Coheed and Cambria - The Afterman
Coheed & Cambria's newest studio album, The Afterman, is the closest this band has come to appeasing their devoted progressive/post-hardcore audience while also being able to attract a new audience with their seamless blend of pop and use of electronica in their music. The Afterman was split into two separate albums, Ascension, released on October 9, 2012, and Descension, released on February 5, 2013. The Afterman continues the storyline of The Amory Wars, the lead singer's version of a science-fiction comic, storylines of which are woven into into the fabric of every album Coheed & Cambria has released in the past. Following the theme of Coheed & Cambria's previous albums, Ascension and Descension follow a bell-curve pattern. The band starts each album off with a haunting, slow, and melodic introduction. In The Afterman, these intros ("The Hollow" in Ascension and "Pretethal" in Descension) are littered with soothing acoustic music and soft electronic beats, accompanied with a spoken word monologue in "The Hollow" and ghostly bell chimes in "Pretethal". As the album continues, the tempos speed up, the drumming gets more aggressive, the lyrics get darker, lead singer Claudio's voice gets angrier, and the guitar riffs become faster and more complex. This reaches a climax in the middle of the album ("Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher" for "Ascension" and "Gravity's Union" for "Descension") before slowing the last few tracks of the song down to match the tone of the first track. These latter tracks are where Coheed & Cambria's pop-ier melodies shine above their equally as complex guitar riffs, albeit played in a happier tone.
Signature Coheed guitar solos grace tracks such as "Gravity's Union", while "Goodnight, Fair Lady" mimics the band's previous infamous tracks, "Favor House Atlantic" and "The Suffering". Their notable poetic lyrics may have hit a bump somewhere in the process ("subtract me from your heart… one step at a time, you made us angry"-"Subtraction"), and some uses of an electronic trumpet in "Number City" felt a little out of place, but altogether, this album is classic Coheed & Cambria, which should appease their fans after a stumble in their previous album, Year of the Black Rainbow.
Key songs to check out are their haunting, slower-paced single, "The Afterman," the poppy upbeat "Goodnight, Fair Lady," and the wonderfully crafted, dark, but honest, "Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant."
It appears Coheed & Cambria have finally discovered a place of comfort, where they can fuse their distinct, progressive style with new-age electronic music and surprisingly poppy melodies. The Afterman is truly a unique and wonderfully mesmerizing album.