Coheed and Cambria is a rock band from Nyack, New York whose style is a new take on progressive rock, incorporating punk, post-hardcore, and melodic metal elements. The Afterman: Ascension is their sixth studio album. I should also preface this by saying that Coheed and Cambria is my favorite band of all time, and has been for about 9 years at this point. My obsession is rivaled by no-one I’ve had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face, so if your looking for an unbiased review, look elsewhere. This is a long-time fan boy review based on extensive knowledge and nostalgia. Good Apollo, where should I begin?
As always, the album starts with a theatrical opening song. For Ascension the song is Hollow, a somewhat haunting layered keyboard piece that is completely instrumental save a few lines of dialogue between the protagonist, Sirius Amory, and the Allmother. In case you were wondering, this song confirms what you should already know. This, like every Coheed album before it, is a concept album. Strap in!
Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute starts as a slow, powerful guitar with a hint of ambiance before being kicked into overdrive and becoming a driving prog metal masterpiece. It clocks in at almost 8 minutes long, and never seems stretched or unnecessarily long. In fact, when this was the lone song released, I would listen to it several times in a row. I don’t know if it’s the vocals which are fun to sing along with, the great progressive guitar work, or the fact that I’ve been listening to this song for a while now, but this is definitely one of the stand out songs. In my mind this exemplifies what made me fall in love with Coheed and Cambria with their first album, with the heaviness that become more prominent in later albums. Imagine a marriage between “Time Consumer” and “Welcome Home” and I think you might find a creature similar to Domino the Destitute.
Now lets switch gears a little and remember what else Coheed and Cambria do a great job with. The title track The Afterman is a bit slower with a repetitive riff and is more vocal centered. At the 2 min. mark things get spiced up when the second guitar and bass show up to the party, but the song keeps it’s spacey atmosphere. I’m seeing a lot of people saying this is already their favorite song on the album and, while it is a great track, it is mostly important for adding dynamics to the heavier, quicker, better songs before and after it.
Which brings us to Mothers Of Men. I cannot put my finger on what it is exactly, but original drummer Josh Eppard (who has been absent from the lineup for the last two releases) brings some magic quality to not only the drums, but to the songs in which he appears. This song is a perfect example. Chris Pennie is a great drummer who could play this song no problem, but it would lack a quality I look for in Coheed songs. This is still a fresh song, but I can listen and hear that band that brought me those great early tracks. One of my favorites for sure from the album.
Goodnight, Fair Lady sounds to me, both musically and vocally, like it belongs on 2005 “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness”. The lyrics feel very close to the writer and are delivered with believable emotion. This is the song that makes me wait by my mailbox for the book so I can see more of what goes on with the story for this song. The song ends with the voice announcing the second entity has been identified.
Key Entity Extraction II: Holly Wood The Cracked is a jump to left field from what I’ve come to expect. The guitars are very low and very distorted. Claudio’s vocals are layered and a bit crazy sounding. Clarity in tone and a return to form comes with the chorus, before returning to the fuzzy heaviness. The lyrics have a very different feeling as well, as if someone besides Claudio wrote them. As a whole this song is very different from their normal sound. I’d even compare parts of the song to industrial metal. I’m still not sure how to feel about this one.
Key Entity Extraction III: Vic The Butcher I really dig the vocals in this track. There are amazing guitars and some pretty cool sound effects, but it’s Claudio’s delivery that really makes this song so nice. And there’s even a chant that makes me want to see this song live so I can scream “Hang you secrets! Hang ‘em up! Hang ‘em up now!” After the high energy romp, there is another interlude on keys that bleeds into the last entity for this album
Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria The Faithful has a climax feel to it. The repeated lines “Goodbye forever, my darling, whether I was everything you thought I’d be or not” and “This hurt won’t… won’t go away” is a bit unnerving and adds to the raw emotional context of the song, and of the album as a whole.
Subtraction is a retro sounding track with synths, drum machine, and beeps from The Postal Service brand of electronic music. This feels like the song that would play during the credits of the movie that is this album.
This album is, in my opinion, significantly better than the slight misstep that was their previous release, 2010’s “Year of the Black Rainbow”, which came off as vastly over-produced and sometimes a cluttered mess of sound juxtaposed by occasional simplicity.
If you could only hear a few tracks from this outing, I would recommend Domino The Destitute, Mothers Of Men, and Goodnight, Fair Lady. Is this a good album? Should you go out and buy it? I’ll let you decide. But for the record I spent $64.99 on the pre-order for the Limited Edition Boxed Set and another $15 for the vinyl version, so my opinion should be clear.
See you next week,
AG Zero: Logging out