US - New York - Full Moon 111 - 10/17/05
Coheed and Cambria
Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
You'd think in all their weird timings Co & Ca would know how to count. There's a giant "IV" on the package of their latest LP (with a name to long to type) but it's their third release. If they do know how to count, this is just makes yet another bullet on the big list of things that don't immediately make sense about this band and requires way too much effort to research. However unconventional, that's a brilliant marketing strategy that provides for a trekkie-style loyalty amongst fans. These members of the myspace generation are defined along the lines of who the hell has the patience to figure all this stuff out and who stays awake at night wishing they did.
I might sound annoyed, but I can agree with any of them on one thing: the spoiled-rotten-surfeit in Coheed's post punk/alt-metal/pop-prog is the entirety of their charm. It will continue to pay off as they discover on Good Apollo... that the only way to evolve is to get bigger: more pyrotechnic metal
riffs, more theatrics, more meaningless sound effects between songs, more immensely complicated hidden plot shifts to be explained in equally confusing graphic novels instead of tasteless, over produced musical films (see the 1973 film version of Tommy).
It opens with a string quartet version of the piano theme from "The Second Stage: Turbine Blade's "Everything Evil" that is the only easily recognizable theme to tie this sci-fi series together. It bares a strange resemblance to the operatic "Wasted Time (Reprise)" that opens Side B of the Eagles' Hotel
California LP - it's a device used more effectively for this self-obsessed space opera than that measly country rock standard. It moves slowly into Coheed's most ambitious anthem, "Welcome Home" truly worthy of any football stadium, provided it"s a homecoming game. Kicking off with an acoustic medieval backdrop compliments of Jethro Tull's "My God" via "Stairway to Heaven" it possesses no ominous quality for hiding the war ahead. In the slam of a snare drum the thundering tradition of the mighty Zeppelin's desert march "Kashmir" is mixed with the deliciously bloated, fully-loaded vocality and guitar wail of Iron Maiden and unleashed before masses of disaffected obsessive alt-rock teenipopper equivalents providing a perfect environment for head-bangers
everywhere. It's the kind of song that gives all the fourteen year old girls who line up for Warped Tour tickets no reason to shit on classic rock - which might've been the aim of Claudio Sanchez and company with Good Apollo in the first place.
What's disappointing is once you get to the fade out, which features a corny audience participation sequence, you realize you've heard it all before. It's the same device from the equally anthematic title track of 2003's In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. By the time you hit the cheerleader rants of "The Suffering" stolen from "Blood Red Summer" and a chorus too easily struck from "Three Evils (Embodied in Love and Shadow)" - both from the same previous album - the flaw is obvious. Yes, the crime of Good Apollo is at its worst it is a rehashed revision of In Keeping Secrets with all the same climax and release. What Apollo does stand to champion over its predecessor it is poppier, more hook driven where it evokes more from the very best guitar imagination of Sting and the Police and as loud and venomous as Cheap Trick od'ing on Ritalin. That more concentrated sound prevents imminent disaster and provides moderate satisfaction.
Deviation from that point is even more dangerous territory. The lackluster hardcore take on J-Tull's "Thick as a Brick" on "The Willing Well II: The Eyes of Madness" passes barely only on its back-to-basics conclusion. They manage survive to "The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut" which sounds like Floyd covering "Maggot Brain" with B+ imitations of what a David Gilmour vs. Eddie Hazel guitar battle would've sounded like.
Doing the math this album is taking two steps forward and two steps back. At the same time Coheed stays in the game with their posterity still in question. That question being whether or not their epic series will be remembered as the quasi-emo Chronicles of Riddick stinker or the literate modernist punk's Star Wars. In the meantime Good Apollo keeps the jury out, still bamboozled as to which glove fits.
Copyright © 2005 M. Marion D.