This album was released on the 19th here in the UK, so this review is legit and not an advance review.
This was an album which would always be in the line of fire from not only rock fans, but music fans everywhere. Coheed And Cambria have managed to successfully change their writing style, song structures and improve their already impressive lyrics from album to album. Now is the time for them to shine again, as Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
is unleashed on the world. Whether it holds anything against the bands previous discography is hard to say, since once again they have matured musically and lyrically. So let's get started
"Keeping The Blade" might be the most perfect and beautiful way to start this album. It is an orchestral "remix" if you will, of the opening tracks to the last two albums, "Second Blade Turbine Blade" and "The Ring In Return". The way it switches from one to the next is so subtle, and the way the solid violins flows quietly into the entire orchestra is superb. This is one of my favourites on the album, because it's so unique, yet so memorable because of the songs it originally came from. "Always And Never" is almost like a second introduction track, an amazing acoustic 2 minute track backed with child's laughter and Claudio's one-of-a-kind voice. It still feels a little out of place after "Keeping The Blade", but smoothly leads into the first single. I'm sure most Coheed fans will have heard this song, so there is little new things I can say about it. "Welcome Home" is a 6 minute rock opera piece, combining the eerie sounds of the violins with Coheed's over-distorted and complicated sound. Claudio's singing over the top fits perfectly, and only takes up about 3-4 minutes of the song. It caps off with a fantastic, adrenaline-pumping solo, and slowly fades out to the violins playing on their own. The best single Coheed and put out by far.
"Ten Speed (Of God's Blood And Burial)" follows quickly, plucking those dark notes as Claudio's haunting voice sings. The backing vocals add to this song's darker vibe than "Welcome Home", with Claudio's lyrics very unclear and hard to work out. Of course, as typical for a lot of Co&Ca songs, the chorus is insanely catchy, as Claudio yells "Ten speed of God's blood and burial" in a high-pitched fashion. "Crossing The Frame" feels a bit more IKSOSE:3
. It's much cleaner notes and Claudio's style of singing make it much easier to listen to, and it doesn't have the same rush the previous 2 songs had. Still, it's a great song. "Apollo I: The Writing Writer" begins much darker, and then leads into a furious song. The guitar riffs again are much more structured and distorted, and Claudio's voice sounds amazing as he sings the lyrics. Once again, the chorus is quite catchy, allowing the listener a breath of old Coheed air. The bridge to this song is also notable, with someone talking over the background as Claudio's "Woah"'s can barely be heard and drown out to the eerie music.
"Once Upon Your Dead Body" feels a lot more poppier and less energetic that the songs up to now. The guitars feel slowed down, picked beautifully and polished, the drums sound perfect and Claudio's voice feels quieter. It's a great break from the previous darker vibe to the album, and the lyrics are insanely catchy as well. “Woah oh, oh woah I hope you die right now will you drink my chemical?" just sounds scary and angst-ridden, a theme carried through much of this album. But against the music, it's memorable and hard not to forget. Following on with the downbeat style, "Wake Up" is the album's ballad. It is very cheesy, even for Coheed, as the line "I'll do anything for you, Kill anyone for you." is reminiscent of many other songs by the band. But you can't say the music isn't amazing, as the effects on the picked electric guitar are layered over a wonderfully picked acoustic. Now, the second single, "The Suffering", feels much more like "Blood Red Summer". The guitars sound dirty and bring more focus on Claudio's unique voice. The whole "Hey! Hey!" and piano notes from the pre-chorus, and the "Listen well, will you marry me?" remind me of the fore-mentioned song instantly. As well as this, it's probably the catchiest song on the album.
“The Lying Lies of Miss Erica Court" is once again very infectious, utilizing driving guitars and bass riffs with a higher-pitched melody that flows oh so well. It doesn't have the same pop-appeal "The Suffering" has, but its lyrics are also quite memorable. "Mother May I" is quite possibly the climax of the album, even though there is still another 28 minutes left. This album deals with struggles occurring in this person’s life, with death, love, and even with the characters and the fate of his tale. But the way Claudio crosses between the story and his own life is captivating. He ends the song with "So give them the story they want you too", an emotionally-charged ending.
Now is the true finale to this rock album. "The Willing Well Parts I-IV" are combined, a near 30-minute prog-rock adventure, leading through insane song structures, riffs you would never expect from this band, and a dramatic ending to the series. "Part I: Fuel For The Feeding End" begins with an unorthodox palm-muted introduction, and leads into an energetic and incredibly structured song. Its diverse verses lead into an equally catchy chorus. At 2:11, we hear a new side of Claudio. A deeper and darker voice screaming "Run little maggot!" over and over. It's sickening really, and at 3:15 the harmonics of the guitar bring out another new side of the band. At 4:06, Darkness-esque solos come and go as Claudio sings over the top, and it sounds amazing as the solo fully comes out a few seconds later, made up of single notes and licks. Around 6:00, slight hints of synth make their way into this composition, and the song caps off with a fantastic ending. "Part II: Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness" begins with a much more electronic lead-in, and rushes into probably the happiest-sounding song on the album. The melodies from the guitar sound amazing as an acoustic is played in the background, and even Claudio's voice sounds somewhat cheery. The lyrics "You'll burn in hell, while they're digging you out" echo over and over, and instantly make this song hard to forget about. About 2:20 the song shifts gear and speeds into a palm-muted section. The tempo feels faster, and the backing vocals really bring out Claudio's harmonic voice. At 3:10, again, the song changes again and gets much darker than before, leading into a passionately emotional bridge made up of short bursts of guitar melodies and fantastic drumming. This quickly heads into Claudio's "scary" voice again, where he growls "Run rabbit run". 5:25 sees Coheed head into a rock-ballad style movement, with more licks of guitar being places over the top of Claudio's voice. The second part of this extraganza ends with Claudio singing "No one runs faster than you" over and over, as the music fades out slowly.
Right then, "Part III: Apollo I: The Telling Truth". If you'll notice, the song sounds similar to "Apollo I: The Writing Writer". The rhyming structure is the same, with lyrics like "In these words that crash my ears, I'll now stomach this in fear." being changed to "In the worst of all your fears, you have come so far to hear." It's a bold move for the quartet, but they manage to make it sound completely different again. It's more guitar driven this time round. The song feels much darker and harder-sounding, which signifies how The Writer's actions have affected the story. The re-use of the lyrics "So cry on bitch why aren't you laughing now?" are used more openly this time round. Along with this, the riffs used from “Blood Red Summer," and lyrics from “Everything Evil," highlight the significance of past events. It's sort of a trademark for Coheed now, and an easter eggs for fans of both the band and the story. "Part IV: The Final Cut" eventually caps off this album with an almost 8-minute prog-rock composition that will make heads spin. Claudio has called this his tribute to Pink Floyd, and it certainly shows in the music. That Metallica-esque lick of notes from the lead in to the incredibly downbeat palm-muting, it fits to perfection. The lyrics in this song are short and sweet, and the song, 4-piece rollercoaster, and record, ends with a 5 minute instrumental of insane solos, a build-up of melody and an epic piece of music that flows through your ears so beautifully. The song ends about 6:01, and after a few short seconds, heads into the bonus track, a country bluegrass song known as “Bron-Y-Aur," (A tribute to Led Zeppelin). It's a weird way to end the album of 72 minutes, and it finally ends with a dog barking. Apollo's goodbye until Volume Two? Perhaps...
In the end, it's hard to deny Coheed's musicianship keeps growing with every album. What started out as a catchy-yet-talented pop-punk band has found its way into nothing short of a prog-rock opera, filled to the brim with long and harsh solos, structured and incredibly complicated melodies, and lyrics which will stick in your brain for days to come. Of course, the only real way to unfold the story more and make more sense of what is going on is to listen again and again, and you'll unlock secrets and details that you miss on the first few listen. Coheed And Cambria have reinvented themselves yet again, and it surely is a treat to listen to. There's no real way of comparing this to SSTB
, or even IKSOSE:3
. All we can do is hope that the next album will be better than this, and if that is the case, am I happy with this beast of a record