Release Date: Feb 5, 2013
Record label: Hundred Handed Inc
True to their promise, Coheed and Cambria deliver the second half of the Afterman double album just four months after its predecessor. The wild ambition displayed on Afterman: Ascension deals with the adventures of astronaut Sirius Amory, his ascent into the spaceways, and his scientific achievement in discovering the secrets behind the cosmic energy source The Keywork. It ended with what songwriter and singer Claudio Sanchez called "a sonic cliffhanger." The second half details the return of Amory to his home planet and what he encounters after he arrives.
You don’t forget your first introduction to Coheed and Cambria. Big of hair and high of voice, Claudio Sanchez is possibly the most distinctive frontman in the rock world, which – along with the extended comic-book concept surrounding their albums – has built them a frighteningly fanatical horde of followers. But for those who don’t care about Kilgannon and The Fence and The Keywork and just what Sirius Amory is up to now, the music – an infectious prog-hardcore-metal melange – was more than enough to be going on with.
After releasing the disappointingly stagnant final entry/first chapter (don’t ask) in their five-part “Amory Wars” saga, Year of the Black Rainbow, in 2009, many fans wondered what progressive rock/pop troupe Coheed and Cambria would do next. Considering that the group’s namesake comes from the story, it would seem out of place for them to release anything that wasn’t thematically connected to the same fictional universe. Last year, the group finally put rumors to rest when they announced their next project, The Afterman.
After struggling to make it through The Afterman: Ascension last October, I was dead-set on ducking another Coheed and Cambria album with that preconceived notion that it would suck. Then I decided that maybe it could pleasantly surprise me or that I'd have a rare negative review to throw in the mix (God spare Punk Goes Pop Vol. 5)! Well, it turned out to be the former and saying I was blindsided The Afterman: Descension is a grand understatement.
The mythos behind Coheed and Cambria’s concept album career is exhausting. Along with five albums, there are comics and graphic novels that broaden the story of The Amory Wars to a dizzying scope. Finally, it seemed, the initial story behind the characters of “Coheed” and “Cambria” was completed with 2010’s Year of the Black Rainbow. Then the band announced a double album, to be released in two parts, giving the back story behind everything they had previously released.
Review Summary: Well, it certainly is a Coheed & Cambria album!Coheed & Cambria are arguably one of the most integral bands to a lot of kids music taste these days, coming out as the mainstream torchbearers of both exciting pop-punk music and the new wave of "prog" bands that started popping up in the early 2000's. Even with some stumbles, they've managed to stay somewhat relevant for all these years by a combination of releasing albums controversial enough to draw positive praise and negative conversation, and perhaps by a little residue fame from "Welcome Home" via Rock Band and a few trailers and commercials. Where before they had strayed into more of an 80's sort of hard rock/metal shtick, with The Afterman records they certainly have come back into the realm of "progressive" music.
Alright, I’m going to completely skip the pleasantries and just get right at this. As a longtime fan of Coheed & Cambria, I really, really hated The Afterman: Ascension. In fact, if you ask me (which if you’re still reading this, you sort of are) the band has been in a tailspin decline since the muddled, over-thought Year Of The Black Rainbow. Yet here I find myself once again at Jack’s Music Shoppe in Redbank, NJ forking over my hard earned $11.99 for an album that I know will let me down.
Coheed and Cambria are nothing if not ambitious. The scale of their anthemic style defines them, and it can be summed up by the massive scope of their two-part concept album ‘Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV’. The two volumes that make up that career-defining epic are both packed to burst with big choruses, bigger riffs and a loose but grandiose narrative.