This is my review of the first of the two “Aftermath” albums by Coheed and Cambria. Look for the second installement on Monday.
Background – Coheed and Cambria are one of my favorite bands. They are essentially my generation’s Rush, combining a mix of hard hitting, progressive metal songs with a great songwriting sensibility. However, their last album Year of the Black Rainbow, proved largely lackluster. That is not to say it didn’t have its moments, but as a whole failed to live up to expectations.
Now, Coheed has released their new album, The Aftermath: Ascension, which is the first of two albums, which follow the same storyline as their previous albums. As a band, every album is a concept album, all of which tie to the same concept as their previous albums, though I will admit to having no idea what that concept is. That all being said, I have high expectations going into this and I am really hoping for a bounce back album, so let’s go.
1) The Hollow – Ok, we start off with a music-box sounding intro, not dissimilar from many of the previous Coheed releases. These spoken voices are pretty creepy…and this has a pretty creepy vibe in general. Ok, let’s get to the album….
2) Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute – This intro is pretty bizarre…its one part Iron Maiden and one part Lollipop Guild. I dig this off-timed verse, cool stuff, but we’ll see if it pays off in the chorus. Well, that wasn’t bad and it was pretty catchy. The distortion they are using on this song is pretty weird and almost sounds like Jimi Hendrix fuzz. The last album almost felt too distorted and noisy, so I’m down with this less is more approach.
This bridge is really cool and really everything I’ve come to like about Coheed. And what’s that, yep the gang chant, a staple in the band’s catalogue, going back to their second album. And this is one of those choruses that are better every turn through the song. If this track is any indicator, this could be a real return to form. Great kick in the teeth to kick things off.
3) The Afterman – Do we have a Coheed and Cambria ballad here? I think so. This is sounding a lot like Joshua Tree era U2. This is the kind of song which could seem really good, depending on how the rest of the album is. On its own, this may not be the best, but if its put between two other good songs, then it could really tie things together. This one will all depend on where they do with the next one.
4) Mothers of Men – This one started off a little weak, with the rocking little riff, but it picks up for the chorus. They are using a little too much of the off-beat drumming for their verses so far, but the choruses are very strong and tie it all back together. I will say though, that this song isn’t really strong enough to bring the previous track up. This is a decent song, but not one I imagine myself coming back to a whole lot.
5) Goodnight, Fair Lady – This reminds me of a clean version of “The Suffering” from the band’s 4th album. The lyrics and delivery are a little cheesy and they are using too many devices which they have come to rely on far too foten. This sounds much more like classic Coheed than their previous effort, but the payoff isn’t nearly as good as the early albums.
6) Key Entity Extraction II: Holly Wood the Cracked – Right off the bat, this sounds like a strange Danzig track from the late 90s. I don’t really like the distorted vocals or the overly fuzzy guitar. Meh, this sounds more like a song you’d hear a local band play on a Friday night than anything else. I do not care for this song at all. This is getting annoying…this has to get better.
7) Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher – This one starts with some promise and is picking up speed; let’s see what they do here. Damn it…there are parts to this song which could be cool, like when they open up during the chorus, but then they throw all of these annoying vocal moves and samples in…why is there a need for so much extra noise during these songs. And the little syncopated “hang em up” line is not coming across well. This song had a lot of potential, but ultimately doesn’t deliver.
8) Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful – This intro is pretty creepy sounding and gets me on edge, almost like it could be the music to the ending of “Requiem for a Dream.” I like how it went from that weird intro/verse part to the open and resolved pre-chorus, nice transition….but no chorus yet….lets see where this goes. Well, I guess that pre-chorus part is actually the chorus…fair enough. I don’t know, this just goes on and on….this song needed a lot more.
9) Subtraction – A whole track with a weird heartbeat monitor effect on it. In the middle of a good album this would be a cool track, but at the end of a bad album, this just upsets me further. Damn it.
Final Thoughts – Other than the second track, this album kind of blows. I don’t know, I was really hoping for a great comeback album and instead I got this. I can honestly say that I will hopefully never listen to this album again. I’m bummed now and I’m going to go sit in the dark and think about what Coheed and Cambria did and didn’t do. For shame guys, you are better than this.