Sound — 9
Coheed And Cambria fans are in for a trip. Vocalist/guitarist Claudio Sanchez's solo project called The Prize Fighter Inferno has released a CD that dabbles in all sorts of styles and it's actually amazing how easily he transitions from genre to genre. On My Brothers Blood Machine, it is apparent that Sanchez has been hiding a lot up his sleeve and it's likely to go beyond your expectations. The CD has been said to be a continuation of the ongoing concept albums that Coheed And Cambria have released over the years, all of which deal with three species called Prise, Mage, and Man. How connected this solo project is to the continuing storyline will be up to the fans' interpretation, but the musical results actually go a bit beyond what Coheed and Cambria has done in the past -- and they've done a lot. On the first track, it's hard to tell which way My Brothers Blood Machine will go. The Going Price For Home is merely Sanchez's vocals backed by an electronic drum machine and doesn't necessary pack a punch. That being said, it is still an intriguing and gutsy way for a rock guitarist to start off his solo CD. The Going Price For Home might have some Coheed and Cambria fans going, What the hell? But if you're able to keep an open mind, you're likely to be pleasantly surprised. Sanchez leaves the drum machine behind on most tracks and displays his acoustic prowess at these times. One of the most beautifully constructed tracks is The Fight Of Moses Early & Sir Arthur McCloud. What Sanchez has created in this song feels a bit like stepping back into Medieval times. There is a clarity in his acoustic work that has just as much effect as a grinding solo would in an electric track and that's pretty amazing. With his hushed vocals layered over the acoustic, the track is easily the best one on the CD. The album does tend to take huge turns along the way, which may annoy some listeners. But if you're a fan of eclectic music -- including dance music, yes dance -- then a song like The Margretville Dance will also likely be a favorite. The synthesizer is brought out on this track and Sanchez creates a Michael Jackson-George Michael-esque hybrid pop song. As frightened as some of you are right now, it actually is one infectious song. If you do prefer your music a bit more raw and guitar-oriented, these synth tracks will have you fast-forwarding, however. And of course, if you are familiar with the often high-pitched vocals of Sanchez, that could also be a turnoff to some as well.
Lyrics — 9
One of the coolest aspects of My Brothers Blood Machine is that Sanchez provides the printed lyrics on a set of tarot cards that comes with the CD. Just as there are some mystical-sounding aspects to the music, the lyrics also keep to that same theme. There is definitely a story being told in the lyrics, and the various cryptic lyrical passages will keep fans busy trying to find the proper interpretation. Even if you don't have the time to piece the lyrical puzzle together, Sanchez has a beautiful way with words that is literary in a sense. In The Missing McCloud Boys, there is seemingly a murder that has occurred and the family is left to solve the crime. Sanchez sings, Which one killed my boy? My question to the incriminating convoy; I want death & blood for my songs; In the curse that warms the sun. These are lyrics you don't usually get from your average rock musician. In The Going Price For Home, the theme of love is taken on a different path than the usual sappy songs. Sanchez sings, And I've paid the price of solitude with wish to worry while you're away; With all grace to allow my hand the travel & worth here across your face; I love you more than you could know. The lyrics may be a bit too conceptual for some audiences, but their construction is still impressive.
Overall Impression — 9
As solo projects go, The Prize Fighter Inferno is one of the most successful in a long time. The reason why is simple: Claudio Sanchez never limits himself to being just a rock guy. While there is a bit of the electric guitar on the CD, it is primarily the acoustic, the synthesizer, and Sanchez's exceptional vocal diversity that are in the spotlight. Without a full band, Sanchez still has a wide enough range of musical experience that he can still create a full sound. It may not be quite on par with Pink Floyd's The Wall, but it does have the same feel at times. There are quiet moments where it is evident that Sanchez is using a higher pitch and softer-toned guitar to create a new character, and that helps in constructing the storyline. While the songs might now appeal to all the Floyd fans out there, there is still something to be said about a one-man band even getting close to an album like The Wall.