Progressive rock supergroup Coheed and Cambria released the first part of their epic double-album attempt last year with, imaginatively titled, The Afterman:Ascension, and it was well received to critical acclaim. Now, after what seems like no time at all, they’re back with the second half, the predictably-named The Afterman: Descension.
Coheed have always been an acquired taste for some. Their unique brand of music, coupled with their just-as-unique way of delivering it, has always been difficult for some listeners to get into. The Afterman: Ascension was a bad place for a new listener to begin their journey listening to Coheed and Cambria, and this album, Descension, being the second part to that album, is an even worse place to start.
The opening to the album, Pretelethal, is slow, acoustic and melodic, and an example of what could be called a typical introduction-song, but instead it does actually somehow give off the impression of ‘picking up where we left off’. Whether that’s because a listener would be aware of the existence of the first album, or whether it’s just a cleverly written song, it’s difficult to tell, but either way, it’s impressive. After that, Descension dives straight back in with Key Entity Extraction V Sentry The Defiant, a hard hitting, guitar heavy and solo-filled track that has an immense amount of energy, and plunges a listener right back into the fray, as it were. Pretelethal is the listeners’ one chance to get into this album before it hits them full in the face again.
A dark kind of energy seems to be the theme on Descension, asthe songs are all low and heavier than normal Coheed and Cambria, which definitely does give off the impression of a journey downwards, and is so probably deliberate. It’s also one of the first Coheed and Cambria albums where the underlying story to the music is more apparent – the transition between Key Entity Extraction V and The Hard Sell is a good example of this.
There’s a lot to listen to on Descension, both musically, and content wise. So,on a more ‘on-the-surface’ note, it’s very easy to get lost in everything presented, and will probably require both a lot of patience, and several listen-throughs before it can be properly appreciated by a listener. Coheed have pulled out all the stops with this one, and presented something infinitely complex, but infinitely amazing at the same time. The music is layered very nicely, with a lot of vocal harmonies, strings, sound effects, synths and wonderfully toned guitars. Content wise, the lyrics are so in-depth they actually need looking up. Wonderful.
So it’s an amazing, epic finish to the double-album. Once a listener hits the end of Descension, it’s necessary for them to sit back and actually digest what they’ve just heard, much like finishing a lengthy and difficult book – and if a listener doesn’t need to do that, they’ve not listened to it properly. It’s worth the time one puts into it, though, and one can only hope that after this project, Coheed and Cambria don’t disappear into the night. Both Afterman albums deserve a well earned 10/10.
2. Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant
3. The Hard Sell
4. Number City
5. Gravity’s Union
6. Away We Go
7. Iron Fist
8. Dark Side of Me
9. 2’s My Favourite 1.