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This is my second favourite VS album, right after The House of Atreus Act I. Musically, it's slightly inferior, but it still beats the pants off most Euro Power Metal. (Most of Blind Guardian's discography withstanding.)
One of the reasons this is not just a great album, but a great concept album is because it doesn't fall to the cardinal sin of concept albums. That being having the story as the main focus, sometimes where it gets to the point where you can't listen to the best songs by themselves, because when you listen to them out of order, it takes them out of the proper context and comes off as extremely awkward, which is something Ayreon needs to take lessons in. Or if a concept album focuses to much on the story part of it, that they have to write the music to fit, which isn't always a good idea, also something Ayreon needs to learn. (Not only that, maybe he just needs to learn what a fucking awesome vocalist David Defeis is. HE could make Ayreon interesting) So that is why this is a great concept album. The story isn't too obtuse and complex that it's impossible to follow, and the music doesn't take a backseat to the story.
Now, about the music. The title track is full of ownage and has a total winner of a chorus. DIE! FALL ON YOUR SWORD! FALL ON YOUR KNEES! DIE LIKE YOUR SON! NAILED TO HIS TREE! Sonata Arctica, take notes because THAT is how you write a chorus. Speaking of Sonata Arctica, there's nothing whiny to make this weak and powerless, like SA do. Actually, you know what? EVERY song on here has a winner of a chorus, with 'Dominion Day' being the lone exception, which I'll get to later. DUST FROM THE BURNING! *Riff riff riff riff riff* That is how you write power metal, goddammit.
The tour de force of this album comes in the last track. The climax of the album. From the solo that DEMANDS your absolute, undivided attention, and COMMANDS you to drop whatever you might be doing at the time, stand up and air guitar along to it. To the chorus. WE CAME! WE SAW! WE CONQUERED YOU ALL! Shit, I came the first time I heard that. Everything about this song is fucking awesome. Perfect in every way.
Some people might complain about the lack of any ballads, here, that said, I have a huge bias against ballads, unless they're written by Blind Guardian or W.A.S.P., so the absence is good imo. As for the bad. Well, there's really not much, but a couple notable things such as the instrumental section in 'A Whisper of Death.' The intro to 'Mind, Body, Spirit' is also kinda cheesy, and somewhat lol-worthy. Or the aforementioned chorus of 'Dominion Day.' I dunno, something about it just doesn't work.
What's the final verdict on this? WIN. Get it. If you have to order it, so be it, just get it.