The Afterman: Descension review by Coheed and Cambria

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  • Released: Feb 5, 2012
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (134 votes)
Coheed and Cambria: The Afterman: Descension
4

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.

64 comments sorted by best / new / date

    the chalky one
    I had never heard them till today, and I think I'll be listening to them a lot more now.
    gorkyporky
    Gravity's Union is definately one of the best songs they ever recorded. I love this album, probably the best since Good apollo 1.
    DavesCrusade
    Gravity's Union is actually my least favorite on the album. I like both Ascension and Descension a lot, and I think Descension is overall a much better album, but Gravity's Union and Pretelethal I just can't bring myself to listen to completely. Maybe in time. Also somewhat disappointed that Iron Fist has all that electronic junk over the acoustic. They were playing it live on their Second Stage 10 year anniversary tour and it was perfect without all the sounds. It fits more with the album this way, but I would've preferred it as just an acoustic track. Just my opinion though.
    fingersofflame
    Ascension and Descension were kind of a shock/adjustment for me on first listen. I actually didn't like Iron Fist at all the first time through, it was all just too different, but it's one of my favorites right now. I'm not sure how I feel about Gravity's Union...I feel like it's almost too messy or busy or...something in the beginning half. But then somewhere in the middle, for the rest of the song, I really dig it. I was kind of happy to see more electronic elements that weren't just blipping transitional sounds, like on Good Apollo, in the the album probably because I also really enjoyed the Prize Fighter Inferno stuff and hoped to see some of those elements eventually become more prominent in Coheed's sound. But I get what you mean, I had a similar reaction back when NWFT came out. I had seen that YouTube video of Claudio and Travis playing Mother Superior at NAMM and felt like the built up version was almost too built up, even though it fit with the rest of the album I really liked that first, stripped down version I'd heard.
    fifopher
    Don't forget about the first part, The Afterman: Ascension!! Great double-album!
    Rands2113
    Pretelethal is probably the best album opener I've ever listened to. The album itself just plays through so smoothly. This Ascension/Descension album is by the far the most diverse they've ever been as a band.
    masterchief44
    Really?? I thought "Pretelethal" was the only track I don't really care for on the album - especially as an opener compared to the awesome "The Hollow" from Ascension.
    Rands2113
    It is different from the orchestral they usually place to start the album but considering it's a "double album", this is more of a continuation. The sonic cliffhanger from Ascension flows so smoothly into the opening of Pretelethal to make for an awesome feel to the second half.
    third(-)eye
    These past two albums have been their best yet, IMO.
    vppark2
    Def a masterpiece. I love how diff the 2 albums are and how much their elements have changed yet still sticking to their prog-rock roots.
    SoulShredder
    Away we go definitely my favorite track so far, I can just see that song been played over a huge stadium.
    MrDo0m
    Loving this album... Ascension is awesome too. And hey, I still loved Year of the Black Rainbow.
    zakku27
    I'm really surprised no one has commented on Zack Cooper's background vocals. They create a really great harmony with Claudio's in Descension, especially in Iron Fist.
    Guns N' Chains
    I'm sure this album is a masterpiece just like all their others. Haven't had the chance to hear Descension yet, but seeing them live tonight.
    LightxGrenade
    It's streaming on Spotify and from my first listen of the album the one thing that really stood out to me was Claudio's vocals are my favorite ever in a Co&Ca album. Just to be clear, it's not that I ever hated his voice I just that I think that it sounds really good on this album.
    c.monstar
    Glad you mentioned this was on spotify. I'm gonna listen before I buy. The last two disappointed me. Man, their first 4 albums are so awesome! I don't blame them for changing, a real musician's gotta experiment. Hoping they kill it this time!
    LightxGrenade
    You know one thing that I always found weird (in a good way) with them is that despite the fact that they have a very distinctive sound, their albums have very different mixes and accent different aspects of the band. My favorite albums by them are IKSOSE: 3 and No World For Tomorrow but plenty of people will choose different albums as their favorites because of whichever style they showcased at the time. I think it's really a testament to just how good they are, they could ask 7 fans what their favorite album is and receive 7 different answers
    [x]Huffy[x]
    As a whole the Afterman is mindblowing. This more than makes up for Year Of The Black Rainbow. I'm loving Sentry The Defiant, classic Coheed.
    death4077
    I'm so tired of spam on this site I've almost decided to quit using it. Isn't this why we have mods?
    RP2U
    Love every album from the band. Gravitys Union, Sentry the Defiant and The Hard Sell are my current favorites.
    EvilorDivine68
    The musicality and the tightly knit connection this band has within their music is amazing to me. The production is great, and there's a sense of maturity to it just like the other albums, yet it has this youthful presence to it as well. It's just an overall great album, and already could stand as one of the best albums of 2013. My favorite songs are "Away We Go," "Gravity's Union," and "The Hard Sell."
    jessejames36
    I saw them in Chicago over the weekend and then in Des Moines last night. I've seen them 9 times, and they continue to get better live. It was a bummer to see them play the same setlist, but it was still awesome.
    Countsluggo
    Zacks vocals were stellar live as well! With Josh and Travis too, some killer harmonies.
    Bob94571
    ♫I ACCEPT MY MISTAKE, BUT YOU WILL NEVER KNOW!♫ Love this goddamn line and the way claudio sings it!
    mixxtap
    amazing album one of the best bands out there today seein them live on sunday at first ave in mn
    maximumrocker
    Decided to give Coheed another chance, since I havnt really enjoy anything after IV: Volume I. I have to say... I am impressed. I'll have to check out the other half this album
    ThatZachGuy
    Just reviewed this for the school paper. Published a review for Ascension too. Really, not that it's bad (I mean, it's still Coheed), but I just feel like Descension wasn't as good as it should have been. After Ascension, it just feels kind of weak to me. Still a good album, just a touch disappointing.
    ollie25
    Haha yeah, I know, kinda weird but that's what it's called in the liner notes of the record. Claudio confirmed that in an interview somewhere as well. It's just not commonly referred to as that I guess
    AnEvilWalrus
    I never thought I would say this... but Coheed have actually managed to top Good Apollo 1 with these Afterman albums (I'm counting them as one). Absolutely phenomenal.
    Tesseramey
    I absolutely love Coheed, but this album was a big disappointment for me. A lot of the songs just feel like nothing special, which is something I never thought I would say about Coheed. I will be giving this album more chances though. I'm glad it's getting a good reception.
    Countsluggo
    One of my favorite bands. I agree with this review completely, not just cause I'm a fanboy, but because its actually that good. Seein them again tonight, can't wait!!
    Spadge71
    Better than Ascension, but together as intended an amazing double album. Establishing them very firmly as one of the very finest modern prog-rock bands.
    Gakusey
    I just remembered about this band a few days before this album was released. Might as well give it a go. Enjoyed their music, even though I don't usually like "epic" music (whatever the genre).
    Dxbanderson
    Love this beyond measure, even more than Ascension. The variety, the composition, the lyrics, the production, everything is just perfect. Going to listen to it back to back with Ascension this weekend, may not survive the experience. One of my favourite albums of all time, if not THE favourite.
    Skyvalve2012
    Ordered the album a couple days ago. Love this band and can't wait to see them live in March.
    lankeysob
    Do any of the songs sound like Domino the Destitute? It's probably the only newer song of theirs I've really cared for.
    Spadge71
    Must admit the entire double album is a grower. Nowhere near as immediate as say Good Apollo 4. But persist with it, because it's a great piece of work.
    westofalice
    you say the music "doesn't follow any kind of standard formula" which isnt true for maybe 4 songs on decension and maybe 2 on acension, everything else is in pop structure and thats why i think coheed is on a downward spiral musically. they could do so much better like with Good Apollo 1. that album to me is THE coheed album and acension and decension just further drain me when i argue with myself if i love them like them or not
    REAPER_DE_ALMAS
    Good Apollo 1? I know of "Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness" is that what you mean? Because Claudio never made 1-3. Not yet anyways.
    ollie25
    Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 2: No World For Tomorrow. That's the full title of NWFT.
    REAPER_DE_ALMAS
    I don't know where "Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 2: No World For Tomorrow" came in but I think I see your point.
    ollie25
    Haha yeah, I know, kinda weird but Claudio confirmed that as the full title somewhere at some point in time. It's just not very commonly referred to as that I guess
    Swizzlestix09
    "confirmed that as the full title somewhere at some point in time" Yeah... try the album title, that's where it's confirmed
    ollie25
    Haha well yeah, but it only has that printed as the title in the liner notes and on one side of the vinyl so it's...hard to find? Haha I don't know