First off, this review isn't for the album's music, the music is actually fantastic. One of the best cirque shows with some of the best music, and songs like "Creature of Light", "Hope" and "All Come Together" are absolutely fantastic.
A week before the CD's release, Cirque's website allowed people to stream the album online, and the sound quality there was just perfect. It didn't even sound mastered, it sounded very warm and inviting, with prominent bass and great highs and excellent lows. So imagine my excitement when I got the CD. I was under the impression that this would be a step up from the excessive brick walling and compression that Iris suffered.
How wrong I was.
Immediately the album started off on the wrong foot with one of the most artificial masterings I've ever heard. The opening guitar notes and synths sounded very thin and distorted. Haven't heard mastering this atrocious since Metallica's Death Magnetic! It sounded as if it was going to distort at any second. Much to my horror when I ripped all the tracks to my computer and put them in the audio program I use, I was shocked to find that the album had an average decibel gain of 4. That's right, frigging 4!!!!!
I get that some of you are going to comment saying "just turn it down". Wrong. We shouldn't have to turn the music down just to enjoy it, particularly Cirque's. Good music should be turned up loud manually! We shouldn't have to put an album in and be deafened at regular volume level because of excessive brickwalling. This is textbook disrespect to Bob and Bill's wonderful and beautiful progressive metal score that they composed for a magic and ethereal show. The fact that an acoustic intro to a song (Creature of Light) is louder than an Iron Maiden song is just baffling.
Unless Cirque can really step up their game for the next soundtrack release, I won't be buying the CD. Cirque needs to rerelease this with audio quality that isn't deafening. It would be nice to actually hear a lovely tune like O Ma Ley, but I can't because it's just a big mess of white noise.