"The Suffering" revisits the handclap refrains and cheerleader choruses that made "A Favor House Atlantic" a big pop single the last time out. "Welcome Home" updates album rock for the 21st century, replacing Led Zeppelin's blues base with uniquely elaborate emo. Singer-guitarist Claudio Sanchez writes each song as part of an ongoing metafictional space opera. In this installment, the characters meet their author, who, heartbroken from a nasty breakup, decides to destroy the universe he's created, reaching that conclusion after a series of duets, dialogues, a 6/8 blues jam, and an instrumental acoustic stomp. Prog rock is alive and well, but if 20-minute solos make a comeback, let's hope Sanchez puts down his doubleneck Gibson and revisits arena rock with an Illudium Pew 36 Explosive Space Modulator.
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