Release Date: Oct 9, 2012
Record label: Universal Distribution
Coheed are back! Huzzah! Is their new one any good though...? The first part of a quick-fire double album for prog-pop overlords Coheed & Cambria focuses on a character called Sirius Amory, described as ‘the most celebrated astronomer’ in Coheed’s alternate universe of Heaven’s Fence. It’s another weighty concept for a band whose overall art has always been about way more than just their music. In lesser hands, though, this baggage could be at the detriment of the tunes but not for Coheed.
Although 2009’s Year of the Black Rainbow contained a few standout tracks (namely, “Pearl of the Stars”), many fans felt that Coheed and Cambria didn’t live up to their potential with it. As the long-awaited first chapter in their five-part sci-fi concept (which could be likened to an updated, futuristic take on Romeo & Juliet), the record lacked several key traits of their previous work, including extremely catchy hooks, bittersweet emotional depth, and necessary thematic continuity. Naturally, some devotees lowered their expectations for whatever would come next, which, as we now know, is a two-part concept album with a storyline related to the Amory Wars (but not centered on the aforementioned characters).
Review Summary: The Afterman: Ascension marks indisputable growth for a band that up until this point seemed as if it had nowhere else to go. For Coheed and Cambria disciples, the past five years or so have elicited a lukewarm, almost befuddled response. Their two albums, No World for Tomorrow and Year of the Black Rainbow, dabbled in retro and electronic territories, respectively, and garnered little more than an indifferent shrug from those who worshipped their opening trifecta like it was the holy grail of progressive rock.
It appears that when Coheed and Cambria's Amory Wars saga was completed back in 2007, it didn't quite end. Or did it? First there was The Year of the Black Rainbow in 2010, an album reported to be a "prequel" to the Amory Wars recordings. Now, songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Claudio Sanchez offers The Afterman: Ascension, the first part of a double album whose main character is someone named Sirius Amory.
In five albums, Coheed and Cambria have unveiled The Amory Wars, a sci-fi/prog-rock epic following a hero’s harrowing intergalactic struggle to unearth the truth surrounding his parents’ death and overthrow an evil tyrant. Until now, the story has featured dense lyrics crafted by a nerdy F. Scott Fitzgerald, characters with the black-and-white morals and grace of a geek-friendly Harper Lee, and grand, intricate story arcs that would make regular George R.
My first encounter with Coheed and Cambria was during my preteen years in junior high school. I was perusing the music section of a local department store in New Jersey, when suddenly I came across the holy grail of all albums for a geeky, suburban, white kid like myself. The record was none other than Coheed and Cambria’s In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth 3.
Haunting and eerie, that’s how Coheed And Cambria begin the listener’s journey into ‘The Afterman: Ascension’. Part one of their double concept album, this sixth record sees their powerhouse rock mix with a sci-fi tinged tale of discovery and loss.Even as their powerful sound takes precedence, eerie undertones constantly keep you in touch with the space-fuelled undertones of the plot. A guitar trill here, an electronic nuance there, it’s these minute dimensions that really construct the concept musically.