Review Summary: Coheed and Cambria set the benchmark with their debut album. They may never surpass it and they can carry on trying, but this album simply proves that they had it right first time round. Catchy, dark, epic and magnificent - a true alt. rock classic.
Perfect albums seldom cross my path. Sure, there are many classic albums out there but for the most part, even the very best albums have nuances or minor flaws that bring them down, even if it is just a tad. Not long ago, I really disliked Coheed and Cambria. Claudio Sanchez's voice pierced my eardrums with the kind of unwanted intensity that isn't dissimilar to getting beaten up on the street - yes, I really did dislike it that much. But after much persuasion, I decided to give them another chance.
The band's debut album may have taken a little while for me to get to grips with but I can safely say it is an alternative rock gem. Upon first listen, I found it to be a little overblown and it certainly did come across as pretentious. In all fairness, whilst I admit I have developed a strong childlike love of the band, I still think the concept surrounding their albums is the height of pretentiousness. But when the music is this good, quite frankly, I don't care. After the introductory instrumental of the title track, one of the albums early highlights kicks in. Time Consumer is magical; a perfect combination of interesting song arrangement, unique and emotional vocals and solid musicianship. After a mid-tempo instrumental section, Claudio comes in. This guy can sure as hell sing - his alto register vocals suit the music perfectly and whilst he may be the main thing that divides people's opinions about the band, to be truthful he IS the band. By the time the epic chorus has come around, you're starting to dig the band more and more.
"Maria, my star, Matthew good night, you know, my law, when you'll be forgiven!"
Catchy as hell, that's for sure. The song even boasts a totally unexpected and brilliantly executed guitar solo - tasteful and most definitely orgasmic. The single from the album and undoubtedly one of the band's most well-known tunes, Devil in Jersey City, is a superb poppy-influenced track with driving guitars and obnoxiously catchy vocal hooks. But what differentiates the band from others who have perfected the tried and tested pop-punk influenced hit single formula is undoubtedly the content and themes portrayed by Claudio's lyrics.
"When you're down, on the floor, bleeding bastard..."
Cut short, the song is about one of the more prominent characters, Coheed, dreaming of his daughter Josephine and her boyfriend Patrick being brutally beaten by a gang called the Jersey City Devils. Oh and they rape Josephine. Pretty dark I'd say...Time Consumer is about Coheed poisoning his twin offspring, Maria and Matthew. Again, Claudio may have some issues and all, but it works wonderfully well seeing as the music gives off this happy upbeat feel.
I've heard a lot of people say that the rhythm section of the band is weak and some even go as far as to say it's boring and almost ruins the music. Well, in my opinion, bullshi
t. Whilst the drumming is far from complex, it's simple and effective. The bass actually does some awesome lines and fills, most notably in Time Consumer and the undeniably brilliant Delirium Trigger. Suffice to say, I'm quite happy that the drums are simple and the bass not too crazy. If you want crazy rhythm sections, go and listen to Death...
Second Stage Turbine Blade is an album that can take a while to digest. This is largely due to the huge, confusing and intricate background story to all of the lyrics. I won't go into any depth (for those who want to find out more, read some of the other Coheed and Cambria reviews or get on wikipedia) but the story is definitely an interesting one. For those who decide to get into the story as well as the music, I salute you - because it really does add to the overall enjoyment. Claudio's lyrics are far from simple or cliche either; he draws you in and coupled with the incredibly emotional delivery of some of the lines, it's no wonder that everyone seems to have a good wank over this band on sputnik.
One of the biggest draws for me on this album was the guitar work. It might not be as technically proficient as the playing found on their recent album, nor as epic as some of the material found on this albums successor. But hell, it works and works really well. The simple chords that carry the verses of Time Consumer; the opening and somewhat complex clean riff of Everything Evil or the sleazy rock blues-inspired intro of Hearshot Kid Disaster. Whatever Travis or Claudio come up with, it slays. End of. Whilst we're on the subject of Hearshot Kid Disaster, the song boasts one of the craziest screams in all musical existence. Further proves that while he might sound as if he doesn't have any, Claudio has cojones when it comes to vocals.
It is difficult to review an album that is as deep and as complex as Second Stage Turbine Blade. As far as songwriting goes, this is definitely Coheed and Cambria's best album. That goes for emotion too - Claudio sounds particularly manic on Delirium Trigger (the chorus has some of the best voice-breaks I've ever heard). Each of the ten tracks (if you discount IRO-Bot, the secret ditty at the end of God Send Conspirator) offers something and brings everything to the table in terms of talent, creativity and all round excellence. If you heard Good Apollo and thought it was good but not great, I'd recommend this. A truly magnificent album at best and undoubtedly a classic in the alternative/progressive genres.
Devil in Jersey City