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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Coheed & Cambrias Musical Madness

Published: October 28, 2005
Section: Arts, Etc.

Its official: geek is the new chic. If the over-abundance of Napoleon Dynamite paraphernalia isnt enough to convince you of this, then certainly the widening popularity of bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Coheed & Cambria will change your mind. With both bands riding high on a sudden wave of geek-culture popularity, and the sudden fame that appeared in both bands worlds, both groups have chosen the perfect time to capitalize on their recent newfound success. Yet, it is Coheed that manages to become even more innovative and ingenious on their recent release, Good Apollo Im Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness.

With Good Apollo, Coheed & Cambria expand upon the progressive-emo sound that filled their 2003 cult-classic sophomore effort, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. Still present are the lyrical themes of love, violence-fetishes, and inter-planetary adventure: yet Good Apollo takes Coheeds sound, destroys it, and rebuilds it, infusing it with more pulsing metal guitar solos, hardcore-punk drumming, emo verse-to-chorus changes, pop-punk song arrangement sensibility, all held together by frontman Claudio Sanchezs rather subdued falsetto. While many still try to classify and stereotype Coheeds sound, with comparisons between Sanchez and Rush frontman Geddy Lee and musical comparisons with contemporary pop-punk acts, Coheed & Cambria continue to make leaps and bounds in developing their distinct, intricate, and creative musical style which bridges across practically every genre in Good Apollo.

After an interesting instrumental opener and a rather unique acoustic, love-strung number entitled Always & Never, Good Apollo blasts off into the weird and ever changing world of Coheed & Cambria with Welcome Home. The song takes a turn for operatic metal as the dual guitar metal rifts are matched excellently by a string accoutrement to accompany the six-minute marathon story of a song. Welcome Home is one of the many songs that represent the ever-expanding world of Coheed: intricately composed mini-rock operas packed into a song that rivals Queens of the Stone Ages older, sprawling musical material, a lyrical lust for love, violence, and a surging emo choral accompaniment which take the ideals of that genre of music to an entirely different level.

The album takes complete tailspins from that point, moving from the hard rock track Ten Speed to the pop friendly and upbeat Crossing the Frame. Apollo I: The Writing Writer takes a quick turn into the odd musical methods of Coheed, with a minute-long, soft instrumental intro which slowly turns into a hard-churning, brooding song. Sanchez reaches moments where his vocals nearly match the high falsetto that originally highlighted the bands unique style with their 2003 breakout single A Favor House Atlantic as the song reaches its climax with the presence of every chorus. The song really takes an odd turn as a soft, devilish monologue is played behind the bands pounding instrumentals.

Wake Up, perhaps the most emo track on Good Apollo, an acoustic number complete with Sanchezs unusually high falsetto and his strange lyrical violence fetish in conjunction with love. Ill do anything for you/this story is for you/Ill do anything for you/kill anyone for you, Sanchez softly croons throughout each chorus, infusing sweet idealism for love with a bizarre twist of violence. The Suffering, the albums other single, combines pop-keyboard mastery, fist-pumping cheers, and a catchy, fast-paced chorus that pulls the entire song together.

It is the second half of the disc, rather the last four songs, each seven minutes apiece which make up The Willing Well, a mini rock opera, which show the underlying musical ideals of Coheed & Cambria. With all three Cambria albums, an over-riding theme has pulled all the songs in every album into individual concept albums, each song composing a singular part of a recurring theme. Within these four tracks, Coheed let loose all their musical wizardry, pulling out every stop in this mini rock opera gem. The two best tracks of the four (each beginning with the title The Willing Well), Fear Through the Eyes of Madness and Apollo II: Telling the Truth represent the ying-yang in the underlying sound of Coheed. Madness begins as a rather upbeat, catchy song and transforms into a brooding, metal free-for all: Truth sprawls through dark musical instrumentation as it reaches a rather captivating chorus.

Call it geeky, emo, metal, pop-punk, or just plain weird, Coheed & Cambria continue to push the boundaries of musical genius-ness and instrumental cohesiveness with Good Apollo. Coheeds sound is definitely far from the ordinary manufactured pop-rock that is consistently recycled on American radio stations, yet it is a definitive sound that has a distinctive, intensely attractive musical quality to it absent from everything else that the musical world has to offer. With Good Apollo, Coheed not only work to branch out musically, but offer up an album that truly represents their excellent musical idealism thats as listenable as any Death Cab disc.