“Jessie’s Girl 2” was released as a standalone single on August 21, 2020 by Coheed and Cambria featuring Rick Springfield.
The original “Jessie’s Girl,” tells the story about jealousy and the song went huge in 1981, turning Springfield into a superstar. And the song is still played today, generating a nice income stream for Springfield or for the Corporation who holds his Copyrights.
Like all hits, it felt that someone should write a sequel.
Enter Coheed And Cambria.
Coheed and Cambria have this power pop rock vibe in their music. So back in 2019, the band was jamming on a riff, when Sanchez sang the melody from “Jessie’s Girl”.
Claude Sanchez said in the press release;
“Has anyone ever written a sequel to another artist’s song?
I don’t think so.
As a fan of movies, it just seemed like a really interesting idea… It’s kind of like a “National Lampoon’s” movie meets “So I Married an Axe Murderer”.
And this also triggered an idea to do a sequel to a famous song, and a grander idea to do an album called “Sequels”. They reached out to Springfield and he was keen to be involved.
This song is from the perspective from “Jessie’s Girl” narrator and things just didn’t turn out the best for him.
While he did get the girl, he regrets it. The girl is out of her mind, has a sinister side as she stalks him and wants to kill him for leaving him, has dirty habits and he regrets burning a friendship to get her.
As I was doing my Super Deluxe pre-order for the new album, I saw the 7 inch vinyl single, so I added it to the cart.
Oh, so I changed my number To 867-5305 That didn’t, that didn’t, that didn’t stop her She wouldn’t let me leave her house alive She’s out of, she’s out of, she’s out of her mind
The first copy I gave to the drummer from a band I was in, along with “The Dirt” hardcover book and the “Rush In Rio” DVD. But when we had an argument, he wouldn’t return the items. So I repurchased “The Dirt” but this time in paperback, and this DVD. The Rush DVD price was extravagant when I was looking for it and I haven’t relooked since.
Now, live albums have been known to have a lot of studio overdubs or in some cases, total re-recording of some of the tracks in the studio. From what I can hear, nothing feels fixed or redone in a studio on this. So what you get, is a band that can deliver live, the chaos they create in the studio. If anything, I believe the guitars are tuned down ½ a step as Claudio’s voice was strained during this period. But man, he still delivers.
Coming into this release, Coheed and Cambria had released three studio albums, in “The Second Stage Turbine Blade”, “In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth” and “Good Apollo”. For the hardcore Coheed fans, yes, I’ve abbreviated the names of the album titles.
It’s the only live release with the original line up of Claudio Sanchez on vocals/guitars, Travis Stever on guitar and backing vocals, Michael Todd on bass and backing vocals and Josh Eppard on drums and backing vocals. Michael Petrak does additional percussion and Dave “Wavis” Parker is performing keyboards, backing vocals, some extra guitar and samples.
In a perfect world, the audio of this concert would be available on Spotify, but it isn’t. YouTube has the live concert footage and some of the YouTube users have created just the audio.
“In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3”
A perfect opener. It’s just a bit faster than the studio recording, but hey, that’s why I love the live show. And the crowd gets involved with the who-oh-oh chant towards the end.
“Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)”
This version is electrifying. Again, a bit sped up than the studio, but I feel the energy smack me in the face.
“Blood Red Summer”
It follows the poppy rock vibes of “Ten Speed” perfectly.
This version is a metal beast and this live version is my go to track for it. As mentioned previously, its downtuned a little bit more from the studio cut and it sounds menacing.
After the two pop rock songs in “Ten Speed” and “Blood Red Summer” the placement of this is perfect to get the live concert back into progressive and metal like territory.
One of the best ballads from Coheed and Cambria, and live, you just hear the clean tone electric guitar, Claudio’s voice and the crowd singling along with him. It’s chilling, emotive and perfect.
From the debut album, the intensity of the song grabs my attention quickly. Hearing it played alongside songs from two of my favourite albums, works perfectly. The middle subdued section offers a calm before the song picks up again. With so much musical movements, nothing is lost and missed.
“A Favor House Atlantic”
It’s faster. When I watched the band live, this song is sing-a-long. You can’t make out the audiences here and you sort of lose the power of when Claudio drops out and the crowd sings. But the energy is still there. “Bye, bye, beautiful” alright.
The pop punk energy comes through. I wanted a bigger impact for the “wishing well, will you marry me” part but not all songs can be winners.
I don’t think this song worked well live.
The best cut and I like the sped up vibe of the song. And even though its quicker, the intensity of the vocals is still there. I would have loved to be able to hear the crowd cheering the who-oh-oh at the end.
“The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut”
At 14 minutes long, its eight minutes longer than the CD version and the jam aspect vibe they bring to this track is brilliant.
When there jamming the middle section lead break, they play this lead break that I swear comes from “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son” lead break.
And when they come out of the jam back into the normal song, its powerful and beautiful. The crash cymbals are smashing, the guitars are screaming and all hell is breaking loose as they finish off the concert.
In the end, “The Last Supper” leaves you wanting more of the Coheed and Cambria supper.
I was waiting for my CD to come in before I did this post.
The debut album was released in 2002, but the story goes back to 1995 when Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever had a band called “Toxic Parents” which then became “Beautiful Loser”.
Three months later, Stever left and the remaining members renamed the band, “Shabutie”.
Michael Todd was recruited in 1996 and would remain the bassist until his arrest for break and enter circa 2010/11.
As Shabütie, the band released their first studio demo “Plan to Take Over the World” in 1999 and “The Penelope EP” in 1999, shortly after which Stever rejoined the band.
The original drummer left in 1999 and Josh Eppard was the replacement. He would be the drummer on the first three Coheed albums and while he was out of the band between 2006 and 2011 he returned for “The Afterman” albums and is still the drummer at this point in time.
The band went on to release another EP called “Delirium Trigger” in 2000 and several songs that appeared on it, were based on a series of science fiction comics written by Claudio Sanchez called “The Bag.On.Line Adventures”, which were later renamed “The Amory Wars”.
This science fiction story was Sanchez’s side project. Eventually, the band would rename themselves as Coheed and Cambria, after two of the story’s protagonists.
In a nutshell, and spoiler alert, Coheed and Cambria are dead by the end of it. Coheed by now had already killed off his children except Claudio and Cambria had to kill Coheed as he unleashed a virus and then unable to live without Coheed, she killed herself. In the process her energy/sacrifice then saved the dying star that Coheed was trying to destroy. Their son Claudio, is left to pick up the pieces.
A lot of pieces of the puzzle are put into place, and backstory’s are told. The fan wiki page does a great job detailing it.
“Second Stage Turbine Blade”
It’s a minute of ambient noise and an ominous sombre piano riff.
The feel of this song in the first minute feels like a Pink Floyd/U2 jam mash up. It is raw and gritty as it grooves its way to the exploding of distorted guitars at the 1.14 mark.
“Devil In Jersey City”
It’s got that pop punk feel, almost happy like but the subject matter is disturbing involving a bashing and a rape by the gang called “Jersey City Devils” on the daughter of Coheed and Cambria and her partner.
This moves into “Everything Evil,” which is arguably the most proggy track on the album. The ending of the song has that piano riff which becomes the first song on subsequent albums
The heaviest song on the album.
“Hearshot Kid Disaster”
It has a funky riff.
A pop song which is 3.30 long. Coincidence.
“Junesong Provision” Heavy guitar and impressive vocals and lyrics make up this noteworthy song.
The bass is excellent and the riffs are rooted in hard rock. Claudio’s vocals are the most confident on this one and it shows.
“God Send Conspirator” A clean guitar riff starts the song off, which sounds like an indie song. The bass grooves and funks it’s way throughout.
When I did the previous record vault post for “No World For Tomorrow” I did mention that I didn’t have the CD anymore. So I went searching at the usual local sellers but found one on eBay.
How good is the artwork by Ken Kelly, who also created the artwork for “Love Gun” and “Destroyer” by Kiss.
Here is the Holiday 2007, Guitar World issue and article that got me to commit and check out the music of Coheed and Cambria.
Coming into the “No World For Tomorrow” recording cycle, the band was down to two with drummer Josh Eppard and bassist Michael Todd exiting due to the familiar story of drugs and dysfunctionality within rock and roll bands. Claudio Sanchez and Travis Steer remained. And for the first time, they really collaborated together.
With an uncertain future, the manager of Sanchez put him into contact with two songwriters in Sam Hollander and Dave Katz, and together they came up with a pair of songs for Hollywood. The songs “Running Free” and “The Road And The Damned” were written for the soundtracks of “Transformers” and “Ghost Rider”. But they didn’t get picked. Instead they provided the spark for the album.
“The Running Free” is described as “uplifting with its U2-esque chorus” and it even became the albums leadoff single. Sanchez further mentions that “even though this is a dark album and all hell is about to break loose, there is still hope. At the other side of the tunnel there is a light. And I feel “Running Free” expresses that.”
So Sanchez and Steer decided to keep the band alive. Rick Rubin had just joined Sony/Columbia and he became the album’s A&R supervisor, like how John Kalodner was listed as the same on so many albums in the 80’s and early 90’s.
The band had their previous albums produced by Chris Bittner and Michael Birnbaum, however that relationship turned sour, so Rubin hooked em up with Nick Raskulinecz. Since Raskulinecz worked with Foo Fighters, he brought in Taylor Hawkins to drum. Meanwhile bassist Michael Todd came back into the fold, clean and sober, however he would depart again a few years later after he was arrested for break and enter. The song “Domino The Destitute” from “The Afterman” releases is about Michael Todd.
After the album was done, Chris Pennie from “Dillinger Escape Plan” joined as the permanent drummer. He kept this role for the next album, “Year Of The Black Rainbow” and then was replaced by Eppard, who returned for “The Afterman” releases and he’s been there since.
The guitar riff in “Mother Superior” is now known as the guitar riff, but it was written on a synth/piano first. The whole song was synth heavy until Raskulinecz advised them to make the rhythm guitar progression the main focus. This is what Sanchez said about it, “I wrote the song on synthesizer, but on the finished version, the synth doesn’t show its face until halfway through the second verse. It emulates a Mellotron and has a “Strawberry Fields Forever” vibe. This was one of those songs where I wanted to take it from a different perspective and see how a keyboard could ultimately dictate what I would play on the guitar. So on the finished track, the guitar jumps around, just like the original keyboard part did.
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.
In 2008, Coheed and Cambria did a run of live shows called “Neverender”.
“Neverender” was basically a four-night concert series. It took place in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and London, and consisted of one of the band’s four studio albums (at that time) being played in full each night.
On the first night, they played “The Second Stage Turbine Blade”. On the second night, they played “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3”. On the third night, they played “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness” and on the fourth night they played “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World For Tomorrow”.
Each night also had a different encore made up of some songs from the other albums and different medleys that involved an excellent cover of “The Trooper” from Iron Maiden.
In 2009, they released “Neverender: Children of the Fence Edition” a live CD/DVD box set. It contains five DVDs and four CDs featuring live footage of the concert from each night. In addition, a fifth disc features a documentary of the concert series. As far as I’m aware only 15,000 copies of these exist worldwide.
The version that I have is just two DVD’s.
This live release sits between “No World For Tomorrow” released in 2007 and “Year Of The Black Rainbow” released in 2010.
The live version of “Mother Superior” on this is excellent. They captured magic in a bottle here.
They way it starts off with the piano backing track and then Claudio comes in with the riff and it’s just him taking centre stage. Then as he sings the Chorus, the haunting backing vocals come in and then the band.
And the “Neverender” concept is still alive, with the band doing a run of shows to celebrate the anniversary of the albums in question.
For example, in 2011, they did a tour called “Neverender SSTB (2011)” to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album, “The Second Stage Turbine Blade”. And the concept has kept going every two years in 2013, 2015, 2017 and this year, they are doing a “S.S. Neverender Cruise” show.
The album came out in 2015 and it’s the only non-conceptual album the band has released and easily there most accessible. Then again, with each release their old emo hard-core and metal roots got less and less as some prog rock influences came in and then classic rock.
I got the limited edition, deluxe box set which includes two CDs, the album and a disc of demo tracks, plus two hardcover books, one featuring album lyrics and artwork and another featuring a “behind-the-scenes look” of the album’s creative process, plus an in-studio DVD, and a clear 7-inch record of unreleased demo tracks.
I also got a custom house key, a lapel pin, a certificate of authenticity; as well as exclusive, members-only access to new music, videos, concert tickets, merchandise and commentary from the band to a special website that requires a log in and all that.
The acoustic single note riff to kick off “Island” is addictive. It reminds me of Rush and “The Spirit Of Radio”(not because the riffs sound the same, but because of its feel) and then a riff which reminds me of “Jessie’s Girl” kicks in with the same single note riff in distorted played over it. It’s upbeat and poppy, but lyrically the song deals with doubt and about “getting off the island”, in which this case the island is a metaphor for the comfort zone of our lives or the war we have within our head about starting something new or staying with the old.
I live inside this head, and I’m at war Hero and villain, Same type, keeping score
It has a groovy bass played in the verses and drums which dominate.
Oh Middle age, bring me a crisis What am I worth, does the truth hurt?
Yes what are we worth and what are our lives worth. There’s nothing like age to get you reassessing and re-evaluating. In this case, Claudio wants the clocks to be turned back to the way things were.
I’ve been nostalgic recently, maybe because I am watching “Sopranos”, but when I think to turning the clocks back to the past, it might sound exciting, but I don’t want to live in a world with a few channels, no internet or slow dial up internet and listening to music based on purchases instead of leasing.
I lost myself along the way Restless nights mixed with purposeless days Counting forward, taking steps To a better man, the one you can live with
The song deals with changes like selling a house, moving to a new house and spending time away from family. And until you get settled again, it takes weeks maybe months before you make sense of it all.
“Here To Mars”
It’s in the stars And you’re my everything from here to Mars
A very upbeat love song from Claudio to his wife Chondra, like “Blood Red Summer” upbeat.
Make sure you check out the interlude section from 2.18 to 3.02 as it builds up into the Chorus again as Claudio sings, “I will never let you go”.
The acoustic guitar riff keeps repeating like a metronomic grandfather clock. The song is simple, as Claudio’s vocal harmonies carry the song.
That you’re the weight of his anchor, The love that is guiding him home,
Written for Claudio and Chondra’s son, Atlas.
The song is an apology to The Big Beige, Claudio’s old house in New York. And for those fans who always wondered why the demo releases are called the “Big Beige” versions, well it’s because he did them at home.
I like the repeating guitar lick.
“We leave for the coast/In the wrong hands/You where bruised, disposed”
I like the ending, as at it transitions into “You Got Spirit, Kid”.
“You Got Spirit, Kid”
It’s the first single released for “The Color Before The Sun”.
The plastic king of castle polyethylene Go on, time to be a good little pig
‘Cause when the rug gets pulled out from underneath Just embrace the fall Oh you got spirit, kid You’re number one Go on living that farce Cause nobody gives a f… who you are
Manufactured pop stars don’t have a long shelf life which is a shame, because there is talent there, but it’s never given a chance to be its own beast as others control it. And when it all goes bad, the people who control just move on to the next wannabe. In other words, you will come to a point in life when you realise that the problems you see as big aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things.
There is a nice little Pink Floyd jam at the end which makes an amazing segue into “The Audience”.
This song became a favourite instantly with its Tool like groove. Just listen to the music in the verses. The guitars play an intricate riff, the bass syncs up with the bass drum while the drums free style and still keep a beat.
This is my audience Forever one together Burning Stars Cut from the same disease Ever longing, what and who we are
The fans of Coheed and Cambria have expectations as to how the band should sound, the industries who make money from Coheed and Cambria have expectations as to how the band should sound and the band members themselves as they grow older have evolving wants as to how they should sound. Sometimes they don’t align and sometimes they do.
“Peace To The Mountain”
It’s a simple acoustic, drum and vocal song.
I learned to keep quiet, How to keep my distance. Afraid to let strangers in, How to keep my secrets.
I see this as Claudio hiding behind the characters and the Sci-Fi world he created because he was scared to express his own feelings in his songs. But he’s now older and wiser and at peace with who he is.
So if you were scared to check out Coheed and Cambria before, because of the Armory Wars saga, check out this album.
The deluxe version of the album was released with a coffee-table book co-written by band member Claudio Sanchez and writer Peter David, giving a song-by-song experience of the concept album. The album follows the Amory Wars storyline, and concentrates on the character Sirius Amory.
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.
“WHO WILL REPAIR THIS HEART?” is the repeating lyric, as this song is the set up for the next one.
In the book, Claudio explains that the musical ideas came from him jamming with a lot of new gadgets that he picked up on the road.
And he stuck with the lyric because it represents loss and pain.
From a story point of view, a weakened Sirius is being protected by the energy of Evagria The Faithful, from the other entities. But Vic The Butcher, Domino The Destitute and Holy Wood The Cracked are bombarding Evagria, trying to get to Sirius, so they could possess his body and leave this place.
“Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant”
A sombre acoustic guitar starts off with a droning open string and a high melody.
Then the song explodes into the riff and the whole band is in.
If you remember from the “Ascension” review, there is a character called Vic The Butcher, who wanted Sentry to kill innocents on his behalf, but when Sentry refused, Vic The Butcher organised others to kill Sentry by hanging, making it look like a suicide to Sentry’s family.
And now both their souls are trapped in the purgatory stage of the Keywork.
The feel of the song reminds me of “No World For Tomorrow”.
Sentry is the last entity that Sirius will encounter.
Evagria explained to Sirius that he had been in the Keywork for 547 days even though to Sirius it was no more than a week. Just think of the movie “Interstellar”.
For Sirius, it was time to go home, only if he could find a way. As the All Mother told him, his chance of survival to return was 30%.
And I saw Sentry as a pseudonym for “Claudio The Defiant” as the music and lyrics came after Claudio had an argument with his manager because the Manager requested that Claudio try and write more accessible music, which Claudio already thought he was. This was his response.
“The Hard Sell”
“You’re selling out to be in!” is the main hook on this song.
In “The Afterman” book, Claudio mentions how this song comes from a personal viewpoint about his struggles with record labels and managers who want him to write more accessible lyrics.
No one starts writing songs for em to become a hit. There is a need inside a person to create.
Sirius has now returned to Heavens Fence and is being questioned about what he saw and what happened. But he doesn’t tell the whole truth, scared as to the consequences that could come if everyone knows that an “afterlife” exists.
And his wife Meri has moved on with her life. She is in a relationship with the Police Officer who saved her at the bar in “Goodnight, Fair Lady” when her drink was spiked.
This is a different Coheed and Cambria with a groovy, funky, fuzzed out bass riff, taking control of the song. It’s almost disco rock and I like it.
And in the story there is a car accident with Sirius and Meri in which Meri is unconscious and taken to ICU.
It’s the longest song on the album and it’s the moods that hook me.
And from the 5 minute mark to the end, it’s desk breaking stuff, with all the layered guitars, the emotive drumming, locked in bass and those infectious vocal melodies from Claudio.
It goes back to before the accident. Sirius and Meri are arguing in the car when it crashes.
And the song ends with a heart monitor beeping.
“Away We Go”
It reminds me of “Feathers” from “No World For Tomorrow”. It has a synth lick to kick it off which is memorable.
This song deals with Meri and her transition into the afterlife.
This is Sirius dealing with the loss of Meri and how he ruins a lot of things.
And you don’t think that a song called “Iron Fist” would be an acoustic ballad, feeling like it’s recorded in the heartland of the country.
The lead from Travis Steer. Its bluesy and full of soul.
“Dark Side Of Me”
As soon as the drums start and the finger picked guitar intro kicks in, I am hooked.
There are bits and pieces from “Here We Are Juggernaut” in the Chorus and the build-up of “Mother Superior”.
It deals with Sirius facing Meri new partner who was also going to be a father. But Sirius ruined it all.
“2’s My Favourite 1”
This one also reminds me of “Feathers” from “No World For Tomorrow”.
Sirius makes the decision to go back to the Keywork and find Meri, to help her transition into the afterlife.
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.
Coheed and Cambria had released four albums that covered the story of Coheed and Cambria and their son Claudio against the villain Wilhelm Ryan. On “Year Of The Black Rainbow” you get to hear and read how Wilhelm Ryan became the villain.
This is from the book blurb that came with the deluxe edition, which I tried to get but it sold out so quick.
Welcome to the worlds of Heaven’s Fence, where a lattice of mysterious energy known as “the Keywork” binds and sustains life on a triangular network of planets–from the bleak and hellish Howling Earth to the spare beauty of Bendelesh.
Beneath the Keywork’s glow, under the governance of the twelve grey-skinned Mages and the watchful gaze of the winged Prise, humanity goes about it’s daily life unaffected by the goings-on of the higher powers at work in the universe.
Until the day when the ambitious Wilhelm Ryan, newest member to the brotherhood of Mages, acts on his growing discontent at being branded another ordinary Mage, ruling over one lowly Sector.
Shrewd and silver-tongued, Ryan launches the Mage Wars: a devastating campaign to win control of the entire Fence and take on the legendary mantle of Supreme Tri-Mage, a position likened to God himself.
Dr Leonard Hohenberger, the Fence’s top scientist is summoned by the Prise to stop Ryan. His creations, Coheed and Cambria, are thus born and lead the battle to save Heaven’s Fence.
Released in 2010.
This is the first and only album to feature Chris Pennie on drums and the last to feature Michael Todd on bass, after he was arrested on charges of armed robbery. Claudio Sanchez as usual is on lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards and synthesisers, while Travis Stever does lead guitar and lap steel guitars.
Other songs to come out of this period is a cover of the ZZ Top song, “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers”, for the tribute album “A Tribute from Friends” and a new song “Deranged”, which was released on the soundtrack for the video game “Batman: Arkham City” on October 18, 2011.
It’s a one minute, soft piano piece, with ambient and creepy noises as you hear the creaking noise of the piano keys when they are pressed down.
The verses are technical and the Chorus rocks. The breakdown in the middle is as powerful as the band had gotten and the blah blah vocal chant after the Chorus is unsettling but it works.
“Guns of Summer”
This song divided the fans. Drummer Chris Pennie really shines on this. The whole Intro is like a drum solo with vocal melodies and electronica.
It showcases how technical the band can be. The verses are progressive (I saw a comment once that called the verses mind-bending) and the chorus soars.
“Here We Are Juggernaut”
Dark and heavy and progressive metal like.
Listen to the fuzzed out bass in the verses and the addictive vocal melody in the Chorus.
Also the “bodies breaking” vocal melody in the verses always gets me to pay attention.
A dreamy electronica influenced ballad. It reminds me of My Chemical Romance and Smashing Pumpkins.
Check out the repeating guitar lick in the Chorus. Simple and effective.
And also check out the fuzzed out lead break from Travis Steer. Neil Young would be proud.
“This Shattered Symphony”
Typical Coheed song which moves between pop rock like riffs and melodies and then switches to those art rock and Metal kind of riffs with frantic vocal melodies.
“World of Lines”
If you like rock music you should be able to get into this song. I was hooked from the intro. And the chorus is one of their best.
“Made Out of Nothing (All That I Am)”
Would not be out of place on “No Word For Tomorrow”. It’s a beautiful mix of pop and hard rock.
“Pearl of the Stars”
Chris Pennie brings some unusual percussion to this song and the guitar work is haunting, yet beautiful. Claudio moves between low pitched vocals to his normal pitch at the right times.
“In the Flame of Error”
Drummer Chris Pennie shines on this track as well. It’s heavy and dark. Check out the riff in the verse.
“When Skeletons Live”
This song is, plain and simple, awesome. From the keyboard led intro, to the brilliant chorus, this is one of my favourite Coheed songs of all time.
“The Black Rainbow”
A cacophony of noise rock, progressive rock and alternative metal. Make sure you check out the outro when Claudio is singing “It’s over” and there’s a fuzzed out decaying lead by Travis Steer with emotive drumming.
For the hardcore fans, the Deluxe edition bonus tracks are “Chamberlain”, “The Lost Shepherd” and the iTunes edition bonus track is “Hush”.
You’ll need to go to YouTube to check them out. The Chorus of “The Lost Shepherd” is worth your time to invest.
The DVD is pretty cool as it shows how the new tools and effects brought in my the producers allowed the guys to be more creative and to express themselves.