Album Review: Coheed and Cambria - 'The Afterman: Ascension'

3 October 2012 | 11:19 am | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Good story, great music, short but effective.

The Armory Wars, the blanket title of the Coheed and Cambria storyline, has really become its own beast. A comic series, graphic novels, and now a feature film in the works, the sci-fi world that Claudio Sanchez has created is extending far past the band’s music.

The Afterman: Ascension’ is the first part of a side story in The Armory Wars universe, which will be followed next year with its second half, ‘The Afterman: Descension.’ The basis of this story focuses around a character named Sirius Amory, an astronomer and scientist who embarks on a quest to discover a powerful energy source but begins to lose various important elements in his life whilst searching.

Of all the stories present throughout the Coheed back catalogue, this one seems like one of the more obvious ones, mainly due to the album’s opening track, 'The Hollow', which is a narrative set to a piano instrumental.

The record also contains a four part story arc known as Key Entity Extraction Parts I – IV, which introduces new characters to the plot and also has the band sounding most like “classic Coheed” musically. These tracks are long, driven by big guitar riffs with plenty of squeals and enough structure changes to lose the background listener.

It is however the moments where the band attempt something a little different that become the record’s highlights, in particular the album’s title track. 'The Afterman' is a softer song driven by a rolling snare and delayed guitar riff with Sanchez singing in a heavily effected and breathy voice with all elements producing the finest melodies of the record. The return of original drummer Josh Eppard seems to have left the band’s sound relatively unaffected, however there is a certain element of comfort musically that seem quite prevalent throughout the album, possibly due to his reappearance.

Other notable tracks are the bright glam rock sounds of 'Goodnight Fair Lady', which will make In Keeping Secrets’ fans very happy, and the soft electronic album closer, 'Subtraction', which is similar to the solo recordings of Sanchez in The Prize Fighter Inferno.

It’s clear that Coheed and Cambria are embracing the sudden popularity of The Armory Wars by puting a stronger focus on the storyline of this album, which in turn makes it a little easier to understand. Let’s be honest, no one really understood the concept in earlier records until it was spelled out for them. This one however will have you hanging out for the second instalment to hear what happens to The Afterman. An added bonus is the fact that musically Coheed are well versed in exactly what they are capable of doing and that comfort is clear on this record, producing some of their most refined musical moments.

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 Faithfull
9. Subtraction