Portland’s the Decemberists are back with a vengeance, this time releasing a rock opera, The Hazards of Love. The 17 tracks narrate the trials and tribulations of Margaret and her beloved William. As Margaret takes a journey through an enchanted forest to find William, she runs into a treacherous Rake and a jealous, vindictive Queen who “speaks” with heavy metal riffs.

What’s evident in this epic CD is that the Decemberists refuse to stay in their comfort zone. Hazards is one of the most ambitious albums of our time, marrying their trademark folk sound with heavy anthem-like rock. Guests on the album include My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Robyn Hitchcock and Lavender Diamond’s Becky Stark.

Grade: A

The Hazards of Love is currently available.