Sound — 9
The band's current lineup recorded together for the first time and it shows. It's a slickly produced album that smoothly transitions from soaring, grandiose choruses and pop chords to beautifully clear and deep acoustic sounds. Over the years, the band has tried to find plenty of different ways to use studio technology to make their music more interesting. This album forgoes a lot of those elements for a purer rock sound.
It's an incredibly gratifying experience to listen to a Coheed and Cambria album without the Amory Wars as an explicit backdrop. The evolution of the band's music continues. There are a lot of elements that longtime fans will recognize, both thematically and structurally. One thing the band has mastered at this point is using pop structure as a means to ensure that their most progressive sounding songs actually go somewhere.
Lyrics — 9
When I first heard the acoustic version of "Atlas" several months ago, I didn't know what to make of it. Honestly, I said, "Ah, here's a song about his kid. Great." As I drowned in a puddle of my own cynical sarcasm, I didn't realize how the song would eventually fit into the album or if it would even be included. The song is a pivotal track on the album. It features some of the classic prog-sounds from band's first albums, "The Second Stage Turbine Blade" and "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3," while leading into two tracks that capture what it feels like to be young better than any band has since The Academy Is... released one of the most underrated pop-punk concept album of all-time, "Fast Times at Barrington High." "Young Love," the lead-in track to the album's first single, "You've Got Spirit," places the song in a new context that took a song I struggled to feel a connection to went it was released prior to the album and helped it become one of the standout tracks on the album.
Overall Impression — 10
Coheed and Cambira's "The Color Before the Sun" is still a concept album. It's about a man urgently leaving behind the fictional characters he's hidden behind so that he can directly communicate a critical ideology to his infant son about what it means to grow up in this world.
I've read in twenty different places that the album is the band's first non-conceptual album. And while the album doesn't necessarily mention events from the band's science fiction-fantasy coming-of-age tale, The Amory Wars, it's very much a part of the band's own storied continuity.
The closest Coheed front-man Claudio Sanchez ever made it to communicating outside of the characters he'd created for his science-fiction opus was through yet another character, aptly named The Writer on the band's fourth studio album, "I'm Burning Star IV: Fear Through the Eyes of Madness." On the album and in the accompanying graphic novel, it was revealed that the events in the fictional universe of the Amory Wars was actually controlled by The Writer. It was the first moment where you could sense that, through the acknowledgement that the story was crafted by a writer, Claudio Sanchez was flirting with stepping out of the conceptual corner he'd pained himself into. The true history of the band has always sort of felt like Sanchez trying to reconcile his incredible ability to express deeply personal feelings with his struggle to do it in a truly personal way.
Now, finally, on the band's latest album, that concept of a front-man struggling with being in front, which has been a subtext of every album, has now reached its climax as Claudio Sanchez has, along with the band, crafted an incredibly moving and triumphant set of songs that detail the emergence of a man who has stepped out of his shell to become a fully realized artist for the sake of his infant son's future.
This is clearly the greatest album from start to finish that the band's ever produced. "Island" grabs the listener from the second they hit play with urgent and grand poppy-ness and "Eraser" sets the album's agenda when Sanchez sings, "Turn the clocks back to the way things were, I never wanted to be this me, show me back then the kid before the man, I don't think this me is who I am." The clock is turned back on the band and for the first time in its history, listeners are hearing Claudio Sanchez as he rediscovers himself as a more honest songwriter. Thematically related to the legacy he leaves behind for his son through this album, "The Color Before the Sun" is a true and complete portrait of an artist who has experience his own rebirth.