to a climaxing scream as the piano fades in as the guitar fades away. The story has turned sad and the piano drives the song till its finally notes and slowed down.
Again transitioning in this album is rock solid. The line "Killed by drones" fades in from The Globalists violent yet mournful ending as what sounds like a church hymn. I take this as a perspective not from our protagonist but all those who suffered who now sing one last song as their world slow dies from the nuclear destruction that spreads across the land. The protagonist is probably among them (we may be seeing this from a 3rd person view of him) as he watches all the suffering he caused. Such a great and eerie way to end the album.
Overall score: 8.4/10
Overall top picks from this album have to be (in track order):
JFK + Defector
The Globalist + Drones
Lyrically Matt is as he normally is. The concept is pushed brutally through but I feel the execution across the board makes up for it. The song spreads of Mercy through Defector and Aftermath to Drones is just chilling. The Globalist and Drones should never but not played without each other.
This album cycle has been amazing so far, contesting even BH&R. However BH&R still has the edge for me, vocally and musically but that could change the more I listen. We will see at a later date.
To finish off here is my album order:
BH&R > OoS = Absolution = Drones > TR >> T2L