Coheed & Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension

Label: Hundred Handed/Everything Evil
Release Date: 9th October 2012
Genre(s): Progressive Rock/Metal
Download These: Vic The Butcher
For Fans Of: Rush, At The Drive-In
Our Score
5.0
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User Score:
17 votes
8.8

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, 8.8 out of 10 based on 17 ratings

Posted by Elio Ravet | 03 Oct 2012 | Album Reviews, Reviews
  • There’s a man…

    I think you’ve somewhat misunderstood Coheed if you found their previous work humorous and now is the first time you’ve found any hints of what you deem to be “pretentious”. You realize one of their greatest albums was titled “Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV: Volume I: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness” which was the first part of last part of their story, which featured a writer named Claudio, writing about the characters of the previous albums, including Claudio Kilgannon, which means you have Claudio Sanchez writing an album in which Claudio the writer is slowly losing his mind as he struggles to write an ending for the story of the previous albums about Claudio Kilgannon. Within this album, is a 4 part suite of songs, one of which is a reprise of a previous song, songs which include callbacks to previous songs, and the biggest hit off that album is about Claudio the Writer fantasizing about murdering his girlfriend.

    “You’ll be begging them to lighten up by the end of the album.” The first album featured the parents Coheed and Cambria brutally murdering their children, one of whom had just been raped, and the saga ends (with your apparent favourite NWFT) with the complete destruction of the universe.

    And it’s only now you find elements that offend you because they’re pretentious? Only now do you find them a bit grim? They are pretentious yet also phoning it in?
    Look, criticize them, but be consistent about it. Only about half of this review is saying something that can be taken seriously.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elioheadbang Elio Ravet

    I appreciate your comment, really I do. However, I did say that the concept was good, but has overtaken the songwriting, Meaning that the SONGS were “phoned-in” not the premise. Also, I know Coheed are usually quite dark, however, they always had a bit of cheeky wink in there as well, personally the last two albums have lacked this. Furthermore, this album shows pretentious leanings because of a lack of anything BUT concept. I love concept albums, but only when the songs are good. No World For Tomorrow was a great concept album because the songs are brilliant (both stand alone and in sequence). I have heard good reviews for this record and fair enough – I’m just not feeling it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/elioheadbang Elio Ravet

    I appreciate your comment, really I do. However, I did say that the concept was good, but has overtaken the songwriting, Meaning that the SONGS were “phoned-in” not the premise. Also, I know Coheed are usually quite dark, however, they always had a bit of cheeky wink in there as well, personally the last two albums have lacked this. Furthermore, this album shows pretentious leanings because of a lack of anything BUT concept. I love concept albums, but only when the songs are good. No World For Tomorrow was a great concept album because the songs are brilliant (both stand alone and in sequence). I have heard good reviews for this record and fair enough – I’m just not feeling it!

  • alex

    Well you really liked NWFT… which most Coheed fans thought was a step in the wrong direction (don’t get me wrong I do love the title track, Gravemakers, ECIII&IV but they RUINED mother superior).. that said Ascension is fantastic. Every song is unique and kept me entertained at least. Vic & Evagria are INCREDIBLY good. The songs work incredibly well on their own. Goodnight Fair Lady is more Faint of Hearts 2 than the suffering though.

    Keep in mind I was very critical of YOBR and NWFT. I still like them, but they are far below the quality expected from Coheed. IMO the tiers for the albums are:

    IKS/GA1
    SSTB/Ascension
    NWFT
    YOBR

  • http://www.facebook.com/elioheadbang Elio Ravet

    Good choices dude! Maybe I just love Coheed for different reasons. NWFT was catchy and proggy (a perfect combo in my opinion). But hey, I’m a sucker for melody! Haha!

  • http://www.facebook.com/elioheadbang Elio Ravet

    I appreciate your comment, really I do. However, I did say that the concept was good, but has overtaken the songwriting, Meaning that the SONGS were “phoned-in” not the premise. Also, I know Coheed are usually quite dark, however, they always had a bit of cheeky wink in there as well, personally the last two albums have lacked this. Furthermore, this album shows pretentious leanings because of a lack of anything BUT concept. I love concept albums, but only when the songs are good. No World For Tomorrow was a great concept album because the songs are brilliant (both stand alone and in sequence). I have heard good reviews for this record and fair enough – I’m just not feeling it!

  • RHfilm

    The Writer is never named; his name isn’t Claudio.

  • RJ

    “This is without a doubt the most honest record I’ve ever written”- Claudio Sanchez

    I think you’ve reversed the direction band has taken over the years. Past Coheed records(SSTB, IKS) were far more conceptual and obscure than they were about songwriting. From Good Apollo to this one the songs have gotten more honest and to the point, so how is that pretentious? There is a difference between taking what you do seriously and taking yourself seriously, and Coheed and Cambria have made a career out of being wrongly accused of the latter, which is bullshit because those dudes are the most down to earth fucking rock stars on the planet.

    “Nowadays though, the concept appears to consume them, resulting in the actual song sounding like an afterthought.”

    FORGIVE COHEED AND CAMBRIA FOR BEING GENUINE ABOUT WHAT THEY DO

    Maybe it was you who was too consumed by the concept? Which is the whole point of a concept album? Which for some reason you didn’t like?

  • http://www.facebook.com/elioheadbang Elio Ravet

    Again, thanks for your comment. No, I like concept, its the songs I didn’t like. Look, there is no objectivity in music – we all have our own opinions. I’m not gonna pretend I like this album when I don’t. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Also, I do respect Coheed for doing what they do. However, that doesn’t mean that I have to love this album. Take Care!

  • bossnaught

    How can a concept band, let alone a concept album, be “pretentious”?? Definitely a lot of conflicting statements in this review… The vocal effects on the spoken word segments are meant to add atmosphere and make the album feel more cohesive. I assume the “All-Mother” is a computer and that is reflected with those vocal effects. Sorry, but if you’ve listened to Coheed in the past and felt a sense of “humor”, then I believe you’ve missed the point. If anything, I feel the lyrics have stepped into the background and the music and songwriting has taken center-stage on this album. Not to mention you didn’t say anything about the return of Josh Eppard, which, to me, makes this album ten times better than the past two albums that he was absent on. The groove is undeniably present.

  • There’s a man

    You seem like a reasonable dude so I guess it’s just personal taste, but I mean, sOmetimes when you’re listening to a concept album you just gotta embrace the format. I’m sure not every song on The Wall is a masterpiece when taken out of context.

    Apologies for being overly harsh before <3

  • RJ

    So you enjoyed the concept but you thought it took center stage over the songwriting. I get that, but it just doesn’t sound… true. What about the title track? Or Domino being subconsciously written about Mic Todd?

    If you didn’t like it that’s fine, not here to convince you otherwise. I just won’t accept anyone calling Coheed pretentious- because they aren’t.

  • 21:13

    I’m a HUGE Coheed fan and have been since SSTB but I have to say after GAI the music hasn’t been as good IMO. GAII still has a lot of great songs but I still longed for the greatness of IKS and GAI. I catch them every time they tour and the performances have gotten progressively better over the years so I’ll keep going to the live performances.

  • 21:13

    I’m a HUGE Coheed fan and have been since SSTB but I have to say after GAI the music hasn’t been as good IMO. GAII still has a lot of great songs but I still longed for the greatness of IKS and GAI. I catch them every time they tour and the performances have gotten progressively better over the years so I’ll keep going to the live performances.

  • 12:13

    I agree with the reviewer, it felt like they focused more on the concept and less on the song structures. The singing has definitely become more complex (same as the music) but complexity doesn’t always equal better. I don’t think this album is bad per se but not in the same vein as classic Coheed.

  • 12:13

    I agree with the reviewer, it felt like they focused more on the concept and less on the song structures. The singing has definitely become more complex (same as the music) but complexity doesn’t always equal better. I don’t think this album is bad per se but not in the same vein as classic Coheed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AdieStone Adie Stone

    I don’t agree with the reviewer but everyone saying that Coheed hasn’t had humour in their songs?
    Yeah they have.

    Maybe not blatant all out humour, but stuff like awkward humour amongst the characters and other senses of humour also. It has always come out in Claudio’s writing whenever he has meant it to.

    I’m more surprised that nobody has seemed to pick up on it other than the one person I disagree with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AdieStone Adie Stone

    But then the reviewer did say the voice was hilarious, which is a bit silly considering it’s meant to be a computer and sounds like……..a computer.

    Well, a computer from a sci fi film anyway.

  • Stoo

    “Phoned-in and sterile”? I respectfully disagree…

    Domino The Destitute, Mothers of Men and Vic The Butcher in my mind are set to become surefire hits live. Gritty and energetic, they pack plenty of punch with enough hooks to keep you coming back to them time and time again on album.

    Elsewhere on the album the excellent Goodnight, Fair Lady harks back to IKS The Velourium Camper I: Faint Of Heart.

    The Afterman is an achingly beautiful and honest story of loss that makes my hair stand on end every time I hear it.

    You say that the songwriting has suffered because of the focus on the story. Personally I tend to focus on the music before the lyrics and gradually get used to the story, and I don’t feel let down at all here. Musically all the proggy/rocky/punky vibes I’ve experienced in old Coheed are present in this album with a dash of intelligent electro-pop sounds on Evagria The Faithful and Subtraction.

    Indeed, the only complaints I have are that it is far too short at 40 minutes, and that Holly Wood The Cracked felt like a bit of a mis-step.

    A solid 8/10 from me and a marked improvement on YOTBR.

  • Stoo

    “Phoned-in and sterile”? I respectfully disagree…

    Domino The Destitute, Mothers of Men and Vic The Butcher in my mind are set to become surefire hits live. Gritty and energetic, they pack plenty of punch with enough hooks to keep you coming back to them time and time again on album.

    Elsewhere on the album the excellent Goodnight, Fair Lady harks back to IKS The Velourium Camper I: Faint Of Heart.

    The Afterman is an achingly beautiful and honest story of loss that makes my hair stand on end every time I hear it.

    You say that the songwriting has suffered because of the focus on the story. Personally I tend to focus on the music before the lyrics and gradually get used to the story, and I don’t feel let down at all here. Musically all the proggy/rocky/punky vibes I’ve experienced in old Coheed are present in this album with a dash of intelligent electro-pop sounds on Evagria The Faithful and Subtraction.

    Indeed, the only complaints I have are that it is far too short at 40 minutes, and that Holly Wood The Cracked felt like a bit of a mis-step.

    A solid 8/10 from me and a marked improvement on YOTBR.

  • Stoo

    Haha, just seen your comparison of Goodnight, Fair Lady to Faint Of Heart… I came to the same conclusion in my post just now, but didn’t read the comments first! Good call… cracking tune!

  • 21:13

    OK, after hearing the much better quality version I’ve changed my mind. The singing has definitely been improved upon even more (always thought he was a great singer already) for both singing and vocal composition. The songs are less in the way of pop hooks like a lot of their catchier tunes but like all good Coheed songs it pays to have patience when listening and let the music take you where it wants to.

    The songs I’m loving: Mothers of Men, Goodnight Fair Lady, Vic the Butcher, and Evagria the Faithful. Can’t wait to pick up the album when I see them in a few days!

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewMachiano Andrew Machiano

    For some reason I can’t help but think that Goodnight Fair Lady sounds way more like Radio Bye Bye. Doesn’t stop me from loving this album though. I respectfully disagree with the reviewer and give this album 8 -10.

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewMachiano Andrew Machiano

    I’m guessing you didn’t watch the trailer for the album. Because I guess making a trailer for an album is pretentious so you avoided it. Fair enough. But in that trailer you see what All Mother is and in that context it’s not hilarious, it makes sense. I respect your difference of opinion and this is really the only point that I can objectively disagree with you on.

  • gey4eppard

    This guy thinks NWFT is “bloody great” and that YOTBR is “undeniably coheed”. All credibility as a reviewer is lost.