Review Summary: A solid album that suffers and drags in some places. It lacks the emotional diversity and delivery of their first two albums but maintains the progressive nature and excellent musicianship of their third - well worth checking out.
Put into context, 2007 was a year full of surprises, particularly in terms of music. There were disappointments, such as the enjoyable yet flawed Ire Works from Dillinger Escape Plan. And of course there were some wonderful albums courtesy of bands such as Pig Destroyer and Architects. Everyone has their favourites but what can be said is that some of the albums released were neither amazing or poor - they sat comfortably in a middle ground, possibly as an album that grows on you or maybe just one that requires a little bit of effort. This is where I actually get to the point - Coheed and Cambria's final installment of their pretentious yet brilliantly epic story is one of these albums.
Coheed and Cambria are one of those bands who have always been very consistent. Their debut was a fabulous showcase of the band's ability to meld together rock, pop and elements of metal into a unique styling, topped off with influences from that confusing world of progressive rock, most notably in the sprawling concept conveyed through Claudio Sanchez's lyrics. Coupled with his voice, it was pretty much a winning formula (aside from those who detest his Geddy Lee style intonation and register) and they continued the trend with a wonderful follow up album. It was different but it was still Coheed; they hadn't sold out and become a mere shadow of their former selves (but saying that, the band's music is still commercially viable and always has been). However, with their third album, they did progress and developed their sound into something a little darker, a little more complex. Good Apollo IV was an album full of little quirky surprises; more solos than before, some pretty intense riffs (check out The Willing Well I), more complex song structures and some superbly catchy numbers (The Suffering and Welcome Home). So, does Good Apollo...No World For Tomorrow continue this? In essence, yes.
But in some ways, no. Don't get me wrong, this is by no means a bad album - quite the opposite to be exact. But for me, this just doesn't match up to the deeply emotional ride that was Second Stage Turbine Blade, or the wondrous standout songs that In Keeping Secrets provided, or even the infinitely more epic and progressive Good Apollo IV. This could be due to many things; the departure of long time drummer Joshua Eppard, whom many disliked for his simplicity. In my opinion, Eppard was as crucial as every other number - his basic yet still interesting drumming fit the music Sanchez and co. produced excellently and he never tried to over complicate things. I feel his presence is missed throughout but that's certainly not to say that Taylor Hawkins didn't handle drum duties well. The title track pays homage to this - his timekeeping is spot on and his fills and beat variation is pretty good. The best word to describe this would be solid - you won't find any missed beats on the album or any out of place fills. He sticks to his guns and does it well.
Whilst we're on the subject of the title track, let me just say, it's fantastic. For me, this ranks up with the epics of Co&Ca's previous albums, those namely being Everything Evil, The Crowing and Welcome Home. After the introductory track of The Reaping (this not actually featuring that memorable musical motif present in all the band's previous introduction tracks), which on it's own is a great piece of calm yet strangely ominous music, albeit short lived, the title track kicks in with an almighty punch. The first riff is simply golden - Claudio and Travis have really outdone themselves in the riff department on quite a number of tracks here. The atmosphere and styling of Good Apollo IV is definitely continued on No World For Tomorrow and it's probably a good thing too. As the song progresses and the rest of the instruments settle in, you can't help but feel that if the rest of the album continues in the same vein than this is undoubtedly going to be an exceptional album. Mic Todd's bass is clear and interesting, despite many thinking he is one of the weaker members of the group. He never strictly follows the guitar lines, choosing more to keep with the bass drum and every now and again throw a few fills out here and there. It works well and his tone sounds crisp and clear - in fact, the whole of the production of the album is pretty much flawless. Claudio's vocals aren't hugely different from Good Apollo IV - he is always in key but his unpredictable emotional bursts of fluctuation found on their debut are missed. Nevertheless, vocal wise, he is beastly and there is also a lot to be said about his guitar technique. Both rhythm and lead is a facet that helps to make the album enjoyable - The Hound (Of Blood and Rank) pays testament to shred almost, with a guitar solo full of licks that echo the 80's. The intro to both The Hound and The Running Free hint at Claudio's electronic influences too - it sounds retro but certainly not outdated.
Another thing that the band have always been apt at is being catchy without being annoying - Devil In Jersey City for example has a pre chorus that just tears away at your brain for days. The epic and driving choruses of both the title track and The Hound are great sing-a-long and fist pumping sections. Feathers, a more post hardcore track, features an emotional chorus and slightly higher and whinier(?) vocal delivery. At first, the track made me want to slowly drown myself - but it kind of grew on me. That's the thing with the whole album in fact - at first listen, it didn't really register with me. Yeah, I liked a few tracks and thought odd riffs were cool and such but as a whole, I was disappointed. I don't think the band's choice of single was the greatest either - if anything, instead of The Running Free, they should have selected the anthem title track. Claudio's vocal delivery seems slightly forced and is kind of boring, which is a little unusual for him. The riffs also seem a tad forced at times, particularly the intro. Whilst I don't hate the song I still don't hold it in very high regard - the chorus is so-so, with the predictable backing vocals of "woah-woah-oh-oh" cutting through my speakers and jabbing away at my eardrums. Tiresome to say the least - perhaps it's just a trademark of theirs but after they seemingly insert them into more than half the tracks, it does get a tad old.
The latter half of No World For Tomorrow consists mostly of The End Complete, a mini saga in itself almost. Mother Superior is likely to go down as one of the band's best 'ballad' type songs. I myself think it is nothing extraordinary - it kind of drags for me but I can certainly enjoy it. One thing that the band have definitely improved upon is their clean guitar work. It's quite enchanting in many places and the interplay and chemistry between Sanchez and Stever cannot go unnoticed. But the most noticeable thing about this album is that the songs with more gusto and energy are in fact the better ones - Gravemakers and Gunslingers simply emphasizes this. Another great solo and the riffs throughout are top quality, with the rhythm section complementing everything perfectly. here, Claudio is a bit more aggressive in his vocal delivery, which I like very much. After the slow burning Mother Superior, it does feel like a breath of fresh air. Justice In Murder continues to breathe life into the album, perhaps a little less so. It's definitely clear that after eight tracks the album could go either way.
And it does kind of go both ways. The remainder of the album is very hit and miss with me - the five parts of The End Complete hold host to a large number of great moments but these are often counterbalanced by boring moments that seem to drag on endlessly. The Fall of House Atlantic sets a very different tone, with an almost hypnotic chanting over the top of some flamenco inspired, almost merged with middle eastern type style guitar work. It's certainly an interesting listen, if a bit weird. Nevertheless, it's only just over a minute long anyway. Radio Bye Bye is a conventional Coheed song - superb build up in the verses, straight into a catchy as hell chorus. Believe me, you'll probably be wailing "radio" as Claudio does - it is kind of hard not to. Riff wise, I love the song to bits and the bumbling bass is the background is quite enticing. More lead work too - it does have to be said, it's going to be very nice to hear what the band produce now that they have concluded The Amory Wars story. One thing for sure is that the guitar work will be well worth a listen.
The actual song entitled The End Complete is, to be perfectly honest, a little weak. Coming it at a little under eight minutes, it's a bit hard to be so into it when it's so repetitive. The clean sections are very good however, with the end of the song being very gentle and very enchanting - it's just the lackluster chorus and lagging verses that put me off enjoying it that much. It does pick up a bit in the middle, almost paying homage to some of the heavier side found on Good Apollo IV. However, Claudio's raspy screams are pretty hard to stomach I feel. More shred too - but you can't help but feel that its one of those solos you've heard before. I really don't like The Road and the Damned that much either - this is when the album begins to drag. Previously, their albums finished on a relatively strong note - Second Stage Turbine Blade had God Send Conspirator, a gem within a set of already superb songs and IKSOSE had 2113, naturally. However, here everything sounds plodding - the leads are unforgettable despite being well written and it's only when Claudio sings in his really quiet and timid way that my ears perk up. The same thing applies to On the Brink - it drags on forever. After a short ambient intro supplemented with strings that remind me of Zelda, the song never really picks up. This is where the progressive side of the band begins to show through - the guitar noodling and interspersion with piano is admirable but not particularly attention grabbing to much extent. Don't get me wrong, it's a very beautiful and haunting song in places, mostly in the middle but it just seems to go on forever. I really don't like the heavier section either - a half hearted chant that I can't quite make out is thrown over the top of a very repetitive riff. And put it this way - the scream Claudio emits doesn't touch the sheer brilliance of the banshee shriek found on the intro to Hearshot Kid Disaster.
So once the two minutes of slow progressive, moody music has finished, that's it. You've sat through the last installment of Coheed and Cambria's retelling of The Amory Wars. Some have been wowed and left in awe, others disappointment. I'd like to think I sit somewhere in the middle ground, much like the album itself (it being good - just good), appreciating the album yet still thinking it could have been better. Essentially, fans should purchase this so that they have the complete saga at their listening disposal. But for people seeking to get into the band, I definitely wouldn't start here. Nevertheless, No World For Tomorrow is a great album in many respects. It just so happens to suffer from the disease of filler tracks here and there, as well as the painful, slow dragging songs that simply bore a hole through the skull. It might not be perfect but Coheed and Cambria have demonstrated that they certainly didn't ruin their discography. Quite the contrast essentially; the band's talent is undeniable and their improvement in both instrumentation and some aspects of their songwriting is noteworthy. I simply can't wait to hear with what they come up with next.
But for now, I'm sure I'll be revisiting the story found within their first four albums time after time.
No World For Tomorrow
The Hound (Of Blood and Rank
Gravemakers and Gunslingers
The End Complete II: Radio Bye Bye