Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension (2012) Album Review

I’ve seen very mixed reviews about Coheed and Cambria as a whole. Some people despise their music (I think these people are very close minded) but they definitely have one of the strongest and most loving fan bases in the world. I listened to Welcome Home first (like many people) and slowly but surely listened to the rest of their songs. Now I own all their albums in CD format and the Neverender DVD. I also read the first comic and Year of the Black Rainbow novel and find the concept of the band interesting too, but I need to read into that more.

Anyway here is my track by track review of The Afterman: Ascension, the first part of the double album.

Song Analysis

The Hollow – An intro track on a Coheed album is a common thing, the track also features a similar motif shared with the other intros which if you are a fan you will recognise. There is also a brief section of dialogue between (I think) Sirius Amory and and ‘Mother’ saying that ‘she’ will be with Sirius throughout his whole journey.

Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute – The first full ‘song’ was released as a single of some sorts. I heard the radio edit first and then heard the full 8 minutes when the video was released.  I dislike the over-usage of the word ‘masterpiece’, but this track is epic. The accents on the guitar riffs and the way the drums seem to emulate the guitar riffs (and vice versa) is classic Coheed and gives so much more life to it. The smoothness of a standard rock track is eliminated and this method make it a much more turbulent yet enjoyable ride. The progression of the song is very good and all the different sections link together. This will be another ‘Welcome Home’ in that non-fans will listen and enjoy and it will help new fans like Coheed. The verses and chorus are so catchy, great use of melody.

The Afterman – Track 3 is much softer, to me it reminds me just a tiny bit of U2 but that may just be me, this is only because of; the easy ‘listeningness’ of the track, the clean guitars, delay and use of the snare drum. The vocals have been ran through a filter I think, (I’m not good with production lingo but you’ll understand if you listen) and the melodies again are classic Claudio and instantly catchy. The song gets slightly heavier towards the end but it is only very lightly, a quick track and very easy to listen to with some nice melodies.

Mother of Men – The opening of this track reminds me a tiny bit of Iron Maiden, which goes without saying as there are a lot of Maiden influences within Coheed (regardless of whether or not they actually were influenced by them). The track sheds this label as it progresses into a much more ‘Coheed’ familiar sound. The track seems to use all the things that make a Coheed song a Coheed song; Claudio’s vocal technique, the rhythms etc.

Goodnight, Fair Lady – This track sounds much more like their ‘pop-punk’ music. They aren’t a punk-pop band but they have similar sounds that pop-punk bands use. Coheed however use these in a way that isn’t crap. A very, very catchy song. Instrumentally it’s pretty interesting too. The tracks

Key Entity Extraction II: Holly Wood the Cracked – Track starts with a Root note (C# I think) and then the diminished 5th (G). Fans of Rush will recognise a similar sound from YYZ, among many other songs. This interval already creates a sense of unease and discomfort musically that is made all the disturbing when Claudio begins to sing in a distorted eerie voice. Just under half way through a chorus section (I think it’s a chorus) liberates you (briefly) from the unease but quickly heads back into the dark disturbing verses. The chanting ‘na na na na na naie’ is again weird. With a name like Holly Wood the Cracked it would be quite weird. It’s not bad weird, it’s quite… punky. I really like it. Catchy (again). Get used to that in Coheed.

Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher – Without a seconds breath this track starts. Sounds like there are recordings of cannons blended in with the drums making it a very powerful and epic intro to the song. The instruments culminate into a chorus which I can imagine the several thousand people chanting at the gigs. Claudio distorts his vocals naturally during some sections of the vocal melodies which I really like, I think screaming is fine but when it’s used lightly I think it’s used best, it’s like a pinch harmonic for the voice in my opinion.  The chords mixed with the second guitar riff layered over it in the middle section is really accessible and memorable, then it bursts into a killer brief guitar solo. The main section of the song ends with a minute and a half left but a ‘keyboard’ (may be another instrument) with ‘Mother’ speaking to Sirius.

Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful – Once again, like with the previous song, the tracks run into each other. This one starts again very interesting musically and Claudio’s signature vocal styling. Very soft but still relatively fast paced in consideration. A more ‘liberating’ song, unsure if that’ll make sense to anyone reading this but… if you understand then please tell other what I mean. A track that’s easy to listen to if you’re otherwise engaged but when paying 100% it really absorbs you with it’s multi-layered instrumentals and vocal sections.

Subtraction – Last track on the album has a really nice acoustic guitar part and the other instruments act as the foundations of the song; they are simple and sometimes go unnoticed yet really help support the track regardless of how inconspicuous they are. Multiple voices are nice as well. Really feels like a ‘goodbye’ and a perfect ending to the album.

Verdict

I only really became a proper Coheed and Cambria fan this year but I was still excited for this album and it’s counterpart (which will be released soon). I can say that I am impressed and my expectations were definitely achieved, maybe even surpassed. The album is only forty minutes long which for a Coheed release is short, however as it’s going to be a double album that’ll nearly be two hours worth of music… that’s fine by me. The album has ‘That classic Coheed and Cambria sound’ but the sound isn’t stuck to one genre at all, they are incredibly diverse if you actually listen to them properly and are very competent musicians. Instrumentals were brilliant and the vocals were as impressive as ever, Claudio really has a diverse singing technique regardless of what you think of his voice. He is definitely a talented and imaginative man. Can’t wait to see some of these songs live and am very much looking forward to The Afterman: Descension which should be released February 2013. Probably one of my favourite albums of the year. Well done! Now I’m going to put it on again probably.

Score = 10/10

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