Review Summary: Catchy as can be, great instrumentals, captivating vocals and intriguing lyrical concept to boot. Why the hell wouldn't you buy this?
Just what makes an album good? Naturally, many different dynamics must be taken into consideration. Originality is always held in high regard, as are the instrumental aspects and vocals. Some have trouble enjoying an album unless there is a concrete lyrical message present. However, in light of all these aspects one can easily be deemed more essential than those already mentioned. Atmosphere. Regardless of how different a band’s style may be, how talented the musicians, or how good the vocalist is, a person will quickly dismiss the band completely if they cannot get into their sound.
Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness
is the third release from progressive rock band Coheed & Cambria and a stunning exemplar of just how far a wonderful ambience can take an album. On paper, this album doesn’t seem like anything too
special. There’s some fantastic guitar work, good bass and drums, a slight contrast provided by differing tracks, a neat lyrical concept and consistency in the quality of tracks. All of that is splendid, but the same could be said for hundreds of other albums. However, when those aforementioned qualities are mingled with Coheed’s unbridled enthusiasm and lively persona something that by itself would only be great becomes miraculous.
The Amory Wars
is a series of comic books written by Coheed front man Claudio Sanchez. Aside from being comics The Amory Wars
is the theme for Coheed’s discography, which is set to be five releases. The basic plot is antagonists Wilhelm Ryan and Mayo Deftinwolf devise a maniacal scheme to murder the children of Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon. By doing this the two antagonists hope to wield the power of the dormant Monstar virus, which is hidden with Coheed, to destroy a rival Mage.
In Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV
, we join the storyline already in progress. This album differs greatly the from its two predecessors in the sense that it steps outside the main storyline and speaks of the authors turmoil while writing the series. The author had a series of delusional conversations with his ten-speed bicycle about an unfaithful former lover. The bike convinces the writer he must kill Ambellina (who was sent to guide Claudio, son of Coheed and Cambria) in order to properly end his story. At the end of the album Ambellina is flung and impaled on a spear, leaving Claudio alone on his conquest to destroy heaven’s fence and kill Wilhelm Ryan. While the plot of The Amory Wars
may be hard to follow at times it is definitely one of the elaborate lyrical concepts ever and an intriguing edition to Coheed’s already enthralling style of music.
The musical portion of the album were not as complex as the lyrical concept, but magnificent none the less. The heavier songs were filled with catchy riffs and melodies and the lighter tracks beautiful patterns of chords, lightly picked creating an eternally calm atmosphere. There could be no greater example of this album’s excellent riffage than powerhouse track Welcome Home
. The track opens with a catchy little riff, first played cleanly and then plastered with distortion. With some fiery pinch harmonics thrown in it’s a perfect start to one of the album’s best songs. Another fantastic riff is the intro to Crossing The Frame
. It jogs along vibrantly as high pitched notes roll swiftly through the listeners ears. Wake Up
is a shining example of this album’s softer side. The whole song is wonderfully eloquent and the guitar work is not exception. It saunters along, perfectly accenting Claudio’s vocals. This created a truly moving aura and was definitely a high point of the album. Coheed & Cambria aren’t well known for their shredding capabilities, but given the opportunity they can display some very impressive guitar work. Case in point, Welcome Home
. Aside from the intro riff I mentioned earlier it also has a massive guitar battle. Claudio and Travis take turns soloing for about a minute, which may not seem very long, but they pack a whole lot of shredding into that minute. It wasn’t the best, but perhaps the most impressive part of the album. Both men showed they know their way around a fret board, displaying good knowledge of scales and making good use of bends for a climactic effect.
Not to let the guitar have all the fun the other instruments had impressive showings as well. The violin was great in the introductory track Keeping The Blade
. It starts off eerily, like something out of a horror film and is soon accompanied by the piano, which was well done too. It’s around the minute and twenty second mark where things start to get really extraordinary. The violins become layered, playing lovely harmonies which made for a exceptionally awe-inspiring atmosphere.
However, the most impressive part of this album was not the instrumentals, but the vocals. Claudio has one of the best voices in the history of music. He never wanders out of key and has fabulous tone. He is often compared to Geddy Lee of Rush as both men are known to sing in high pitches, although I personally don’t hear much resemblance. They both sing in high registers, yes, but their tones don’t sound much alike. Honestly, I think Claudio is the better vocalist of the two. He seems to have more range. In the early goings of Wake Up
his voice is quite high pitched and very crisp, where as in tracks like Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood & Burial)
his voice is much lower and has a slight rasp. Claudio’s voice is probably the greatest contributor to this album’s most appealing factor…
Catchiness. Once you’ve listen to the album it’s nearly impossible to extract it’s memorable melodies from your head, especially the heavier, more upbeat tracks. The Suffering
is a blistering model of this. Since hearing it, its tune seems to linger in my mind endlessly. In light of this, I’d have to say The Suffering
is the album’s best song. I’ve become completely infatuated with it.
Don’t think that when I say things like “one of the album’s best songs” that it means there are songs one here that I think some songs aren’t good, or shouldn’t be here. While some songs are better than others there isn’t a single track I can listen to and say “If this wasn’t here, I wouldn’t miss it”. Every track is its own unique addition to the album and if any of the songs were missing this album would not be the same.
Overall, this album is a most own. Some may have difficulty getting into it, as Claudio’s voice is not something most people fall in love with right away. But worry not, he will grow on you and once you leap over that initial barrier there should be nothing to stop you from enjoying this album in all its immense glory.