Sometimes you just have to get some necessary evils out of the way right up front. So… ahem:
There, that’s over with.
Oh, it’s certainly true that Coheed and Cambria have reaped the benefits of the prog-rock sphere better than perhaps anyone for the better part of the last decade. Parts Rush, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and EmoPunkFuntimeNow!, Coheed has made a name for itself by making progressivism fun and accessible. Also, by tying in its music with a comic book storyline called The Amory Wars written by the band’s crazyhair frontman, Claudio Sanchez. Which is going to be turned into a feature film by Mark Wahlberg whaaaaaaaaaaaat? But that’s not important right now.
What is important is that you trash the myopic blanket “prog rock” label before listening to either half of Coheed’s new double album, The Afterman. Ambitious, stylistically varied, and just a little bit insane, The Afterman benefits especially from its second half, the just-released Descension.
For the average listener, the comic book story might take a backseat to the music, but it’s at least nice to know that there is a story going on. If nothing else, it explains the robotic dialogue at the end of certain tracks. For most of us, the meat of the album occurs between said dialogue – in the songs themselves.
From the metalocalyptic “Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant” to the Rush-meets-Thin Lizzy stylings of “Away We Go,” Coheed experiment heavily in the art of genre bending, succeeding perhaps most pungently on the bonkers “Number City”.
And let’s talk about Number City for a moment. Because what’s the last Coheed song you heard with a prominent brass section? It’s rock, it’s ska, it’s pop, it’s over the top in all the right ways. Major props to the band for stepping outside their comfort zone and somehow coming up with the best song on the album.
Even when Descension reigns itself back, it’s never slow; it’s a “wall of activity” record of sorts in which something is always happening. There’s certainly no time wasted here – Descension is as efficient as it is fun. The one video that’s been released so far is for the slow burner “Dark Side of Me,” which is definitely a Coheed video but also [fortunately/regrettably] is not really a Coheed video.
Descension closes out on the calculated optimism of one of its most straightforward pop-punkish tracks ever, “2’s My Favorite 1”. It’s an energetic and appropriate end to a crazy fun album that only asks a few listens of you. Just be prepared – this is no Second Stage Turbine Blade or In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. But it is hella fun and a solid addition to the Coheed stable.
(2) Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant
(3) The Hard Sell
(4) Number City
(6) Away We Go