Sound — 9
Coheed And Cambria have always been an odd band to me from the beginning they have modeled their lyrics exclusively after a story written by vocalist/guitarist, Claudio Sanchez, and every album they release is a concept album. Their albums are often accompanied by a comic book covering the same material as the songs. Their sound has also been very original since they began, initially with a strong post-hardcore influence, and they've also incorporated elements of classic rock, progressive rock, pop punk, punk rock and heavy metal. Progressive rock has always been the unifying current through all their albums with their other influences seeming to wax and wane. The release of "The Afterman: Ascension" is the first album with Zach Cooper on bass, and the first time since 2005 that they have recorded with drummer Josh Eppard. Mic Todd, the previous bass player, was arrested for armed robbery and left the band shortly after this in 2011. The previous drummer, Chris Pennie, left the band in 2011 due to "creative differences". Since the lineup change the band has managed to gel well with the new and returning member.
"The Afterman: Ascension" consists of 9 tracks that clock in at just under 40 minutes. The composition seems much more reminiscent of old school 70's progressive rock than any of their previous work, while still incorporating all of their various influences. While I have always enjoyed Coheed And Cambria, I have always been a fan of older progressive rock and this album scratches both itches. While I think there will probably be pretty mixed opinions on this album, it may be my favorite release by Coheed And Cambria to date. There is much less distorted guitar than in some of their previous releases, and a lot of keyboards not nearly as heavy as most of their last release, "The Black Rainbow". Drummer, Josh Eppard, has made a strong return on this album and displays that he is a good match for the band. Zach Cooper also performs admirably and makes a good addition to the band. The album is mixed well, and the songs are well arranged, and the order they appear on the album has a good flow.
Lyrics — 9
To be perfectly honest, ClaUdio Sanchez's voice has always been my least favorite part of Coheed And Cambria's music, but either his voice is growing on me or he is improving as a vocalist. The vocal performance on the album is great and I don't have anything to complain about. I've listened to the album trying to figure out what they did as far as processing the vocals because it does seem like there is some processing I think that it is primarily some slight compression, but used in good taste. The lyrics focus on the character, Sirius Amory, and the spaceship called "All Mother".
Some of the lyrics from the album, from the track, "The Afterman", follows: "She gave her heart/ to a falling star/ the news filtered through of this tragedy/ all the walls went up/ around the world she climbs/ as the tears from her eyes fall/ no one understands and no one will/ all she has lost/ if he's not here then where/ if he's not here then where/ if he's not here then where/ if he's not here then where/ what she found in there/ you're the cold blue glare/ the words distressed in unfamiliar/ where the feelings sear/ an emptiness had hung/ and in her chest she clenched/ reality settled as the memories raced/ well, on a screen he lived". Pretty well written, and telling the story of the Amory Wars.
Overall Impression — 9
I have to say that I really enjoyed this album more than I expected, and I'm afraid that means that some Coheed And Cambria fans may not be as happy with the album. My personal taste in music has Coheed And Cambria in the fringes of what I like, but on this release I really enjoyed the album from beginning to end. My favorite songs on the album would have to be "Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria The Faithful", "Subtraction", and "Mothers Of Men". I didn't really dislike any songs on the album, and I especially enjoyed the limited dialogue that goes on during the album. Especially at the beginning there is a dialogue between Sirius Amory and All Mother that is very "Donnie Darko"-esque on the track "The Hollow" that I really enjoyed. There is a lot of work done on the album to create the right atmosphere for each song to sit in and it was done well. The idea of a band creating music to tell a single underlining story is really interesting, and as each album releases they seem to get better at telling their story.