Aside from the clean vocals, this album is great! A step-up in all directions from the band except for the vocals lol
The band drops a lot of their "metal clichés," here from an instrumental point of view (though lyrically they still could mature a bit more). What we have is a style that suits the band's more more chaotic side better than what their "radio metal" past ever could. They're definitely going all out and doing what they want and the result is a very fun album that just simply works. Especially the G.O.D suite.
I need to listen further for a more comprehensive evaluation. These are my first thoughts on a first listen.
Edit: The mellower clean singing is actually fairly good, upon further listens. What I don't personally like is when Shadows tries for the more "metal" vocal style. It's too melodic and he really can't keep a note. It worked when he was younger, but it doesn't sound good anymore. I'll call this "melodic shouting." Overall, aside from this "melodic shouting" this is a great album. I considered lowering the score half a point for the this, but honestly I feel like it deserves this score. I hope they actually try a symphonic prog album, next - the symphonic prog song "Cosmic" is easily the album's highlight!
This was an interesting listening experience. I like it! AS have now fully embraced the Avant-Garde. The album doesn't fully convince me, at least not after the first listen. The vocals feel strangely out of place (like they're not really part of the mix), and the clean vocals are a bit thin overall, compared to other avant-garde releases.
Overall it seems a little haphazard, although the "GOD suite" that closes the album makes up for the preceding songs somewhat - I really liked it.