October 6, 2005

Coheed and Cambria: Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Vol. 1

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Coheed and Cambria first hit the music scene big in 2001 and has been rocking out to the wild and far-fetched ever since. The Nyack, NY group has always had issues with genre classification and their latest release, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness only adds to the confusion.

As if the 65-character album title wasn’t enough, “Keeping the Blade,” an eerily stirring symphonic track layering introductions from two past releases opens the album and sets the mood for something dramatic. However, the ensuing track, “Always and Never,” is an unexpectedly mellow acoustic song with morbidly emo lyrics and synthesizers that have evolved as a trademark of prog-emo.

The first single released for radio play from the album, “Welcome Home,” sounds like it could have been written by Metallica (at least instrumentally). Other tracks have obvious influences from the likes of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Smashing Pumpkins. The album continues with several tracks featuring Coheed’s trademark mix of feral guitar solos, shrill vocals, winded palm-muted rhythms and distraught storyline.

Then comes the next part of the Coheed saga, a four-track continuation of the story behind the fictitious Coheed and Cambria, entitled “The Willing Well.” With each track in “The Willing Well” running over seven minutes, the last four songs comprise nearly half of the total CD. The mix of bluesy pop, digital voice alterations, ’80s metal solos and dangerously emo shrieks come together in a smooth arrangement and help establish each song as a unique masterpiece in its own right.

The force behind the emo lyrics and whiny vocals is Claudio Sanchez, a “sensitive big guy” with a flair for the eclectic. Sanchez, who claims to have no real religion, basically reinvented the story of Adam and Eve in his parallel epic of Coheed and Cambria, an extraterrestrial couple that are forced to sacrifice their children in order to save the universe. However, as of now, only Sanchez knows how the story truly begins and ends. The epic unfolds over the course of several CDs, with the ending in Good Apollo and the concluding prequel coming up in the band’s next release.

Coheed has made its way into mainstream music (Good Apollo was released under the Sony label); however, it still maintains a lot of indie flavor, especially in the last couple of tracks. Apart from a longer album title and an unconventional introduction, Good Apollo isn’t a huge change to the average Coheed listener. The middle of the album at first may seem a bit filling and repetitive. Yet, after listening to it through a few times and catching all of the little “headphone details,” one begins to find such a claim almost absurd.

As their third major release to date, Good Apollo definitely draws upon the value and quality of previous releases. Unlike the disjointed plotline and sci-fi gospel, which Sanchez touts, the album classifies a progressive achievement in the group’s anachronistic legacy of classic rock in an emo shell.

Archived article by Aniq Rahman
Sun Contributor