Great thoughts, Jamie!
I've always been more album than single, and when a single drops well ahead of an album, I try not to listen to it too much, out of fear it will hit differently as part of the whole album later, so I'm more or less done listening to this song for now. I got a good 10 spins out of it.
The opening riff is, to me, pure Pantera. Simple guitar part with a slow, plodding drum and bass groove. It could be the follow-up to "Walk" fitting in on Far Beyond Driven, where Dime was experimenting with noises a bit more as part of his riffing.
I do feel like the verse/chorus/verse/chorus bit goes a bit past welcome, but then the song shifts to an entirely different direction, with a whole different vibe and feel, which keeps it fresh. It's like how they described The Stage (song, not album), where they had two separate songs and decided to mash them together into one bigger, better song. Bigger, I don't know, but the transition works.
I like Matt's voice here, but I also understand why some people are afraid his voice is shot and others just plain don't like it. The vocal orchestrations with parts overlaying each other (before the Kanye/Queen part, as Jamie refers to it) is pure late-period Savatage, whether they realize it or not.
Listen to "Chance" by them to know what I mean.
Syn's playing is technical and yet ethereal at the same time. The solo is stunning in so many ways. Few can weave in and out of key, dropping outside notes and then getting back on track with the confidence he can, and when he slows down at all, his phrasing is just so tasty sweet.
I love all the orchestration and strings, too. It's a great song that isn't perfect, and was clearly going to be divisive among the fanbase, which (as we all know by now) they fucking live for.
I remain VERY excited for the larger picture.