Coheed and Cambria
The Color Before The Sun
16th October 2015 – 300 Entertainment
04. Here To Mars
07. Young Love
08. You Got Spirit, Kid
09. The Audience
10. Peace To The Mountain
With each of their seven albums weaving an ever more intricate and adventure filled tale from their fictional cosmos, it’s easy to understand why Coheed and Cambria have been forever labeled as a concept band. Their Amory Wars series has garnered the band a legion of fans worldwide, with a unique modern take on prog rock identifiable as uniquely their.
With album eight The Color Before The Sun however, the band have deviated from their life-long story; stepping away from Heaven’s Fence and setting focus back to Earth. With frontman Claudio Sanchez experiencing personal upheaval in recent years, this is probably the most immediately personal release the band have ever put out. The question is: does this deviation work?
Originally unsure whether to release under the Coheed moniker or to go solo with the material, songwriter Claudio took the rest of the guys into producer Jay Joyce’s Tennessee studio after restructuring the tracks. From this, the band recorded each track together, live and raw which – following the themes of being naked and exposed, being stuck with writers block, and the love for both his wife and his child (after whom centrepiece track “Atlas” is named) – was entirely appropriate
This step away from their usual path means there has been a tweaking of their musical direction, but to pigeon hole Coheed and Cambria’s musical output would be to misunderstand just what they’re trying to achieve in their own unique way. They embody the purest definition of progressive rock in the fact that they actually progress. Tracks like “Island“, “Eraser” and “You Got Spirit, Kid” bring a bright yet angular approach, with Claudio’s trademark soaring vocal telling us the stories of strife, confinement and dealing with problems when you believe no-one actually gives a fuck. These feel more like classic Coheed; their emo roots back for one more outing.
Yet there is love to be found in the record too, “Here To Mars” and “Atlas” are odes to both Claudio’s wife and son respectively, and their emotionally-charged lyrics are ate the same time love songs and carefully constructed prog rock epics. The former is more the straight up love song which will become an anthem to any fan of the band. The latter is introspective panic about leaving a child to go on tour. Between these tracks comes “Ghost“: an acoustic ballad that explores a different side to the Coheed style. Its raw and delicate approach, along with its exploration of Claudio’s lower vocal range, definitely hammers the subject matter home; that fear of becoming a parent and bringing with it the ghosts of your own upbringing.
Closer “Peace To The Mountain” is a world away from what anyone would expect from Coheed and Cambria. Beatles-esque ballad is a moment of clarity and an end to a road of uncertainty. It’s whimsical track feels both child like and very complete. It’s marching band backing and charming vocal harmonies are swept along with a current of brass and strings. There really isn’t a better way to finish this album.
The Color Before The Sun is the album Coheed needed to make; its broad appeal will earn the band the mainstream love they deserve. Not only that, but they’ve broken out of the pigeon hole they found themselves in. Coheed and Cambria as an entity are limitless and this record is proof of that. Whilst the band will return to Heaven’s Fence eventually, this diversion could well be one of the best albums released this year.