Coheed & Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension
Coheed & Cambria are a band that are known best for two main elements: One, their elaborate concept (each album running parallel with singer/guitarist Claudio Sanchez’s comic book series The Amory Wars), And two, their ability to make prog seem appealing to a more ‘mainstream’ demographic through their apparent mastery of melodic songwriting. From 2002 onwards, the looney New Yorkers had produced four albums, each progressively (no pun intended) getting better, until they made the bloody great No World For Tomorrow in 2007. After that album was released, the band found themselves at a crossroads. With the original concept arc now at a close both fans and band members alike began to question the band’s mortality. Three years past, and the four-piece reconvened to release a ‘prequel’ album, The Year Of The Black Rainbow. While undeniably Coheed, the record did tend to take itself too seriously, very few songs were memorable and it all felt a bit flat. The Afterman: Ascension, while regaining more of their ‘classic’ sound, still falls into familiar trappings and leaves much to be desired.
Let’s start with the positives: You can definitely tell that, as usual, Sanchez has put a lot of work into the lyrical aspect of the album. Songs like ‘Domino The Destitute’ and ‘Hollywood The Cracked’ paint a gritty picture of greed and betrayal, among others. However, lyrics aren’t everything. What Coheed always seemed to be good at in the past was balancing the skills of storytelling and songwriting. Nowadays though, the concept appears to consume them, resulting in the actual song sounding like an afterthought. There are glimpses of what made the band great (the dual guitar licks in ‘Goodnight Fair Lady’ for example) but it all sounds too phoned-in and sterile to be enjoyed fully.
Another thing that was refreshing about the Coheed of old was their sense of humour… Lets just say the word ‘pretentious’ doesn’t even begin to describe The Afterman: Ascension. While there are some unintentionally funny moments on here (the vocal effects during the spoken word segments are truly hilarious), you’ll be begging for them to lighten up by the end of the album.
Now, a lot of work has been put into this record, and it shows, but Coheed & Cambria have set a standard for themselves, and The Afterman: Ascension sadly falls way below that.Coheed & Cambria - The Afterman: Ascension,