Coheed and Cambria
The Afterman: Ascension


4.0
excellent

Review

by Robert Lowe CONTRIBUTOR (90 Reviews)
October 9th, 2012 | 223 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Welcome home Coheed fans, The Afterman: Ascension is so good it erases the damage done by the less than stellar last two records by the band, and stands as the group's best album in seven years.

Coheed and Cambria have had some hard times lately, not so much with album sales, but with the invaluable aspect of releasing albums: fan reception. After two less than stellar records made on the last limbs of The Amory Wars storyline, many fans were beginning to abandon ship. The overly 80's tone of No World For Tomorrow coupled with the heavy and serious, yet stale sound of Year of the Black Rainbow had many fans crying foul at the band's sense of direction and seeming lack of passion in the band, especially after losing their original bass player and drummer. Coheed stood at their lowest point and would either falter under the pressure, or rise above their adversity. Fortunately strength through adversity is an expression that rings especially true with Coheed and Cambria's 6th studio album The Afterman: Ascension.

Coheed and Cambria are finally living up to their admittedly high standards yet again with this release. The technicality and serious tone from the last album are still present, but they never get in the way of the excellent songwriting. The band opted to refine the sound of Black Rainbow rather than abandoning it completely, keeping the best qualities of that record and integrating it into the band's outstanding pre-existing blend of hard rocking prog rock and a strong emotional core.

The nine songs on The Afterman: Ascension are tight, focused, and short with only one song crossing the seven minute mark and most in the three to four minute range. The Afterman: Ascension is rather short mostly because it is half of a double album, with the other half set to be released in a few months in the vein of the way Mesmerize and Hypnotize were released by System of a Down in 2005. The result is a tight, trimmed down runtime with little room for filler or missteps. Sandwiching seven tightly crafted prog rock songs are an electronic story setting opener, and an acoustic closer. The main focus of the record is the "Key Entity Extraction" suite, comprised of the second track and standout "Domino the Destitute," and the penultimate trio tracks. The first song "Domino the Destitute" is an epic sweeping track that calls back to previous large scope Coheed tracks like "Welcome Home" and "In Keeping Secrets." It's the track where Coheed give it their all and aim to prove they still have it and it succeeds at its mission. The second of the suite "Holly Wood the Cracked" starts off with the heaviest verse the band has ever had, then shifts seamlessly into one of the band's signature big and catchy choruses. This dichromatic formula proves that the band is still the undisputed champion of both styles. The continuous blaring of "Hang your secrets hang em up hang em up now" from the track "Vic The Butcher" is the catchiest the band has been in a long time and shows they've still got what it takes at sounding big and radio friendly. The non suite tracks peppered in the album are great as well and certainly not filler. The build up/pay off song structure of "Mothers of Man" explodes into one of the catchiest and biggest choruses the band has ever had, while "The Afterman" is a great tender tune that contrasts most of the rest of the album well. What Coheed and Cambria pull off in 40 minutes should be the talk of the town for most modern prog rock bands that can't do anything nearly as focused or complete in 80 minutes.

The original bassist seems to be gone for good after an arrest, but the original drummer Josh Eppard is back, and the band's trust and familiarity in his ability to set the backbone of the band's sound allows them to focus purely on the songwriting. There is also a relatively great deal of electronic programming on the record, such as the more obvious examples like the opener "The Hollow," to more subtle cues like an electronic effect on snare hits in "The Afterman," to the electronic beat in the closer "Subtraction." The returning of old elements, and the introduction of new elements only go to prove that band can excel at stringing multiple components together to make a fresh an balanced sound.

The Afterman: Ascension is the first half of a concept album set during the Amory Wars focusing on a new character Sirius Amory. I'm not going to pretend I know anything about the storyline, and my ignorance shows how truly great the music is being able to stand on its own without an understanding of the story. The Afterman: Ascension is sure to be even stronger when paired with the unreleased second piece. As for now it's a welcomed return home to Coheed's signature sound and is sure to please fans who were disappointed in the last two records, as The Afterman: Ascension is the band's most mature record to date. Mixing the best elements of the last two records while cutting the undesirable elements allowed Coheed and Cambria to craft their best record in seven years. The Afterman: Ascension is a return to form for the band and an obvious indication that the band is finally back on the right track and will strive to build and refine on an already impressive sound and body of work.



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user ratings (754)
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3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Starblind (2)
    A rushed, sloppy, unfocused mess of an album....

    Cam McNeil (4)
    Year of the Black Rainbow will forever be known as a temporary detour in the increasingly ...

    Alex Beebe (4)
    The boys of Coheed release another ambitious installment in their series of concept albums...

    SowingSeason STAFF (3.5)
    The Afterman: Ascension marks indisputable growth for a band that up until this point seem...

  • Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF (4)
    Coheed and Cambria regroup and release the soul successor to From Fear Through The Eyes Of...

    Brent Stephenson (3.5)
    Not a true return to form, but at the very least proof that Coheed haven't run out of stea...

    Seth Barry-Hinton (4.5)
    Simultaneously a return to form and a step up....

    Alex Carlson (3.5)
    Coheed and Cambria's first half of their double album lacks a unified mood like their past...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2012


50355 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Been working really hard on this review, I'm glad it's over oh man

Stream: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/coheed-and-cambria-the-afterman-album-premiere-20121008

Digging: The Brave Little Abacus - Masked Dancers

ThroneOfAgony
October 8th 2012


3485 Comments


Album hasn't really sank in fully yet, but atm I still like GAIBS IV better though

ThroneOfAgony
October 8th 2012


3485 Comments


It's def better than YOTBR though. BTW nice review posd

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2012


50355 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I come back from class and there are already 4 reviews goddamnit


menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2012


16018 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"and seemingly lack of passion" - seeming

Havent read any of the reviews on here for this then I saw your name on this one trebor. Didnt disappoint. Pos'd.

Digging: iamthemorning - Belighted

WashboardSuds
October 8th 2012


5007 Comments


great review trebs. I'm itching to write my next one after my iffy Flylo review. the only record I've heard by this band was SSTB and I wasn't a huge fan but it was alright

Digging: Gas - Nah und Fern

Xenophanes
Emeritus
October 8th 2012


10593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

If a number is less than 10 it needs to be written out, such as "seven" in your summary, and "three to four" later on.

Either way this was a really stellar review man, you're becoming a solid reviewer. I agree with most of this, but honestly this has been growing on me the past couple of days. I can see this being a 4. It feels like the best of old and new which is super sweet.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2012


50355 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Apparently seemingly is only acceptable as an adverb, thanks for the heads up

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2012


50355 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"If a number is less than 10 it needs to be written out, such as "seven" in your summary, and "three to four" later on."

I was always told it was 13, well anyway thanks for the heads up. I write my reviews in short hand and sometimes I forget stuff like that in the revision stage

zxlkho
October 8th 2012


3463 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album rules

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2012


16018 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

fking hell Goodnight Fair Lady might as well be Thin Lizzy haha

Cygnatti
October 8th 2012


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

trebs for contributor nao!

Digging: Jon Hopkins - Immunity

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2012


16018 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

damn thats a good homage to Lynott love it, even did a half decent Robbo/Gorham

Douglas
October 8th 2012


9103 Comments


I havent read any of them but this is the best

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2012


50355 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thanks for the support, I love you all

Cygnatti
October 8th 2012


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

another one of those well known bands that I finally get the will to listen to for the first time and end up not loving. what a world.

Strider
October 8th 2012


4598 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

great review, pos!

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 8th 2012


16018 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

have only listened once, feels like a 3 atm but might grow, i'd give em 5 if they did more thin lizzy impersonations tho

paxman
October 8th 2012


4084 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Umm...it's Afterman

EverythingEvil2113
October 8th 2012


1279 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review dude, album keeps getting better with each listen.



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