Keep It Simple Stupid
Stepping away from a winning formula eight albums in is never an easy thing for a band to do. Coheed and Cambria, however, is the latest band to sniff an opportunity to mix things up. Their newest offering, ‘The Color Before the Sun’, is the first in the career timeline not to fall into the concept of the ‘Amory Wars’, the epic Sci-Fi tale, which served as a backdrop for their last seven albums.
This lack of conceptual direction gives the boys a new freedom, as heard on the slick and fresh sounding pop-rock opener ‘Island.’ Equally, ‘Eraser’ further builds upon the steady, simple foundation set by the predecessor, providing listeners with some subtle, but trademark Coheed odd time rhythms, while maintaining an infectious drive. ‘Colors’ rounds out the album's introduction in a much steadier fashion, with frontman Claudio Sanchez crooning away over the steady atmospheric texture created by himself and fellow guitarist Travis Stever. While ‘Colors’ does not blow the listener away, it rounds out a hat-trick of infectious hooks for all three openers, revealing a pleasing consistency with what the band is aiming to produce.
One can never know what to expect as far as sounds go on a Coheed and Cambria record. While the opening maintains a simple, unaltered soundscape, ‘Here to Mars’ sees the band open up the doors sonically, with the chorus particularly transporting the listener beyond earth’s atmosphere. Drummer Josh Eppard provides an enormous wall of percussive sound to accompany the soaring vocals of Sanchez over the rest of the band, resulting in a cut, which carries far more musical weight behind it than the record's opening. In contrast, 'Ghost' is a simple acoustic number, with beautiful harmonies and distant voices gently crooning away in the darkness. The dynamic shift is perfectly placed within the album, providing an easy transition into the second half of the record.
‘Atlas’, like preceding moments, again begins in a subtle fashion before launching into an energetic groove, with Eppard constantly shifting between syncopated off beats and straight crotchets on the snares, providing both direction and a sense of adventure. Dynamically, the song dips well before gradually building again into an explosion of triumphant metal, with Sanchez joyfully reminding his listeners that, ‘This is your life now’. Clocking in at six-minutes, ‘Atlas’ maintains simplicity while avoiding repetition. It is easy to follow, does not stall, nor does it feel like it over stays its welcome. An album highlight.
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Coheed and Cambria boldly toe the line between progressive rock and pop, combining the lyrical themes and melodies of the latter with the instrumentation of the former. This is exemplified in ‘Young Love’, with the icy tones of Sanchez providing catchy melodies over a dynamically diverse instrumental composition. ‘You Got Spirit, Kid’ further exemplifies this idea, providing one of the catchiest, boppiest choruses the band has ever done to date.
Coheed and Cambria don’t provide too many shocks on ‘The Color Before the Sun’. What they do bring is a reminder that simple is best. From the easy, straight ahead pop of ‘Island’, right through to the gentle closing of ‘Peace to the Mountain’, the album is a suitable, easy insight into Coheed and Cambria’s take on pop metal.
The more hardcore fans of Coheed are bound to angrily jump on their keyboards due the lack of a metal 'twinge' on parts of the album. But musically speaking, this is a mature record, and a band looking to the future to ensure as much longevity as possible.
4. Here To Mars
7. Young Love
8. You Got Spirit, Kid
9. The Audience
10. Peace To The Mountain