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Coheed and Cambria are a rock band hailing from New York who I had the pleasure of seeing play live only once as yet, but would go and see them again in a flash as live they are absolutely phenomenal.
This album was released in 2002 on the record label Equal Vision, and has a melodic post hardcore feel about it, although heavily influenced by prog-rock, punk rock, emo and blazing metal.
To explain in a little more depth, the frontman of the band Claudio Sanchez wrote a heap of science fiction comic books and this CD is part of the tale of it, confused, you will be. I still am confused now. It is the second part of a projected four-part tetralogy, telling the story of The Amory Wars written by the frontman.
The album introduces us to Coheed and his wife Cambria, the characters from whence the band's name originates. Sanchez's website, www.evilinkcomics.net, lends a description of the story behind the lyrics.
Relistening to the album many years on from when I first introduced myself to it, I now find a lot of it slightly forgettable apart from the odd stand out song.
The lead singer has a voice like I think no other, very high pitched high pitched, and reminds me of someone trying to sing whilst holding their nose!!! However it is beautifully melodic, slightly warbly, and slightly annoying at the same time, and the only thing for me that sets the band apart from other similiar in any associated genres.
My highlight tracks.
Time Consumer is a beautiful piece of work, again very bizarre in lyrics and slightly so in vocals, with a real child like quality to some of the vocals, but the beauty of Claudio is his ability to keep a perfect tune in any pitch or level of noise. The bridge and chorus are delightful, and with a bit of a prog rock edge a very interesting listen, love the sometimes random guitar riffs.
Devil In Jersey City is a far more punkier sounding effort, slightly upbeat even, not really sounding like anything else on the album.
Everything Evil is a real freaky song with slightly disturbing lyrics as are present all through out the album, it is after all based on a comic book as are the whole band (argh my head is hurting AGAIN!). The breakdown at the end is fantastic.
Junesong Provision sounds a bit more like just plain old metal as does Neverender and both sound like quite technical songs.
I tend to just skip over the rest of the album, finding it more of an insight into the talent the band have that did not quite make its way onto this album, they keep getting better and better further up in the discography, but this album for me is just OK, and not one I can sit through and listen to all they way through, due to the fact the vocals occasionally grate on me and a couple of the songs are just well, boring.
It's a real mixed bag so between 6 and 7 out of 10 for me.
*Meet Coheed and Cambria*
A misspent youth meant that a lot of my energy and free time was dedicated to tracking down obscure releases, demo CDs and records from my favourite American punk and indie acts and for many years it was far more common for staples of the US alternative scene to be littering my desk than the British equivalents. A cover mount from one of these magazines (I'm convinced it was Alternative Press) featured a live version of the track 'Devil in Jersey City' from Coheed and Cambria and this was my first exposure to the group and their decidedly nutty progressive combination of heavy metal riffs, space opera and purposefully odd lyrics.
As a band, Coheed and Cambria are an explosion of synapses, a delightful burst of noise, layered choruses and challenging, intelligent songs. Lyrics swing between Gregorian-esque chants to tortured howls and the guitar playing verges on the virtuoso. On the one occasion I had the privilege of seeing this group live front man Claudio Sanchez spent a good ten minutes playing one of the most complicated guitar pieces I've heard from him with the guitar held behind his back! Some artists are deserved show-offs and he definitely falls neatly into this category. Far from being a one man band, Coheed and Cambria are a highly talented group and each contribution from the members on 'The Second Stage Turbine Blade' is a lesson in rock excellence.
Present and correct are:
Claudio Sanchez - Lead vocals, guitar
Josh Eppard - Drums, piano
Michael Todd - Bass, vocals
Travis Stever - Guitar
*The polymath and the perverse storyline*
This album is intended as the first instalment of an epic story arc (hence the space opera comment) and Sanchez (ever the polymath) has penned a series of graphic novels that set the scene for this dark opener. More information on this can be found online at either www.myspace.com/evilinkcomics or www.facebook.com/evilinkcomics. To cut a long story short, Coheed and Cambria are a couple who are misinformed that they are hosts to a terrible virus that threatens the existence of the known universe and (in a cruel double whammy), they are also told that their children have inherited a mutated strain of the virus that will kick in when they reach maturity. The couple are faced with the cruellest decision, in which they believe that they can either destroy their children, or watch the universe burn! Well, I did tell you it was a bit nutty.
*Give Coheed and Cambria a chance!*
I'm aware that this all sounds a bit high faulting' and implore you not to be put off by the complex narrative structure and oddness of the piece. Lurking behind this mask of wilful pretentiousness is a diamond of a heavy metal release, beautiful lyrics and enough memorable choruses to keep a football stadium supplied.
*Top tracks and tips for buyers*
While it's unfair to pick out specific tracks for praise on an album that's intended to be taken as a whole, 'Devil in Jersey City' rocks, 'Delirum Trigger' is a wonderfully introspective piece describing Coheed and Cambria's response to their 'bad news' and '33' continues in a similar vein, with transcendent guitar backing. My version of the CD ends with 'Everything Evil' and bleeds into the moving hidden track 'IRO-Bot', which is one of the most emotively packaged tales of desolation I've ever heard. Please be aware that there are several incarnations of the record available and the 2005 re-issue is probably the best value (with bonus tracks that weren't present on the original release). It can also be downloaded from iTunes and some other legal download sites. As a cautionary note, please consider my comment on listening to the album as a whole - it works better that way.
Looking at Amazon, a factor linking all versions of the record is the fact that it consistently gets given 5 stars by reviewers and I'm not about to call them liars! One for fans of Blood Brothers, Thrice, Thursday and other purveyors of guitar-based smart music. Would also appeal to fans of 'classic' heavy metal groups who aren't averse to epic songwriting (Iron Maiden springs to mind).
A heady cocktail of heavy metal, space opera and madness.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Second Stage Turbine Blade
2 Time Consumer
3 Devil in Jersey City
4 Everything Evil
5 Delirium Trigger
6 Hearshot Kid Disaster
8 Junesong Provision
10 God Send Conspirato