If you know me, you probably know that Coheed are my favorite band. If you don’t know, they are releasing a new album entitled ‘The Afterman: Ascension’ on October 9th, which is the first of a double album with the second to be released in February sometime. First off, how awesome is that? Two albums in 5 months? So excited. Anyway, this announcement made me go back and listen to their back catalog a lot.
While I appreciated In Keeping Secrets and Good Apollo I the way I always had, I found myself listening to Year of the Black Rainbow more than I had previously. To be completely honest, I was disappointed with Year of the Black Rainbow initially. i felt like the production was muddy sounding, and the album just didn’t have the epic parts i had always expected to hear from Coheed. Where was something as epic as Welcome Home? Where was something as heavy as No World For Tomorrow? Where was the long progged out songs like The Light and the Glass and 21:13? But I think that’s what my problem was. I couldn’t look at this record without looking at the previous works.
Now, two years after the album has come out, it finally clicks with me. This a great record, honestly. The record isn’t as easily accessible as No World For Tomorrow, which might be a good thing this time around. As much as I love that record, it got a little cheesy at times (See Justice In Murder). This is a more mature sounding Coheed, and while it was in a more compact package (the only song over the 6 minute mark was the title track closer, which is more or less just noise a lot of the time) the great songwriting is still here.
The Broken, Here We Are Juggernaut, World of Lines, and This Shattered Symphony Have some of the best choruses the band has ever written. The technicality of songs like In the Flame of Error and When Skeletons are takes a couple listens to truly appreciate, but they are truly great songs. The ballads on this album are probably some of the best the band have written also. Far and Pearl of the Stars are both absolutely great songs. Although I love the electronic feel of Far, I feel like Pearl of the Stars would have benefited more from a more organic recording.
Which brings me to the one true complaint I have about this album; the production. Atticus Ross was one of the guys on the production team for the record, who is the producer responsible for a lot of Nine Inch Nails work, which gives the record a slight industrial feel. That makes some of the instruments muddle together without being able to differentiate between different parts. I feel like this doesn’t favor Coheed, who have always had more complex guitar, bass and drum parts than most people gave them credit for. I honestly think that if the record was produced from a more organic perspective instead of the electronic elements that the record has, it could be my 2nd or 3rd favorite record by them. As it stands, this is still probably my 4th or 5th favorite (I’m not as crazy about Second Stage as most people are - sue me) record that they’ve done, but Coheed’s worst record is still better than the vast majority of music out there.
I’m really excited for Coheed’s return to the production team of the first 3 albums, and the return of Josh, their original drummer. Don’t get me wrong, Chris Pennie was great, but his technical play and overplaying (Guns of Summer) didn’t fit the band sometimes. Overall, I would be willing to bet good money that ‘The Afterman: Ascension’ will be a better record than ‘Year of the Black Rainbow’, but the album makes a little more sense to me now.