Picture yourself in your bed on a dark stormy night. The rain is pouring down, and the thunder is booming. You are trying to get to sleep and feel yourself finally lulling off. Suddenly, a very loud thunder clap snaps you out of your drowsiness. You then try to fall back asleep but feel a little unnerved. You feel something coming on. Then a tornado lifts your house up in the air, similarly to the Wizard of Oz, and all you can hear is the roaring of the tornado and the screams of others.
That's pretty much what I find listening to track three, "The Manifold Curiosity", like. If you aren't already scared off by the pretentiousness of how I've started this, then I'm doing well. Anyways, yes that song is magical. But not only is the song, this whole album is magical. I can't pick a favourite because every song is 100% perfect for what it's going for. Each song has more care and thought put into the composition than on any album I've heard. Every song carries the feeling that if it went on any longer, it'd decline in quality, but they remain at the perfect length where the quality peaks. This is probably the closest any album could get to being absolutely perfect.
Another thing that makes this album so satisfying is the feel of it. It feels very dark, but has undertones of bright majesticness and sheer beauty everywhere. The quiet sections range from atmospheric to dazzlingly gorgeous melodies and features impeccable usage of a multitude of instruments.
If you don't want just quietness, don't worry. There is plenty of loudness here, present on all tracks except "Wayfarer", which gets louder but now so much dark and heavy as the other tracks. Every song seems to know exactly when to engage the heavy setting and pound the listener with growls and screams that almost sound as if poor Toby is being mercilessly tortured in the middle of the song. The vocals in the loud parts sort of blend into the music, but it works with the tortured screams and adds what I find is a very frightening effect.
I am sorry for sinking to track-by-track review now, but each song is beautiful and brilliant in it's own way. "Marathon" builds on atmosphere and dynamics and ends with a beautiful spoken word poem from Toby Driver. "A Pitcher of Summer" is the most accessible track, yet still carries the avant-garde feel with it in the way it's composed and how free the quiet parts seem. I already said my piece on "The Manifold Curiosity", but it features one of the best uses of dissonant chaos I've ever heard. "Wayfarer" is just beautiful and majestic. Hard to go beyond that description. "The Antique" features a very slow and almost creepy build as the intro where it then turns into heavy chaos, and ends with beautiful piano and distorted vocals.
I could really go on and on about this album but I'd never even cover half of the stuff there is to say about it. It's brilliant and perfect in so many ways that it'd take an eternity to capture it all into words. It may take you several months to digest fully, as it did for me, but if you let it do so I hope you will see it as much a masterpiece as I do. My favourite album of all time, and no amount of stars would capture my love for it, so I'll just give it the maximum 5.