Right, so this album is worse than A Farewell to Kings. This one opens with Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres. It’s over eighteen minutes long. It’s based on Apollonian vs. Dionysian literary criticism. It has a Table of Contents. The song has a Table of Contents. It’s . . . I mean, it’s part two of the track that ended the last album. So, in essence, Cygnus X-1 is twenty-nine minutes long. So, okay, long songs are okay. I’m a Dylan fan. But when your song is almost thirty minutes long, it needs to be a darn good song and this one has a couple of nice bits. I mean it’s thirty minutes long, how could it not have a couple of nice bits? But just no. Just no to this.
And then the album ends with a nine minute instrumental piece called La Villa Strangiata (An Exercise in Self-Indulgence). Hey, you said it, buddy. Anyway, it’s ten minutes long almost and it has a Table of Contents also. A Table of Contents TWELVE ITEMS LONG. It is sort of the definitive “let’s just smash all these little throwaway bits together and call it a suite or something” piece, if you know what I mean. I mean, this is beyond pretentious. And I don’t mind pretensions to greatness; a lot of times, you never have greatness unless you have pretensions to get there. But the pretensions are annoying when you have nothing to back them up and this album has nothing to back them up.
And while I’m ranting here, was there a reason you put a naked man on the cover of the album? Yes, yes, I know, Dionysian literary criticism. I have a BA too, you pretentious git. But Dionysius could have ******* clothes on, couldn’t he? I mean, really? You’re gonna make me carry around a CD sleeve that has a naked man on it? I should really take another half-star off just for that awful sleeve design; pretentious, heavy-handed and, oh, yes, contains one too many naked men for my tastes.
Anyway, there’s also a couple of shorter songs. The Trees is a heavy-handed sermon about conflict and the other one is so forgettable I remember nothing about it. The Trees isn’t bad. It’s not good either, but it’s not bad. But those two marathon tracks are just cringe-inducing. This one’s a big step down from A Farewell to Kings. Taken as a whole, this is just an awful album. This album is STRONGLY WARNED AGAINST. ½ star.
tl;dr – pretentious “song-suites” are interminable exercises in wankery without a bit of soul. Rest of album is forgettable. ½ star.