Sound — 9
Having reviewed Coheed And Cambria's previous release just a few short months ago, I feel like I still have a fairly fresh perspective of the two albums side by side. Both albums are solid releases and tell the story of Sirius Amory, but of the two, "Descension" has a little more variety in sound and has really captured my interest. While I have been a casual fan of Coheed And Cambria for quite a while, these past two albums have really captured my imagination. They manage to blend genres seamlessly in many of the songs on the album and manage to sound both like a modern band and like a classic prog band at the same time Claudio is a wizard when it comes to songwritng and composition. "The Afterman: Descension" has 9 tracks on the standard version of the album which I am reviewing, and has a runtime of just over 43 minutes. The iTunes Deluxe Edition has 12 tracks and clocks in at just under 60 minutes.
The songs on "Descension" are just a touch more out of familiar territory for Coheed And Cambria than their last album with some brief forays into horns, funk rhythms and some electronic music. The album is absolutely a 3 dimensional album and by that I mean it is a nice change from most popular music today and doesn't follow any kind of standard formula. One song in particular, "Number City", seems to remind me at different points throughout the song of Kyuss, The Police, Lady Gaga, and Modest Mouse. At times throughout the album the guitars are heavily compressed, but this is for sections of the song and is done for the effect at the time and not the standard throughout the album. Having recently begun picking up on similarities between a lot of recently released albums, this is absolutely a breath of fresh air. I'm not going to do a song by song analysis of the album, especially as this is a concept album that is more about the album than individual songs. I love the fact that the album all works together even though some of the songs sound so drastically different than the others.
Lyrics — 9
I recently read somewhere that Claudio's vocals are "polarizing" and I have to absolutely agree with that statement. Originally, I wasn't a big fan of Coheed And Cambria but over time I got over Claudio's voice and began actually enjoying it. Earlier today I listened to "Descension" with a friend who somehow had never heard Coheed And Cambria before and after the first song they were saying how much they hated Claudio's voice, but around track 5 or 6 they said his voice was growing on them. I think that is probably a pretty common reaction to his voice. With that being said, Claudio's vocal performance on the album is solid and he goes outside of his comfort zone a few times and manages to pull it off. As I said in my review of the previous album, Claudio's vocals at times have some processing on top of them but it always serves the song and not used in excess.
Here are some lyrics from the track "Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant": "Believer/ Your spotlight on the subject so incorrect/ and suggestion suggests that I'm someone you should not respect/ Oh you wear your facade so well/ covered up in a plastic shell/ you're a liar to everyone around you/ just don't forget/ face the honest truth/ you were never you/ now be defiant, the lion/ give them the fight that will open their eyes/ hangman hooded, softly swinging/ don't close the coffin yet/ I'm alive/ and it's homecoming/ and it's homecoming/ can you remember/ when there was no wrong in what I could do/ so young, biting off way more than I could chew/ and then one day I grew too old/ and my cares were now theirs to mold/ please accept this as my resignation/ it's time to go".
Overall Impression — 9
I'm straight up impressed. I have a friend who would qualify as a Coheed And Cambria "fanboy" probably, and they constantly hassle me because I don't appreciate Coheed And Cambria to the same extent as them but the time has finally come that I have to give up the ghost on that argument I am really loving this album. My favorite song on the album would have to be "Away We Go" or "Number City". There isn't a bad song on the album they are one of the few bands releasing albums these days that still feel and sound like they're producing fresh ideas instead of rehashing things that have already been done. My only regret is that I didn't get the deluxe edition that comes with the coffee table book that goes more into the storyline. I'm gonna have to go get it now. I used to think of Coheed And Cambria as almost a "gimmick" band because of the comics and such, but now I realize that was my cynicism thinking for me they are true musicians and artists. I'm ready to join their fan club.