COHEED & CAMBRIA – The Afterman: Ascension

Coheed & Cambria - The Aftermath: AscensionCoheed & Cambria was formed in 2001 by singer, guitarist and main song writer Claudio Sanchez, a New York native with a huge interest for science fiction. The band was formed when Sanchez broke out from his previous band Toxik Parents (probably after his dad’s herion addiction) which became Beautiful Loser. The songs were based on a sci-fi story that Sanchez had written and when they later changed the band’s name to Coheed & Cambria it was after the names of two of the story’s protagonists. The band released two albums on an independent label, The Second Stage Turbine Blade and In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth 3 and with the success of the latter, they attracted the attention of Columbia Records which signed them up for the release of their third album Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One – From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness. That album is their biggest seller to date with a million sold copies. Not bad for a non-commercial hard rock band with progressive roots and a style of their own. The original plan was to put C&C to rest when the final chapter had been recorded, but of course, with the band creating a bigger and bigger following, they couldn’t let that happen. The follow up, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two – No World For Tomorrow was also a big success and when the following tour ended, the band decided to make the follow up, The Year Of The Black Rainbow a part of the story that took place before the first chapter (album). A nice save that many movie directors have used when they found the need to follow up a success story that couldn’t be continued.

Which leads us to their new release. The whole Coheed & Cambria story is based on a series of comics Sanchez had written in the mid nineties called “The Armory Wars” for his then band Shabütie which later turned into C&C. They had prior to becoming C&C released the album Delerium Trigger in 2000, which could be looked upon as the embryo for the C&C story. Claudio Sanchez has explained that The Afterman: Ascension will go back to that story in some ways. They will also release The Afterman: Descension in 2013. As for the music, the C&C style is still there and it’s easy to hear that this is a C&C record. Quality wise, this is their strongest release since Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star Vol. 1. “Key Entity Extraction 1: Domino The Destitute” is heavy piece, progressive and melodic with some Iron Maiden-esque guitars, the title track is laid back and dark – great, “Mother Of Man” is a riffy number, still progressive and catchy and “Goodnight Fair Lady” sounds like a progressive Thin Lizzy. Brilliant stuff! “K.E.E. 2: Hollywood The Cracked” is one schizophrenic number. It’s sometimes prog, sometimes metal, sometimes it almost sounds like Mötley Crüe and sometimes it is almost AOR-ish. And I love it! “K.E.E. 3 – Vic The Butcher” is prog metal with a poppy melody, very catchy stuff. I love that one as well. The album ends with “Subtraction”, a mellow ballad and a great way to say goodbye for this time.

Even though I really like this band, the whole C&C story is somewhat confusing and when it comes to a theme band like this, I would love to get the whole story to read, because I have a feeling that anyone into sci-fi just might find it really interesting. If it goes hand in hand with the music, I’m sure it will be interesting. Write a book of the whole thing and then a movie, please. The music isn’t and has never been direct. For a first timer, this needs to be listened to a couple of times to get the idea. Not only lyrically, but more so musically. This isn’t hit music that will be all over the radio, but music that grows on you with every listen. Still, the music is catchy enough for anybody with a bit of patience. For those of you who are already fans, this album is a must, because it’s great and one of their best releases to date. Makes me look forward to its follow up.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

1. The Hollow
2. Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute
3. The Afterman
4. Mothers Of Men
5. Goodnight, Fair Lady
6. Key Entity Extraction II: Hollywood The Cracked
7. Key Entity Extraction III: Vic The Butcher
8. Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria The Faithful
9. Subtraction

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