It’s the battle of the concept albums today. Those who are strangers to the world of NYC’s prog act Coheed And Cambria might not be aware of the bands epic story that their music is based around; The Amory Wars, a sci-fi epic written by lead man Claudio Sanchez. So, being concept albums their music ties in directly with the storyline of The Amory Wars. But, of course, we want to know which album is better! Do we go down the musical or concept path? There’s plenty to bear in mind, so keep reading as we delve deeper…
These weeks battle is brought to you by Richard Heaven, fighting his corner for ‘In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth 3’ whilst top guy Mikey Brown is all about ‘Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV’ which is still quite a mouthful. Game on, chaps!
‘In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth 3’ (by Richard Heaven)
Let me take you back to the moment that Coheed ‘clicked’ with me. It’s 2006, and rumours are starting to fly in regards to Coheed’s upcoming fourth album ‘No World For Tomorrow.’ To a nerdy, classic metal loving sixteen year old all this talk of alternative worlds and concept albums in exhilarating. I head to google and download the first Coheed album I come across (yes, that album was ‘In Keeping Secrets…’). It took a while to get into. A riff here, a hook there. It wasn’t until I was on a short break with my family, chilling by the river on a campsite and listening to the albums 10 minute epic 2113 that it hit me.
I wasn’t thinking big enough. This is an album with enormous scope. Whilst the albums that followed ‘In Keeping Secrets…’ may be similarly huge in sound and style, they didn’t see Coheed – Claudio, Michael, Travis and Josh – make such a dramatic jump forward as they did between their debut and this. ‘In Keeping Secrets…’ saw them truly find their sound and identity, defining what it is to be Coheed And Cambria.
I would argue that the album itself is the darkest of the series. From Claudio’s flashbacks of killing his children to Al’s obsession with killing all the white girls, there is very little to laugh about during ‘In Keeping Secrets…’. Hell, even the singles mention dismemberment, interrogation and the last words of a suicidal man. If these are the popiest offerings from ‘In Keeping Secrets…’ then what does that suggest of the album tracks?
To conclude, I believe that ‘In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3’ is the definitive Coheed album due to the lyrical bleakness shown throughout, the maturation of the band as a creative unit and the unadulterated focus on the Amory Wars story line. Awkward second album? What awkward second album!
‘Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV’ (by Mikey Brown)
I should probably admit that Coheed And Cambria are my favourite band. Whenever I go back and listen to them I get on such an incredible binge and listen to all their albums and the Neverender boxset on repeat for a good 2 weeks at the very minimum and I won’t listen to anything else.
Many Coheed fans won’t agree, but ’Good Apollo…’ is easily their best album. The first time I heard it in full, I was a little bit confused by it all; I didn’t really understand it. As I grew older though, I learned to appreciate it more in a musical sense and when I learned that the album was all based around lead singer Claudio’s relationship troubles at the time it really became a much personal record, disguised in the story of the Amory Wars and the penultimate chapter in the tale.
The heavy hitter ’Welcome Home’ is a fan favourite and musically, is probably the darkest song on the album. However, the album is probably the darkest the band have ever written and it’s this that I love about it. The juxtaposition of the melodic guitar lines and that falsetto voice, singing lines about death and hate is really something that the younger version of myself looked over and is prominent in so many of the songs if you can take in more of what’s being offered.
’Good Apollo…’ is absolutely drenched in honesty and personal tragedy and there’s a line in there for everybody to relate to at some point. Listen at first and enjoy. Listen again and delve into the depths of Claudio’s emotions, wrapped up and disguised in a sci fi concept. It’s tragic yet oh so beautiful in equal measure.
Make sure to catch the band on their UK tour next month. Dates can be seen here.
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