Welcome Home, Prog!
Before I start, I'll admit I haven't really heard much of Coheed and Cambria before. I had only heard their song 'Welcome Home' which is a belter of a track, and I knew they had a very loyal, and hard-rocking fan base, so I didn't have a lot of prior knowledge to go by when listening to their latest effort 'The Afterman: Ascension'.
For those who are unfamiliar with the band, they are an American band who formed in 1995, and are a mixture of progressive rock, metal and post-hardcore. The vocalist has a mental voice and his range is fairly extraordinary. Also his hair is something special.
Again, as with the Stone Sour album I previously reviewed, this album is part of a double concept album too. Instead this time, the focus is on the Amory Wars; a fight between the Kilgannons and Wilhelm Ryan. It's a heroic journey full of intricately created characters. But now on to the actual content of the record:
The beginning of the album starts with this beautifully played piano section, aided by eerie, almost robotic-like spoken word. Then the transition begins to the second track, and the delay effect from the guitar kicks in, as does everything else and then the unique vocals are introduced as the album begins its journey. You can tell the band have carefully thought this record through, because it seems to be incredibly cohesive throughout and also they have taken the time to create a perfectly produced album. Normally I don't care too much about production, but it is noticeable that The Afterman is made to sound like an Odyssey, a pure hallucinogenic-esque trip. The musicianship is very strong, the band members know how to play the hell out of their instruments.
I will say I am a sucker for a lot of prog music, especially pioneers such as Dream Theater and Rush. This album has moments that are not only inspired by these bands, but certainly compete with them to be just as iconic. There isn't a real comparison I can make to their older work, but this album definitely makes me want to listen to their other material. It shows that prog music is relevant in 2012.
To conclude, it is a solid album for a band who haven't quite broken the mainstream, but this may help them be noted. The sequel to this record, entitled 'The Afterman: Descension' is expected to be released in February 2013, so not long to wait. This album is not necessary aimed at the typical Dungeons & Dragons 'geeks', but it is aimed at those who appreciate good quality music with a great storyline.
Stand-out tracks on this album: Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute, Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful
Rating: 7 out of 10