November 1, 2007

Record Review: Coheed and Cambria

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Music is supposed to make working out easier. Coheed and Cambria’s new album, No World for Tomorrow, however, manages to do just the opposite. While listening to it for the first time at the gym, it actually made my work out more painful. Stunned at how agonizing the music was, I gave it a second chance outside the gym. After all, not all music is meant for the elliptical.
Unfortunately, No World for Tomorrow is no more pleasant outside the gym. In fact, I can’t imagine a situation in which it might be pleasant at all. It is simply painful.
The first track, “The Reaping,” is only a little over a minute. Still, you may find yourself wishing it was even shorter. The solo guitar at the beginning is intriguingly simple and gives you false hope for the rest of the album. When Claudio Sanchez opens in his histrionic whine — “Hell must know there have been worse things I’ve done” — one begins to wonder what worse things he could possibly have done besides what he is presently doing (singing). The answer, however, is immediately clear. The thing he has done worse than singing in “The Reaping” is the rest of the album.
The track lucky enough to coin the album’s name, “No World for Tomorrow,” displays the group’s attempt to be seen as starving, artistic souls. Instead, the loud banging in the background is unyielding, never giving the listener a break. On every track, Sanchez tries too hard to convey feelings that are just not there. It is obvious that he wants so badly to sound tortured, yet determined.
Instead he comes across as fake and desperate. Imagine the most overacted performance of a play you’ve ever seen, or the worst, most overly theatrical contestant on American Idol.
Coheed and Cambria’s desire to be seen as deep, alternative artists is even evident in just the names of their songs: “Justice in Murder,” “Gravemakers and Gunslingers” and “The Suffering,” to give you an idea.
Besides the vocalists, the musicians are not necessarily untalented. Dummer Chris Pennie and guitarist Travis Stever are perfectly capable (Sanchez also plays the guitar). But every track is so overly polished from technology and Sanchez’s voice is so contrived, that it is virtually impossible to focus on this aspect of the music. The guitar solo in “Justice in Murder” is just not impressive, and the rest of the song is worse — it is excruciatingly electronic and artificial. Especially irritating is Sanchez’s attempt to make “murder” a three-syllable word: “There will be justice in mur-er-der.”
The album is as depressing and unsettling as it is demanding on the ears. The lyrics are disturbing, and not in an artistic way. They are just plain scary: “With the turn of this knife now, I will take your life.”
One can only wonder: Was it listening to his own music that made Sanchez screech, “Now it’s time, please pray for me. There will be justice in murder … Blow off sorrow, goodbye tomorrow?”