This review was originally published on Under The Gun Review.
Artist: Coheed and Cambria
Album: The Afterman: Descension
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: Hundred Handed/Everything Evil
It seems strange to write an album review for Coheed and Cambria so soon after the last. Part 1 of the Afterman double album still resonates with me as new, yet the second part has come, eager for my ear.
And my ear it has had. For several weeks I’ve soaked up all The Afterman: Descension has to offer and subsequently attempted to cultivate the words to use in a review. My best will be done to refrain from gushing over you, but no promises can be made, for part 2 of this epic is greater than or equal to its predecessor in every way.
While Ascension opted for a familiar-sounding piano intro flush with eery foreboding, Descension opens with an ambient acoustic loop, periodically punched with hopeless wails and crashing percussion. It most certainly drags the listener in and prepares them for the single that follows.
Sticking to form, “Key Entity Extraction I: Sentry the Defiant” blasts the record into an anthemic epic condensed into 4 minutes. This was actually the first song we heard of the Afterman era, originally an acoustic recording presented by the band a full year ago. In its full form, it’s a contender for best rock record of the year.
Throughout the album, correspondence between the effeminate computer program, affectionately referred to as “All Mother,” and the spaceman journeying home provide some direction to the story that The Afterman tells.
For those wishing to sample this particular record or Coheed’s style, in general, they might start with “The Hard Sell.” A vicious song that showcases all of the high-points in the instrumentation of the band as well as a medley of the various vocal styles singer Claudio Sanchez has in his arsenal.
Beginning as what could be the most industrial of Coheed and Cambria’s songs on their two-disc album, turns to the most pop-driven tune they have ever written. With a horn section in tow, “Number City” is a heavy departure from the rest of the collective. A brass breakdown takes the track home and makes way for what actually is the most industrial in the track listing, “Gravity’s Union.” More of a No World For Tomorrow throwback than the rest, it shows that despite a general return to the sound cultivated in In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3, they aren’t throwing the rest out of the window. Drummer Josh Eppard shines here.
“Away We Go” is a second pop-influenced diddy of optimism, while “Iron Fist” is a slightly calmer ballad. “Dark Side of Me” gradually lifts the mood into the soaring single it is. For those who can’t get beyond the high register voice provided by Sanchez, this is a song that could have a much wider appeal. The vocals are kept in check, without the signature runs left on the shelf. The bridge makes a fantastic window into the band’s ability to sonically meld into each other. This is, without a doubt the greatest lineup the band has ever had.
Perhaps my personal favorite of the album is, coincidentally, the closer, “2’s My Favorite 1.” The chorus is extraordinarily infectious and begs the listener to put the album (or perhaps the song) on repeat. A perfect closing track, if there ever were one.
If I had to choose, The Afterman: Descension is the better of the pair. The nostalgia is there, it’s less venomous than the first part, and its structure is perfectly sound. It couples well with Ascension and satisfies as a solo record. Scoring it won’t be difficult, seeing that I gave a 10/10 in my first review. However, if it made mathematic sense, I would bestow Descension with an 11/10
Read my review of The Afterman: Ascension here.