Back on track
It's been ten years since Coheed and Cambria's epic debut album and in essence the ideas here are still familiar to fans, The Armory Wars story continues, although on this record Sanchez has said that lyrically it's far more personal a record and more a case of fitting the story around the songs afterward than sitting the songs to a pre written story arc. Musically it also follows a familiar path and even though their prog-rock sound is more toned down these days in terms of raw power, the riffs and proper rock solos are still there and so are the pop choruses that make the tunes so addictive and easy to sing along to.
Opener Key Entity Extraction / Domino The Destitute (not counting The Hollow, the twinkly intro which is a feature of their albums) is an absolute corker in every respect; it's a huge soaring seven minute epic of superb classic rock style guitars and Claudio's powerful vocals complete with anthemic sing along moments, just brilliant. Follow up tune The Afterman also really feels like a classic Coheed track - a catchy ballad style tune but with downbeat lyrics. This tune is obviously one of the more personal ones and so rings true in a real emotional sense whilst also becoming part of the story of the album. Actually although the opening track may be a real high point the record doesn't go downhill from there, there aren't any particularly low points and it holds your interest throughout.
With The Afterman it really feels like the band's passion is back, with far more memorable pop tunes and technical moments to be had than on recent records (perhaps the reappearance of original drummer Josh Eppard has had an impact). Their sound had felt toned down on the last album, the disappointing Year Of The Black Rainbow, so it may be something of a relief to hear that this album goes someway to restoring the feel of the earlier days whilst managing to maintain the band's gradually evolving sound.