It’s a double album, released in two stages. The first part is “The Afterman” Ascension” and the second part is “The Afterman: Descension”.
It is the first Coheed and Cambria album since 2005 “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness” to feature Josh Eppard on drums, and the first to feature Zach Cooper on bass.
I purchased the deluxe version of the album.
In summary, “The Afterman’s” story takes place at the start of the saga. It follows Sirius Amory, an astromner and his All Mother spaceship as they explore a powerful energy source known as the “Keywork” which is powered by the souls of the departed, imprisoned in some form of purgartorial afterlife.
There is an AUTHORS NOTE in the book which states that “the world within the Keywork is the first stop of the two levels of the afterlife.
The first, where Sirius is at the moment, is actually more of a purgatory, though the souls are unaware that this is not necessarily their final resting place. Once the souls stop looking out only for themselves, shirking the “me, me, me” attitude that leads to regret, unfinished business and unrest, they can move to the collective consciousness, to the perfect Utopian afterlife.”
And as Sirius explores this energy source he starts to encounter the souls of these people and their stories are told in the “Key Entity Extraction” songs I to IV.
A piano riff kicks it off. You can hear the keys hit the strings.
Claudio Sanchez transposed the “The Ring In Return” melody into this. The piece is meant to express the anxiety Sirius is feeling before he heads out into the Keywork.
There is a narrative between Sirius and Mother who is the onboard AI of his spaceship, who promises to be with him all the way as he enters this mysterious energy sournce.
Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute
The intro which reminds me Dream Theater’s “Learning To Live” outro and “Wasted Years” from Iron Maiden was enough to get me to lose my shit.
Domino is one of the first lost souls Sirius encounters.
It’s a personal song about the troubles that former bassist Michael Todd was involved in, after falling in with a bad crowd and the addictions he had.
But its told in the story of a boxer named Domino, who had it all to be a champion, but fell in with the wrong crowd, throwing fights and using drugs. One day he convinced his brother Chess to help him and his gangster friends with an armoured car robbery, which went horribly wrong and Chess got shot. Domino unable to go on, took a gun to his mouth and ended it.
The digital delay riff is excellent. A beautiful and tragic song.
It takes place on Valencine, the home planet of Sirius and how his wife Mary reacts to seeing a breaking news report which states: “Controversial researcher Sirius Amory feared dead after unexplained explosion, ending privately funded endeavour to self-professed “Keywork””
Mothers Of Men
The intro riff gets me interested to pick up the guitar and learn it.
Sirius discovers that the Keywork doesn’t discriminate against positive or negative energy. It’s all energy in the end and valuable at that.
Goodnight, Fair Lady
Can there be a pop rock song about a serious subject matter like date rape?
In “Goodnight Fair Lady”, Sirius’s wife is at a bar and her drink gets spiked. She is saved by an Officer called Graves Colten. The Officer will eventually become her love interest.
Key Entity Extraction II: Holly Wood The Cracked
The second entity is a wannabe starlet, fixated on celebrity culture who would go to dangerous lengths to feel she was connected to celebrities.
All the songs on this album are from personal experiences, which have been made to fit the narrative as in this case, Claudio also had some fan stalkers during his time.
Key Entity Extraction III: Vic The Butcher
The albums most rocking song.
Vic was a tyrant Army General who did anything to get into power and did anything to stay in power. He is rage in the Keywork.
He asked a promising soldier called Sentry to kill innocents, but Sentry refused (you will get his story in the next Afterman review) and Vic ordered other soldiers to kill Sentry.
Eventually but at an older age, Vic was charged with war crimes and was due to stand trial for them, but he ended up burning the building he lived in, with both he and his wife inside and hundreds of others.
Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria the Faithful
“Evagria The Faithful” is the opposite of “Vic The Butcher”.
The Yin to the Yang.
She rescues Sirius from Vic’s tight grip. She has shed her human consciousness and transcended into the Utopia. She operates on a part of the Keywork which is in perfect harmony and oneness. She keeps the other entities away from Sirius but she can only hold them off for so long.
This was supposed to be a Prize Fighter Inferno song (a Claudio Sanchez side project which also continues the story from a character in the earlier albums).
The song deals with the thoughts of Sirius and how with his relentless need to explore the uncharted territory, he is also driving his relationship with Mary to breaking point.
And the first part of the album ends with “The Afterman: Descension” next.