Haunting and eerie, that’s how Coheed And Cambria begin the listener’s journey into ‘The Afterman: Ascension’. Part one of their double concept album, this sixth record sees their powerhouse rock mix with a sci-fi tinged tale of discovery and loss.
Even as their powerful sound takes precedence, eerie undertones constantly keep you in touch with the space-fuelled undertones of the plot. A guitar trill here, an electronic nuance there, it’s these minute dimensions that really construct the concept musically. ‘Key Entity Extraction I Domino The Destitute’ is an eight-minute voyage that never gives the listener a lull. From dramatics to more subdued moments, from echoing speech with a tinge of history to swinging riffs and sleek solos, the journey is interesting and it utilises these aforementioned nuances sparingly, but enough.
There’s a great duality to the record. Yes, it follows the tale at hand, but there’s a sense that much of it was written with a truly personal input, dealing with issues applicable out with the plot: ‘Nobody listen anymore […] Just keep running, everything will look better once you look away…’ (‘Mothers Of Men’)
’Goodnight Fair Lady’ has an essence that seems reminiscent of past Coheed quirks - there’s a bounce, a much lighter feel overlapping Claudio’s toned down vocals. ‘Key Entity Extraction II Hollywood The Cracked’ launches with a deep-rooted riff, a sinister overture of guitar bends and eerie vocals that sets the track as the darkest on offer. Barring the clean chorus, it feels extraterrestrial, regardless of knowledge of the concept.
In terms of the story, ‘The Afterman: Ascension’ works well in conveying surroundings and emotions through both musicality and lyrical content. But this feels much more than a mere tale; it’s a story tinged with personal input, actual experience and a dose of reality. Concept albums may not be for everyone, and that’s understandable, but they usually prove interesting at the very least, and this is no different.