Coheed and Cambria - Afterman: The DescensionCoheed and Cambria

The Afterman: Descension

01. Pretelethal
02. Key Entity Extraction IV: Sentry The Defiant
03. The Hard Sell
04. Number City
05. Gravity’s Union
06. Away We Go
07. Iron Fist
08. Dark Side Of Me
09. 2’s My Favorite 1

[02/05/13]
[Everything Evil]

Coheed and Cambria are often found as a curious oddity among many metalheads’ music libraries to those that are unfamiliar with the depths of the band’s discography. Despite their beginnings as a post-hardcore band bordering on pop-punk territory, the New York based rock quartet has grown to incorporate elements of classic rock, prog, and metal to formulate a sound all their own while appealing to a wide and diverse audience — something that’s hard to accomplish these days in mainstream rock. The band was thought to have hit their peak in the breakout hit record Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness and then appeared to have been running out of good ideas just two albums later in Year of the Black Rainbow, but with their new double album origin story for their discography-wide conceptual universe The Amory Wars in The Afterman, the band have showed no signs of slowing down as they release their greatest material to date.

Telling the story of astronaut Sirius Amory, who discovers the secrets behind the cosmic energy source The Keywork, The Afterman: Descension picks up where the “sonic cliffhanger” (as frontman Claudio Sanchez calls it) leaves off in The Afterman: Ascension; Sirius is on the brink of losing his life after being possessed and forced to relive the lives of the entities living in The Keywork. As Ascension painted the astronaut’s ascent into space and scientific achievement, Descension not only follows his life as he returns to his home planet, but the emotional depths he reaches as he deals with guilt and remorse for losing the love of his life.

While the story is hard to follow without the companion coffee table book and given the music’s at-times seemingly incongruous nature against the story’s events, Coheed and Cambria’s penchant for storytelling though music is further cemented and ever more stirring on Descension. This record contains some of Coheed’s most emotive work to date, with the one-two downer of somber and reflective ‘Iron Fist’ and the hauntingly beautiful ballad ‘Dark Side Of Me’ putting an emotional weight on the audience before the silver-linings catharsis of ‘2’s My Favorite 1′ ends The Afterman with some much needed closure. Despite the dark themes exploring the death of a loved one and introspective turmoil, the album ends on a high note not only for the album’s protagonist, but for Coheed and Cambria as artists.

While it isn’t as strong as a cohesive album as its predecessor, Descension does house some of the band’s strongest work to date. The band have always successfully bridged progressive rock and pop, which is hard to accomplish while holding onto both artistic integrity and sincerity, but the band have started to explore new ideas within this disparate cross-section of influences. Following the two back to back potential classic hard rock anthems in the acoustic and Latin-infused ‘Sentry The Defiant’ and the funky Pink Floydian ‘The Hard Sell’ with the strangely Wham!-invoking ‘Number City’ would be a head-scratcher for lesser bands, but the sheer talent and confidence put on display across not only Descension but for the entire The Afterman double album puts Coheed and Cambria among the likes of Faith No More and Devin Townsend in their ability to get away with anything.

The Afterman is undoubtedly Coheed and Cambria’s crowning achievement thus far in their careers. The admittedly excessive praise reflected in this review may be off-putting to those who only know the band based on their hits, but accessibility and the band’s tight grasp on writing catchy tunes is only one aspect to Coheed’s multi-faceted success in the realm of rock music. High concept, unparallelled songwriting, and forward-thinking musicianship lies within this double album, and if it isn’t considered a rock and roll classic, there is no justice.

Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Descension gets…

4.5/5

– JR

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