Sound — 9
I've been a big fan of Coheed since they started, and I've always loved everything they've done. "The Afterman" is the group's first double album, "Descension" being the second half. Like the first half ("Ascension"), this album showcases the group's classic rock influences, particularly on the excellent "The Hard Sell" which has a funky, near-Zeppelin vibe, and "Away We Go" which, to my ear, channeled Thin Lizzy right down to the vocal style. This is a side of the band I've always wanted to see more of. But the classic rock sound isn't all there is here, as "Number City", a catchy upbeat tune, comes right after "Hard Sell" to give us a taste of Coheed's apparent love of the 80's. The overall sound production is almost flawless, and the group's usual complex, thoughtful instrumentation is in full force here.
Lyrics — 9
For any who don't know this band, all their albums are concept albums set in vocalist Claudio Sanchez's fictional "Amory Wars" universe, and this album keeps that tradition. I'm not too familiar with the story, but I know that this album focuses on the namesake of the Amory Wars, Sirius Amory. For the most part, however, the songs can be separated from that concept as deep down they are really about Claudio's personal experiences and feelings. The lyrics are sincere and poetic, conveying well emotions such as anger, regret, joy and resolve, as heard in "Sentry The Defiant"'s emotional chorus: "Face the honest truth: you were never you, and I'll be defiant, the lion. Give them a fight that will open their eyes. Hangman hooded, softly swinging, don't close the coffin yet; I'm alive!" Claudio's vocals have always been a subject of controversy, deemed by some to be too high-pitched and annoying. While that is a matter of opinion, you can't deny the emotion and dynamic range of his vocals; one minute he'll be screaming with unadulterated rage, the next he'll be softly and sadly crying out to any soul willing to listen. I personally enjoy his tone as well for it's uniqueness, and his pitch is always spot-on. Anyone willing to accept a high voice and some interesting pronunciation will find an excellent vocalist in Claudio.
Overall Impression — 9
This may make me sound like a fanboy, but both parts one and two of "The Afterman" are, in my opinion, the best albums Coheed And Cambria have ever made, though "Descension" is the better of the two. You can hear the evolution of the band and all they've learned from past albums, as they've effectively taken the best parts of every previous album and meshed them together. Some standout tracks for me were "Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant", "The Hard Sell", "Number City", "Away We Go", and "2's My Favorite 1", though every track is great, classic Coheed. Any fans of the band, prog rock, or good music in general would do well to pick up this album.