Released: Oct 16, 2015
Genre: Alternative Rock, Progressive Rock, Pop Rock
Number Of Tracks: 10
After 20 years as a band, Claudio and company have released every single album as a concept album revolving around the "Amory Wars" storyline, but "The Color Before the Sun" is a departure and does not follow any concept.
The Color Before The SunFeatured review by: UG Team, on october 19, 2015 4 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: Claudio Sanchez formed Coheed and Cambria in 1995, and is the only member who has stayed with the band without a break since the inception. The only founding member remaining besides Claudio is Travis Stever, who plays guitar and backing vocals since his return to the band in 1999 after a 3 year absence. Another interesting lineup change they had was when bass player, Michael Todd, was arrested for armed robbery before a concert - he evidently robbed a pharmacy at gunpoint. He was replaced by Zach Cooper who has been doing a phenomenal job so far - and who personally earned some of my respect for using a Peavey T-40 (at least in the video for "You Got Spirit, Kid"). "The Color Before the Sun" is the band's eighth studio album and contains ten tracks and has a runtime of forty-seven minutes. Three singles have been released from the album - "You Got Spirit, Kid" was released as the lead single in July, "Here to Mars" was released in September, and "Eraser" was released earlier this month in October. The song "Atlas" hasn't officially been released as a single, but has been available as a solo acoustic rendition of the song by Claudio on their YouTube channel for about a year.
"Island" is a strong opener for the album, really a very energetic track and the lyrics are immediately personal and a strong departure from the Amory War storyline. "Island" doesn't necessarily grip me, but I don't hit the skip button, either. "Eraser" has a cool garage rock opening but changes gears a few times. While "Eraser" definitely is more of a pop rock song, there are still some really good lead guitar work and some prog elements. "Colors" opens with a kick drum beating out a steady 4/4 and some muted arpeggios on guitar. The bassline comes in about the same time as the vocals creating a nice effect, then the rest of the instrumentation comes in like a wave. "Here to Mars," I have read, is a fairly straightforward love song to Claudio's wife, Chondra Echert. Musically, "Here to Mars" reminds me more of some of the band's earlier material. "Ghost" is a softer song, played acoustically, and has lyrics dealing with feelings of alienation. "Atlas" is a pretty strong track, and really one of the heavier songs from the album. The song is very probably written to Claudio's child. "Young Love" has a strong melancholy vibe to it, and largely the track is carried by a repeating hook in the guitar riff. "The Audience" has a distorted fuzzy riff going on, with lyrics that are abstract but mainly centered around creating certain imagery with the listener. "Peace to the Mountain" centers on an acoustic guitar part and Claudio's vocals, though it is joined by drums, percussion, bass and electric guitar. The track gets pretty epic by the end with horns and strings and gang vocals backing up Claudio on the repeated chorus lyrics. // 7
Lyrics: Claudio definitely has a distinctive voice that immediately screams Coheed and Cambria, which I personally enjoy a vocalist who sounds like an individual instead of sounding like everyone else. Claudio stays pretty diverse within his range, going from high falsetto to more moderate vocals, to even a little bit of grainy screaming. The backing vocals on the album are supplied by Travis Stever and the rest of the band, occasionally even Claudio's wife provided a few backing vocals, mostly in the way of "ooh's" and "aah's." As a sample of the lyrics, and some of my favorite if I take a minute to channel my high school personality, here are some from "You Got Spirit, Kid": "You keeping on screaming from the top of your lungs/ Mr. Who Gives A Shit just shut up/ Oh, the podium is all yours go right ahead/ The plastic king of castle polyethylene/ Go on time to be a good little pig/ You're worth it/ oh, you're so... so/ Cause when the rug gets pulled out from underneath/ Just embrace the fall/ Oh, you got spirit kid/ You're number one/ Go on living that farce/ Nobody gives a fuck who you are." I have mixed feelings because I like the Amory War storyline, but I've also enjoyed the more personal lyrics. I hope they go back to the Amory storyline, at least on SOME of their future albums. // 7
Overall Impression: There are absolutely going to be some mixed opinions on this album. In a lot of ways, I initially felt let down when listening to "The Color Before the Sun," but after each subsequent listen it grew on me a little bit more. Claudio has stated in interviews that he started writing the song thinking in the direction of a solo album (after having some writer's block on the Amory War storyline) but after completing some songs he realized there wasn't a reason to limit Coheed and Cambria by not releasing this album by the band. I like the energy the band has on the album, where it often sounds like they're more relaxed and having fun. It isn't necessarily going to get on my top 3 list of favorite Coheed and Cambria albums, but it is a solid work. My favorite tracks would probably be "Atlas," "You Got Spirit, Kid," and "The Audience." I really enjoyed the way that the album was mixed - it did everything right, in that regard. // 8
The Color Before The Sun
travislausch, on october 18, 2015 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Coheed and Cambria has always been a rather special band to me. Discovered around the same time my nascent music tastes also discovered bands like Dream Theater and The Mars Volta, Coheed and Cambria always made sure my taste in music had one foot firmly planted in punk and pop music while still appreciating the merits of prog-rock. Their first two albums, "Second Stage Turbine Blade" and "In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3" were the albums that got me into power pop, all while containing brilliantly executed story lines in a sort of science-fiction/fantasy universe called "The Amory Wars." On their third album, the catchily-titled "Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: Through the Eyes of Madness," the band explored more overtly prog-rock territory. Since that album, the band's pop-rock sound has been taking a backseat, favouring atmospheres and riffs over concise song structures. However, earlier this year, guitarist and vocalist Claudio Sanchez announced the new album and posted a clip of a song named "Atlas," after his newborn son, performed on a solo acoustic guitar, as well as the fact that this album would not be a part of the "Amory Wars" saga. Instead, the lyrics would be more personal and it wouldn't be a concept album.
Of course, this had many of us skeptical about how the band could write outside of their multi-album story line, but right from the opening notes of "Island," the band sounds invigorated and fresh again, almost as if the break from the story was what Coheed and Cambria needed. Opening with a salvo of lead guitar, anthemic power chords and an almost Sigur Ros-esque angelic choir, the band's unique brand of pop-rock mixed with prog takes off with the band firing on all cylinders. The epic power-pop chorus has the same urgency that has been missing from the band since "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3." "Eraser" opens with a much more sinister-sounding, but subdued guitar riff and Claudio's nearly-whispered vocals, with some very contemporary sounding "oohs." The guitar solo adds to the song, as well. "Colors" is a very pretty-sounding track with a very prominent "quiet verse/loud chorus" dynamic. "Here to Mars" almost sounds like something 30 Seconds To Mars would make on a good day, with vaguely space-themed lyrics, gang-chanted vocals, atmospheric guitar leads along with some epic power chords, and Claudio shouting the bridge. "Ghost" has a more ambient sound with folky acoustic guitars and Claudio working his lower vocal range. It's a very short track that I feel could have been expanded more. "Atlas" has been reworked into a full band piece on this track and definitely carries the "prog" factor that the rest of the album doesn't really let out too often. With the vocal melodies and the start-stop arrangements in the verses, it definitely has one of the most epic sounds on the record. "Young Love" is another track with a strong guitar riff, and at times almost has a post-"Final Cut"-era Pink Floyd vibe to it. "You Got Spirit, Kid" was the first single and is strongly representative of the sound of the album, with its main guitar riff that easily recalls bands like The Cult and U2, and Coheed's trademark epic power-pop choruses. The music video is a bit of a riot as well, featuring the band getting back at some high-school bullies, with a bit of a hilarious twist at the end. At the beginning of "The Audience," I wasn't sure if I was still listening to the same band until Claudio started singing because of the almost doomy guitar tones. It was a bit jarring after the pop-rock of the single, but the tune itself is another epic "proggy" number. It's definitely one of the darkest numbers on the record, and one of the few that sounds like it'd fit on one of their more recent albums. "Peace to the Mountain" closes out the record with a folky stomp, before turning into an almost Beatles-esque brass section which closes out the song.
The production of the record is pretty average for the genre, sometimes it feels a bit brickwalled and overly layered, and a few of the songs would have benefitted from reducing some of the "colouring" guitar tracks and such, but it doesn't do much to detract from the album for me. The instrumental performances are pretty decent, as well. Travis Stever's and Claudio Sanchez's guitar playing is pretty straightforward on this record compared to some of their more recent output, largely eschewing solos and single-note riffs for more punk/power-pop power chords and reverb-drenched high melodies. Zach Cooper's bass plays mostly just a supporting role, locked in tightly with the guitars and bass drum, not really getting too many moments to shine on its own. Josh Eppard's drumming is also very tight and focused, and rarely gets overly flashy. It's clear this band was not intent on shredding their way through this record, mostly keeping a very subdued sound. // 7
Lyrics: I tend not to pay too much attention to lyrics in my music, and even though the band's biggest claim to fame might be their "Amory Wars" story line, the band decided to leave it behind on this record to focus on more personal topics. Certainly, the band had some interesting things to deal with during the writing and recording process, like Claudio Sanchez's home being turned into a marijuana grow-op by a family who rented their country home while Claudio and his wife were renting a New York apartment (probably an inspiration for the lines "When the fear's too big, our apartment's too small/Where's my life-saver when I'm screaming danger?"), and there have likely been other things to deal with like the birth of Claudio's son, Atlas Hendrix Sanchez. A lot of the lyrics on the record seem to deal with topics like inadequacy, love, fear, and sadness. Certainly, Claudio had a lot of negativity to release with this record.
Vocally, Claudio's performance on this record is pretty good. He uses many different aspects of his voice from the sinister near-whispers of "Eraser" to the soft, low singing of "Colors," to his usual pop-rock-inflected voice that obviously grew from the screamo/post-hardcore scene of the early 2000s. There are even brief moments of that screamo-style harsh vocal in "Here to Mars" which might seem a bit like a throwback to the band's earlier albums. // 7
Overall Impression: After some mixed results with their past few albums, trying new sounds, and sinking deeper into their story line, it somehow feels refreshing to hear this band break out of the mold a little and return to form with a much more pop-influenced record. In a way, it almost feels like this record is a bit of a return to form, though it might not resonate as well with those who were fans of the "Afterman" records over their early material. At times, the album almost gets generic, and you kind of wish for some attachment to the "Amory Wars" story line or some kind of guitar solo or something like that. But the album as a whole has many good, bright moments, and once in a while they still remind you that they're keen to continue pushing their own boundaries and write in many different moods. While this album is most certainly not their most creatively engaging, and it doesn't have the catchiest material of their entire career, it's still a very good release from the band, and the immediacy of the music certainly caught my attention better than any other release they've put out in the past few years. // 7
The Color Before The Sun
Guitar_Maverick, on october 19, 2015 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: "The Color Before the Sun" marks Coheed And Cambria's eighth studio album, and the first not to be based around The Amory Wars storyline. As a defining feature of the past 12 years, some fans could be forgiven for being fearful of what was to come, but the result is an album with a wider variety of song styles than usual, unhindered by the need to adhere to storyline and it creates some positive results that Coheed fans will really love.
Most of the album is not nearly as heavy as "Afterman," the previous double album, the songs instead feature superb melodic writing and expertly explore use of texture to create memorable tracks. "Peace to the Mountain" begins very spa-se but very slowly over 5 minutes of rise and falls, builds to to this epic release of tension when strings and brass join an infuriatingly catchy vocal melody singing the track's title. Unfortunately some other mellow tracks on the album seem to be lacking in direction, and largely drift by without being noticed: "Ghost" seems to act as an intermission to the album which, coming after "Here to Mars" is largely unnecessary. Young Love is also victim of this, it promises more but as it climaxes, the song ends without exploring the ideas further. // 8
Lyrics: This album sees the return of a number pop-punk and post-hardcore tracks reminiscent of Coheed's earlier albums. Tracks like "Island" and the first release "You Got Spirit, Kid" are excellently catchy and feature less of the edgy, dark sections that could put off first time listeners. "Eraser" falls into this genre, yet lacks direction and gets caught between being catchy and poppy with trying to be dark and edgy, the result is a mixed delivery of a song that fails to retain attention.
Coheed do manage to incorporate heavier songs in places and these are arguably the most engaging: "Atlas" (also the name of Claudio's son) grabs you from the start (which is definitely needed following "Ghost"). It is about Claudio's fears of leaving his family for long periods at a time to tour with the band. The whole track is written like a message to his son, and features a beautiful sentiment in the chorus "when daddy goes off... [you're] the love guiding him home." It shows that even without the concept, Claudio is still lyrically excellent. "Audience" is the other track to stand out as heavy on this album, it begins with an emphatic drum beat which is the constant driving force through the song. Even when the anthemic, catchy chorus "This is my Audience" enters, the song retains it's hefty sound, exploring complex syncopated riffs and colossal drum patterns. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall, this album definitely feels like a collection of songs rather than a consistent detailed and elaborate story but that's to be expected. The songs are, for the most part, still excellently written, with relatable lyrical themes and enticing textures which when paired with the excellent production are incredibly engaging. The album still features a wide variety of songs, pulling inspiration from each of their previous 7 albums, ensuring that there's something here for any avid Coheed fan or newcomer to the band. // 8
The Color Before The Sun
kevinvannatte, on october 26, 2015 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 9
Lyrics: 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. // 9
Overall Impression: 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. // 10