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You'll know just how it ends...,
This review is from: Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (Audio CD)
In the grand scheme of things I'd rank this somewhere above Second Stage Turbine Blade and somewhere below In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3. The most obvious thing you notice on first listening to it is that stylistically it's quite different from the previous two - the tone is generally darker and heavier, and Claudio Sanchez seems to have deliberately modified his vocals quite a lot. I suppose they would have been criticised a lot more if all their albums had sounded the same, especially since they're all part of the same narrative, but it's a shame that the first impression is of a more traditional studio rock album with a less wildly original sound.
On the other hand, the actual songs have grown on me hugely over time, and my first impression has turned out to be completely wrong. They may sound different, but this is part of the natural evolution of the story, and they're still as complex, catchy and involving as ever. There's a definite structure going on here as well, culminating in track 14, which is not only a reprise of track 6 but briefly revisits songs from the previous two albums as well. The story remains pretty impenetrable, but it seems to concern an older version of the character Apollo from the previous album, with an interesting twist in the form of songs told from the perspective of 'the Writer' - the guy who actually appears to be creating the story and actively torturing the characters within (track 6 is one of my favourites).
In short this album is fantastic, though if you don't own the previous two I'd recommend buying those first, since this one represents a bit of a change of direction. I can't wait to find out where the next one goes, however..