Review Summary: he looks up grinnin like a major player in the cowboy scene
Good afternoon, I am an adult Coheed and Cambria fan here to answer your questions about how it feels to love and continue loving this beautiful dorky prog-pop masterband through the third decade their career. I have good intentions, enthusiasm of both the nostalgia and joie de vivre strains, and vaguely adequate awareness of the supporting comic book universe that somehow improves the band’s catchy vocal singing, scrumptious cheese, and big big guitars for reasons no-one will ever succeed in explaining. Any time’s a good time in the world of Coheed, and normally I’d welcome you right in. There is just one problem:
I fucking quit.
Vaxis II: A Window of The Waking Mind
takes everything questionable about Vaxis I
’s overall charming forays into stadium rock, castrates it of any semblance of grit, urgency or personality, and subjugates its once formidable trove of catchiness to an almost impressively bland slew of commercialised hard rock templates that, in conjunction with the record’s militantly
pop production, render it a gormless caricature of everything once endearing about the band. It is, as the kids say, a bum deal. Claudio Sanchez, typically the master of memorably oblique lyrics and delightfully contorted vocal hooks, is here reduced to singing however many variations of exactly the same vocal melody through the back of his nose and occasionally acquitting otherwise hookless songs with such apropos-nothing cornerstones as GAME OVER LOVE MURDER ONE
. This lyric in particular is mercilessly devoid of punctuation, and I have no idea how what the fragilistic fuck it is supposed to mean (take this with the extreme opposite of a pinch of salt from someone only too happy to condone past one-liners as ham-happy as blow off sorrow, goodbye tomorrow
). Without competition, the album’s opening 10-song run is the most punishing run of duds the Keywork has seen to date; “The Liars Club” and “Comatose” are the only salvageable cuts from this entire stretch, and this is by virtue of packing something distantly approaching a pulse.
The closing run achieves some form of pyrrhic superiority, repping mediocre prog ‘epics’ over the anaemic rock garbage preceding it. This comes in the form of: “Ladders of Supremacy”, a song that screams Vaxis I
b-side like nothing else (and, shock horror, turned out to be exactly that), “Rise, Nainasha (Cut the Cord)”, a spirited banger that does not quite follow through on its eponymous imperative but at least comes respectably close, and “Window of the Waking Mind”, which is at once the silliest thing and - okay - awesomest
thing I’ve heard in my life. It sees Coheed go full rock opera like never before, thunderous riffs, woodwind flourishes, tasteless choral bollocks and direct character address galore. Take it or leave it, it’s only thing that stands as an honest departure. It is fun, it is long, it is too little too late, and then it’s over. Oh boy, is it over for Coheed and Cambria - or is it? Pass - I doubt it’s the end of the line for endorsable Coheed albums; they’ve made strong comebacks before between turbulent tandems as Year Of The Black Rainbow
(eh) and The Afterman: Ascension
(yay!), and The Color Of The Sun
(huh?) and Vaxis I
(yuh!!). They sure give themselves a lot of opportunities for strong comebacks, almost as though TIME HAS A FUNNY WAY OF PLAYING JOKES ON YOU WHILE YOU’RE WAITING FOR WHAT YOU THINK YOU KNOW someone buy me a fucking drink.