Released in 2005, Claudio Sanchez, Travis Stever, Michael Todd and Josh Eppard are back for “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness”, putting in a serious challenge to Meatloaf on the length of album titles.
I call it “Good Apollo IV”.
“Keeping The Blade”/”Always And Never”
It starts off with violins and an ominous piano riff. After about 90 seconds, a piece of music which is familiar appears.
Then an acoustic guitar riff starts for “Always And Never”, while Sanchez sings a haunting vocal melody. But these tracks are a set up for what is about to come.
This is the big one, at 73.7 million streams on Spotify.
That intro. Listen to it.
Then the Kashmir like feel and riff comes in which ends up being the main riff. Listen to it.
That outro. With the Kashmir riff, the lead break and the whoa, oh chants. Listen to it.
And when the song ends, listen to it again.
“Ten Speed (of God’s Blood & Burial)”
It’s a major key rock song with a funky bass groove. Songs like these keep popping up on their albums and most reviewers call em EMO songs, which never made sense to me. They are just great rock songs.
“Crossing the Frame”
It continues the major key pop rock vibe of “Ten Speed”.
“Apollo I: The Writing Writer”
After some synths, the riff which kicks off the song is excellent, based on palm muted arpeggios and single notes, with a progressive bass groove.
And the major key Chorus, so catchy and poppy.
The song moves between these progressive verses and poppy choruses, never losing my interest.
“Once Upon Your Dead Body”
The song continues some of those major key pop vibes from earlier songs.
At 12.2 million streams on Spotify, the song is another star from the album.
It’s a ballad, but with no cliches. And seriously the hook is around the words “Kill anyone for you“.
Take that, pop singles with 15 writers.
“The Suffering” is the next high point after “Welcome Home” and at 22 million Spotify streams, it’s also one of the big songs from the album.
The most catchiest, especially the vocal line, “listen well, will you marry me and are you well in the suffering” which sounds like the hook from Three Evils’s, “pull the trigger and the nightmare stops“.
And we like it.
“The Lying Lies & Dirty Secrets of Miss Erica Court”
Nothing really connected with me on this one.
“Mother May I”
It’s probably the best Police song written in the 2000’s, that Sting, Copeland and Summers didn’t write.
The final 4 songs are part of a suite called “The Willing Well”.
“The Willing Well I: Fuel for the Feeding End”
Not one of their best.
“The Willing Well II: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness”
At the 3.15 mark there is this section with whoa oh oh backing vocals that reminds me of Maiden. Musically it’s got all these other little Maiden sections.
“The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth”
The guitar and bass both play unique progressions and it works so good together, all held tight by the unorthodox drumming of Josh Eppard.
“The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut”
“The Final Cut” closes it nicely, more slower, doomy even. There’s a church organ in the background and the guitars sound like they came from the 70s.
And that wah drenched solo needs to be heard. After it goes into a Gilmour like clean tone solo, which again needs to be heard.
Vocally Sanchez is in the zone.
Press repeat on this one as well.
And now for the story, if you’re interested. Plot spoiler warning.
It takes place in the real world of “The Writer”, the person writing the story and it mixes up the reality of The Writer with the fictional story and I’m not a fan of stories that are written like this.
But in the process of the two stories being told, the sci-fi story progresses as the mental health of The Writer regresses. And I will do my best to summarise what it’s all about.
So from the story point of view, Claudio works out that the Keywork is powered by the energy of enslaved souls who want to be set free, and the only way to free them is by destroying Heaven’s Fence.
From The Writer’s point of view, he wants to do bad things to his cheating ex, Erica Court and his mental health deteriorates even further.
Back to the story, a rebel strike team has disabled a generator on a planet, which allows a rebel spaceship to land.
Claudio realises he’s “The Crowing” which is sort of like “The Chosen One” to bring peace to the galaxy.
But the bad guys in the story, Wilhelm (aka The Emperor) and his General (aka Darth Vader) have a trap waiting.
Back to The Writer, he has become like Caligula, and is now talking to his bike called “Ten Speed” (Caligula spoke to his horse and made the horse a Senator). Ten Speed tells the Writer not to murder his ex, but to exact his vengeance metaphorically by killing Ambellina, who represents Erica’s good side in the story, and is the love interest for Claudio, which will in turn cause Claudio to accept his destiny as the Crowing and destroy the Keywork.
Back to the story, Claudio and Ambellina arrive at a meeting place, the Willing Well, in which they can see the Writer’s argument with Ten Speed take place.
The Writer eventually uses the Willing Well to pass into his own story. The Writer explains to Claudio he must kill Ambellina for his own peace of mind, so that the story may have an ending. Claudio refuses and The Writer (who has God like powers in his own story) kills Ambellina, and walks off into the distance with his bicycle, Ten Speed, leaving Claudio with the message “all worlds from here must burn,” implying that it is the Crowing’s duty to destroy the Keywork.
And the next album “No World For Tomorrow” is set up.
Here is the box set the two albums came in.