Review Summary: Excellent soundtrack, good album.
While writing notes for this album word ‘symphonic’ popped up often, and that’s what this album is, it’s a symphonic soundtrack to a an awesome and to my knowledge non-existent opera. Another word came up often and that’s ‘atypical’, Thirlwell is no stranger to orchestra music but he is stranger to heartfelt singing and there a lot of that here. He pulls it off, in his own way, he expresses emotional range on this album unlike on any other of his albums.
If you’re expecting in your face noisefest, which Thirlwell is known to deliver you’ll be pleased, and then disappointed, then pleased, then disappointed and disappointed, and then pleased again.
This album is as I mentioned essentially a soundtrack to an opera and as such has lot of songs which on their own are rather weak, but are needed to carry the story. Paper slipper is interesting curiosity. On the other hand ‘Here comes the rain’ and ‘Oilfields’ drag on to too long. If this music was a soundtrack to an existing opera I suppose it would be most visually intensive during those two songs because musically it’s weak there. ‘Concrete’ is your usual ‘I can make weird, creepy sounds’ filler that often appears on industrial (and Tool) albums. You get spooked by it the first time, but you skip it later. Again the song wouldn’t be bad if it was a part of a real opera, but on an album it gets distracting after first listen. However the biggest problem with these three songs is that they are one after the other and in the middle of the album, creating a black hole of enjoyment.
‘The Ballad Of Sisyphus T. Jones’ is redeeming. It’s still sounds like a part of an opera soundtrack, but it can carry itself. ‘Fortitudine Vincemus’ is a skippeble interlude. ‘You're Trying To Break Me’ is full on Thirlwell with a huge build up, powerful beats making you want to turn the volume up to 11 and wake up your neighbors. It sounds sick and evil yet tasty and engaging.
‘O putrid sun’ is a nice album closer and one of those atypical songs being it’s almost a ballad.
‘Stood Up’, the third song on the album is as close as to a single as this album gets, it’s the song you’ll probably be putting in various playlists. It’s not invasive, it’s different (compared to non Featus stuff) but inexplicably catchy.
Now I didn’t mention the first song Cosmetics, because it almost deserves a review of its own. It’s huge. It’s listenable Skinny Puppy, it’s chaotic while still maintaining sense of melody. Charging at you without revolting you.
Bottom line this is not a regular album it’s soundtrack, a good soundtrack, but a soundtrack nonetheless and without supporting visuals at times it fails to engage. So I give it a 3
To make it a 4 you have two choices.
Lay down on your bad turn on you imagination an listen to the entire album, envisioning an opera of your own. You’ll be in for a trip, this album is 4 in that case.
Second choice make a playlist take out: ‘Here comes the rain’, ‘Oilfields’, ‘Concrete’ and ‘Fortitudine Vincemus’