Album Review: Coheed and Cambira – The Afterman: Ascension

The history of the concept album has a healthy if not conflated pedigree; from Marillion to My Chemical Romance, David Bowie to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, many bands have committed to the idea of telling a story over an entire album. Yet there can be few bands who are able to lay claim to the idea of devoting their entire careers to the evolution of one overarching story.

Not so Coheed and Cambria.

Taking their name from the two main characters of an ongoing story penned by frontman Claudio Sanchez, the storyline has since blossomed into a genuinely ambitious multimedia project spanning comic books and novels – a tale of which the music of Coheed and Cambria is but one aspect, albeit a significant one.

Released on 9th October 2012, the band’s latest album, The Afterman: Ascension is a heavy mix of classic rock riffs and science fiction narrative, the record is the band’s sixth album, a story that takes place within the mythology of the Amory Wars but is not a thematic continuation of the saga.

Spanning nine lengthy tracks, the sound of the record is somewhat nostalgic for this writer, harkening back in terms of composition to bands such as progressive metal icons, Queensrÿche.

Focusing on issues within Sanchez’s real life and filtered through the collective mythology of the universe he charts, the album is both weighted and melodic; both experimental, taking queues from the work of Atticus Ross, whilst also still retaining the core style of what has made the band so popular thus far.

Yet if the music itself can been likened to Queensrÿche, the themes have certainly more in keeping with Fear Factory, portraying failure and darkness, serial rapists and online stalkers as well as grief, regret and loss.

With softer standout tracks such as album closer, Subtraction and instrumental opener, The Hollow, the record also posits heavy moments such as Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher and Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute.

A weighty album rooted in a heavily ambitious concept, Coheed and Cambria’s latest record is well worth both your time and attention.

Jacob Milnestein 

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