Coheed And Cambria

Vaxis Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures

Written by: PP on 22/04/2019 22:02:44

It's Groezrock preparation time. One of the highlights of the upcoming festival season is the return of Coheed And Cambria to the festival, on the back of a new album no less, which is incidentally also a return to The Amory Wars universe. Now, I've never followed the sci-fi backstory of Coheed And Cambria that closely so there are other sources you can read more about that in plenty detail, so this review is all about how "Vaxis Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures" is like and how it compares to their past work.

For the undersigned, one of the issues with Coheed And Cambria over a multitude of albums now has been that they went basically full retard (to borrow a line from the now non-PC movie "Tropic Thunder") when it comes to progressive rock. Fans of their early work on "The Second Stage Turbine Blade" and "In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3" were puzzled already by the first Good Apollo album, and were most certainly turned off by the second Good Apollo record as Claudio Sanchez & co all but dropped emo from their soundscape and focused on full-blown progressive rock opuses instead. Ridiculously long songs and unnecessarily complex song structures followed for a good few albums and won the band acclaim and praise from an entirely different set of fans, but if you ask me, they forgot their songwriting prowess in the process. Yes, they were good albums when you inspected them in detail, but how often do you find yourself returning to "The Afterman" or even "Good Apollo" series these days?

Nine albums down, "The Unheavenly Creatures" is therefore somewhat of a relief given that it's a simplification of their sound on the past few albums into something a little more understandable for us plain folks, at least relatively speaking. The average song length still hovers around the 5:30 minute mark, but at least songs like "Unheavenly Creatures" and "Toys" opt for more memorable chorus melodies and less guitar wankery than has been the case in the past. Granted, the band did this on the album three years ago as well, so in that sense "The Unheavenly Creatures" isn't as much of a surprise as I let on, but it's nonetheless nice to note down the band are no longer fully invested in theatrical soundscapes and mammoth progressive rock opuses rather than writing songs that are a more easily accessible.

"Queen of The Dark" is one such example. It's dark, slow and progressive, and as such might not be a pick for the best song on the album, but from a songwriting perspective, it's closer to "In Keeping Secrets..." style of Coheed than it is to "The Afterman" series. We even see a welcome return to faster, debut-album resembling stuff on "True Ugly", which showcases punk undertones alongside its complex guitar melodies and a fairly catchy chorus to boot. It's also one of the heaviest songs Coheed has written in a while. "Love Protocol", on the other hand, has Claudio Sanchez singing near the high end of his range just like on the good old days, not to even mention its great chorus that should become a staple on the upcoming tour.

Things are indeed looking bright in the Coheed camp, but did the record really need to be fifteen tracks long over 1 hour and 20 minutes? At three-quarters in, my attention begins to wade onto other things which just isn't a good sign in today's ADHD world. And that's not to say that the songs aren't solid: there are few odd ones out ("Night-Time Walkers" comes to mind), but largely solid content throughout. Perhaps if the record was shorter, or had more songs that instantly glue themselves to your memory, it wouldn't have this effect. As it stands now, there are a lot of great individual tracks on the record, but as a whole, the record just feels like... a Coheed record but without any grander implications to the scene at large.


Download: Love Protocol, Unheavenly Creatures, Toys, True Ugly,
For the fans of: Three, The Mars Volta, Tides Of Man, The Dear Hunter
Listen: Facebook

Release date 05.10.2018

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