Progressive rock masters Coheed and Cambria should add the word “consistency” into their name somewhere. Coheed, Cambria and Consistency. All right, fine, so it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, but it does accurately describe the band’s illustrious career so far, as they’ve managed to constantly spew out album after album of progressive, experimental and sometimes downright bonkers-yet-brilliant releases. Their latest offering, part one of a double concept album, is entitled The Afterman: Ascension, and is definitely no exception to this rule.
Coheed and Cambria have, in some ways, always come across as a little ‘tough to get into’. Maybe inaccessible is the right word, because there are so many aspects of the music that take so much getting used to for listeners. Whether it’s the ridiculous amount of concept back-story to each album (and all the albums progressively), or even something so simple as the high pitched, snappy singing style of lead vocalist and songwriter Claudio Sanchez, Coheed and Cambria have always appealed to a very specific set of people, and that’s the way they like it.
The Afterman: Ascension is more of the same, in effect. Those who aren’t used to Coheed and Cambria will both dislike the music, and not fully appreciate it, so it would make sense for the “newbie” as it were to begin listening to Coheed and Cambria at a point where they are less established as storytellers.
To put it into perspective, this double album comes in conjunction with a hard-covered, coffee-table book that tells the story of Sanchez’s science fiction universe. It’s that immersive.
Musically, it’s hard to fault The Afterman: Ascension. There’s everything that one would expect from a Coheed album, and it definitely leaves the listener wanting the second part of the double album, which is great to see. Coheed are moving away from messing around with their sound to a more established, recognisable one, which shows the bands immense talent for both playing their instruments and crafting an album, but also their intelligence to make the decisions that will steer the album’s direction where they want it to actually go.
Problems – very, very few. The only real one is one that’s already been mentioned. Listeners – the best piece of advice is: do not begin a journey listening to Coheed and Cambria with this album. Not because it’s bad, but because it will be impossible to appreciate it fully.
So overall, The Afterman: Ascension is a fantastic album from a well established band, who know exactly what they want from an album, wrote the songs, put it together and released it. It’s a fitting start to yet another chapter in the epic saga of Coheed and Cambria, and this reviewer feels like there’s still a lot of gas left in the proverbial tank. Or should that be hyperdrive?
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. The Hollow (2:11)
2. Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute (7:51)
3. The Afterman (3:11)
4. Mothers of Men (4:11)
5. Goodnight, Fair Lady (3:23)
6. Key Entity Extraction II: Hollywood the Cracked (3:26)
7. Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher (5:47)
8. Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful (6:22)
9. Subtraction (3:07)