Coheed and Cambria were back in the Amory Wars universe when they announced the 5 part Vaxis series.
This is Act 1.
Otherwise known as “Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures”, the ninth album, released on October 5, 2018.
As soon as it was announced, I was interested and Pre-Ordered the limited edition deluxe box set which includes an 80+ page hardcover, full color book with custom illustrations and complete ACT I story.
The Book also houses the CD of “The Unheavenly Creatures” as well as the exclusive BONUS CD, “The Crown Heights Demos”.
The box set also includes a replica Creature mask, a fold out poster of the cover art, the usual VIP/Black Card which allows card holders early access to tickets and early entry to Coheed and Cambria headline shows.
And the pre order also came with access to a digital site to download the album and the demos on release day.
So, the story.
Set sometime after the events of “No World for Tomorrow”, (their 2007 album, as the three subsequent albums were all prequels), the planets that formally made up Heaven’s Fence are scarred and cracked after an event known as “The Great Crash.”
A group of elites known as the Five Houses of the Star Supremacy have converted these worlds into prison planets, with one planet being called The Dark Sentencer.
The album tells the tale of two new characters, Sister Spider and Creature as they struggle with being imprisoned on The Dark Sentencer and fight to secure the safety of their unborn son, Vaxis.
At 78 minutes, it’s a monster of an album.
The album opens as usual, with a short music and spoken intro called “Prologue”. The voice over talks about “the five houses”, “the planet prisons”, and “a love story”. And the voice ends the narrative with, “It begins with them, but ends with me, their son, Vaxis.”
Then the “Domino The Destitute” inspired riff kicks off “The Dark Sentencer”. You get the big chants like a prison riot is taking place, the big rock riffs and the progressive feel of the arrangement. Like all Coheed albums, song number 2 is the epic.
The title track “Unheavenly Creatures” has a riff that sounds like it was written on the TonePad app. When the guitars come crashing in, it’s major key pop rock.
I like how Coheed always makes riffs in a major key sound heavy, like in “Toys”. If anything it could have come from the fingertips of Mark Tremonti.
The spirit of “Mother Superior” is evident on “Black Sunday”.
“Queen Of The Dark” starts off with a sad piano riff and then a digital delay strummed riff comes in before the window shattering drum groove sets the mood and tone.
“True Ugly” feels like a power pop punk song, full of melody and aggression.
“Love Protocol” has an arena rock Chorus that needs to be heard.
“The Pavilion (A Long Way Back)” has a simple palm muted arpeggio guitar riff and a drum groove that demands attention. It’s one of the best songs on the album and it was the first song written for the album.
“Night-Time Walkers” feels like a “Halloween” or “Escape From New York” soundtrack in the intro. Or a scene from “Stranger Things”. Then the crunching guitars kick in and the drumming becomes more dominant before it moves into a massive Chorus.
“The Gutter” could have come from “A Night at the Opera”. And how good are the violins in this song.
“All On Fire” feels like “No World For Tomorrow”.
“It Walks Amongst Us” has this Middle Eastern exotic soundscape to start off, before it moves into a metal like riff that is played with an 80s keyboard synth sound.
“Old Flames”, is the second last track, and it’s a massive song. You can see it in the same way that the second last episode of each season of “Game Of Thrones” was the biggie.
This feels like classic rock as a piano starts it, before the Cheap Trick like riff kicks in and a massive Arena rock Chorus.
The whole “Naa / Na na na na na-ah” feels like a Cheap Trick song. Even My Chemical Romance have sections like this. As the guitars and drums end, the piano riff starts and it’s the “Prologue” riff.
“Lucky Stars” is an acoustic number that closes the record. It’s like the aftermath. Make sure you stick around for the Clapton like lead break.
And the guys toured hard on this album and now we wait for “Act 2”, in between Claudio’s side project The Prize Fighter Inferno, named after a character in the Amory Wars story.