OK, first of, tAoP are easily one of the best bands to come out of my fair country these past few years, and their last two albums have been in fairly constant rotation in my CD player since their respective releases.
However, this is the first of their albums that I don't feel ready to lavish praise upon, which is a shame, given all that this album seemed to promise. The digipack box it comes in is absolutely gorgeous, and the concept, about the titular character wandering through a warped urban environment under the guidance of the mysterious Pylon, seems like a logical development of their last album, as does the development of the spoken-word aspect of the band's sound.
However, whilst this looks great on paper, the execution is only a partial success. Whilst the spoken-word-orientated first disc begins well, the lack of dynamics doesn't take long to lessen the impact of what we're hearing. Furthermore, without the benefit of extra instrumentation, it can't help but draw attention to some truly cringe-worthy lines within the narrative.
Frustratingly, the second disc hints at what might potentially have been, with more instrumental parts that break up the spoken-word sections, but still not enough to stop them from too-often seeming overly long and rambling.
In the end, despite its potential, this album is perhaps best summed up as a noble failure. Whilst the Axis have a strong musical vision, and should be commended for allowing it to evolve, it requires a much more focused approach if it is to retain the impact of their earlier material.