Sound — 7
Coheed And Cambria have never been short on musicianship. There is something to be said in going too far, however. Musically, this CD is very accomplished. It has interesting and complex rhythm and lead work, and manages to do a lot with the varying musical textures. Even so, it still lacks the punch you would expect from Claudio & company by now. A few songs, like Ten Speed (Of God's Blood And Burial) and Welcome Home get the ball rolling before Claudio even opens his mouth, but unlike their previous albums, I wouldn't listen to these songs if they were merely instrumentals. Not because it's bad, but because it's not immediate or exciting.
Lyrics — 8
Claudio's lyrics have always been inscrutable. At least on this album they're the least unscrutable they've ever been. You can manage to lift some meaning from his crazy sci-fi love story lyrics this time around, and the songs seem more cohesive, like he's whittled each song down to one particular subject, finally. These are definitely an improvement from back in the days of the Second Stage Turbine Blade, where it wasn't unheard of to hear lines like "Librarian find me the pole the one that kicks your head in". There's also a lot less sentence fragments, and I have to admit, that has really bothered me in the past, ending thoughts with words like "of" and "or" just seemed like sloppy writing to me. Even his vocals seem a little less high-pitched and histrionic. My only major complaint is that it feels like he took a dare from one of his friends to see how many different ways he could sing the word "you" on the CD. Apparently, this word has approximately three syllables.
Overall Impression — 7
I am a huge fan of Coheed And Cambria. I love seeing them successful and getting paid. That being said, this is their weakest album to date. That doesn't mean it's not good, it just means that they've gone a step down, and that comes from the lack of anthems. Even when their songs have gotten to their most convoluted in the past, there was still a part that you could just belt out alongside Claudio and feel good. There's just not enough moments like that on this cd. The best track on this album, Apollo I: The Writing Writer, is one of the few that puts the rock ahead of the pomp and circumstance. Just as a side note, it also has to have one of the worst song titles in history. Other standout tracks include the Kashmir-inspired Welcome Home, with it's dueling banjoes style solo, and Ten Speed (Of God's Blood And Burial). The driving bassline and punchy riff on the verse along with the call-and-answer style vocals give it a certain urgency. If you are a fan of Coheed And Cambria, buy this CD, listen to it once, get out all your frustration that it isn't everything you hoped it would be, and then enjoy it for what it is. For people who aren't fans yet, buy In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 first.