Review Summary: ok this is epic
I think "Toys" might for real be the perfect Coheed and Cambria song. Starts off with Claudio's still-improving vocals dead centre stage, floating delicately above some nice ambience (check); explodes into a riff tailormade for Guitar Hero wailing (check); works a skyscraping stadium chorus into a six-plus-minute prog extravaganza (check)! Now as much as I liked The Color Before the Sun
, Vaxis - Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures: The Prequel [UPDATED] [COLOURISED]
is the band back on their shit because they recall the advantage in being utterly ridiculous; voice acting straight out of Halo has given way to an eight-minute guitar workout before you've barely registered how awfully good the cover art is. You might be wondering at this juncture whether I actually like this music or if the whole thing is just some ridiculous exercise in irony - to this I respond that enjoying this band's music has always involved consciously repressing the parts of your brain which identify and recoil from cheesy excess, like have you even heard No World For Tomorrow
is the longest Coheed album even if it seems restrained compared to the genre-switching mayhem of the Good Apollo
albums. Actually, this is a shockingly consistent 79 minutes (lol) of music: you won't find a "Once Upon a Dead Body" here so much as a very focused set of songs, roughly occupying the mid-tempo prog-with-colossal-chorus section of Coheed's ouevre. But let's not set aside this band's capacity to switch genres at quick notice too soon. "True Ugly" recalls the grimdark post-hardcore feel of the underrated Year of the Black Rainbow
with Josh Eppard to balance the scales a little bit, "All on Fire" and "It Walks Among Us" stretch the band's slightly atrophied From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
groove muscles, and best tracks "Love Protocol" and "The Pavilion" surprisingly recall Color
's hooky indulgences qualified with stronger instrumental songwriting.
kind of succeeds on every front without being a clear frontrunner on a single one; it lacks the diversity of The Afterman
but attempts something like consistency, foregoes the rawness of The Second Stage Turbine Blade
for a little bit of maturity and focus, and so on. If you've missed the concept-heavy nerdouts of classic Coheed then this might strike you as their best output in 10 years or so. As an authority on the band myself, the standout moments here are actually the ones where the less popular ideas from Year of the Black Rainbow
onwards are reworked into a classic Coheed context, like a retrospective fleshed-out look at how those albums could have been. So yeah, Vaxis
could be a solid fifteen minutes shorter, the title track sounds like it never got past being a Casio keyboard demo and the general mixing is literally as flat and undyamic as it could possibly be – no-one's expecting perfection. But when that fucking chorus on "Love Protocol" hits？ Or "The Pavilion"'s second verse just stops pretending to be about anything else other than Claudio's declining love for touring with the band (longtime fans will be busting out the Kleenex for "you want me here, then ask me to stay")？ These are transcendent moments of music that stand with the best the band have ever given us, and it feels like eighteen years of history, story and fanbase community are coming together like, uh, some sort of keywork.