Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension
After two of the longest years of many Coheed and Cambria fans’ lives, The Afterman: Ascension was released Oct. 9. Many fans were worried about the direction the band would take after releasing the concluding chapter to its sci-fi epic in 2010, and these concerns grew with the departure of drummer Chris Pennie and bassist Michael Todd.
With its newest release, Coheed and Cambria sends the message that it is by no means out of ideas. The band rehired original drummer Josh Eppard and added bassist Zach Cooper for Afterman: Ascension, and their playing styles blend superbly with the creative vision and musical ability of front man Claudio Sanchez and guitarist Travis Stever, while returning the band somewhat to its earlier, more raw sound.
The album’s opening number, “The Hollow,” introduces the listener to the musical phrases around which this album is constructed. It includes a dialogue between the two protagonists of the album’s story (one of whom happens to be Sirius Amory, after whom Sanchez’s comic-book series Amory Wars is named).
The solitary piano of this track then makes way for the biting guitar intro to the first single from the album, “Key Entity Extraction 1: Domino the Destitute,” which is one of the most powerful songs on this record. This song has everything that sets Coheed a notch above the rest: Sanchez’s classic high-pitched, layered vocals, powerful riffs, catchy choruses and, of course, epic length (the song is almost eight minutes long). Following this noteworthy number is the second single, “The Afterman,” a song that slows the listener down and pulls at the heartstrings, with Sanchez’s voice swooning over a melancholy guitar loop.
The flow of Afterman: Ascension is perfect, with clusters of songs picking the listener up and then slowing him down. The best example of this is seen in the songs “Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher” and “Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful,” which are the most diametrically opposed songs on the album, yet are back-to-back. This first part of a double album closes with the dandy “Subtraction,” which evokes Sanchez’s electronic side project (The Prize Fighter Inferno) and leaves the listener with a cliffhanger as to what the next part of the album’s story will be.
The concluding half of the Afterman saga, The Afterman: Descension, will be released Feb. 5, and you should be sure to check out the band when it comes to Dallas next March. As for this album, it shows that the band did not limit itself to its original concept. Afterman: Ascension was well worth the wait, and is arguably one of the best-crafted albums of the year. 9.1/10