COHEED AND CAMBRIA – The Unheavenly Creatures (Album Review)

Unheavenly CreaturesCOHEED AND CAMBRIA – Bio

Around ten years ago, I kept hearing the name Coheed and Cambria at comic cons and while reading an assortment of rock magazines. I always avoided checking out the band because of their name, which at the time I thought was a bit lame.  However, one day I was sat watching highlights from the Download festival on the t.v. when a live performance from said band hit the screen. My first thought was, “who is this guy with that huge bundle of hair atop his head cranking the guitar and wailing away like a banshee?” My second thought was “Holy Shit, these guys can really play.

Not only that, but front man Claudio Sanchez has a fantastic voice and the imagination to go with it. As I looked into the history of the band, it seems that the said front man is something of a comic book artist and writer. He basically set the whole of the band’s music around a single story of fantasy and sci-fi. It was a story he created in an unknown universe and the setting of the “Amory Wars“.

Here we are, nine albums into their career. The last album they released, The Color Before The Sun, saw them heading into uncharted territories, completely dropping their continuation of the story most of their fans had come to love them for.  Instead, they headed into territories new of writing individual tracks with no thematic similarity. This one is setting the band back on track, with a whole new chapter of the “Amory Wars“.

COHEED AND CAMBRIA – The Unheavenly Creatures

If the album is anything as good and beautifully created as the double sided gate fold artwork on the cover then we’re in for a treat… read on!  It all opens with the piano plonking away and a spoken word introduction into the new chapter of the story on the track “Prologue“.  The album comes in properly with “The Dark Sentencer“, a track that opens with a familiar sounding guitar tone full of intricacies and grandeur. When the vocals kick in, Sanchez‘s voice is in fine form as always, full of emotion and power. This is definately a step back into familiar territory.  This is epic and movie soundtrack-like from the start.  And those lyrics!  It amazes me how he remembers them all, but then again, he did write the story.

Coheed & Cambria
COHEED AND CAMBRIA

Album title track “Unheavenly Creatures” starts off with an 80’s electronica sound that reminds me of the t.v. show Stranger Things. When it hits its groove, it runs along with the electronics still in there throughout.  When the chorus hits, it’s just magic, as was supposed to happen. The guitar interplay between Sanchez and Travis Stever is ferocious and fits so well with what they create.

Toys” is introduced with sweet layered vocals, overlapped by a huge guitar ring, building until it hits with an awesome chunky riff that beats your ears into submission. I love the time changes and fills in this track. The chorus is strong filled with emotion and makes you want to singalong as soon as it hits.

I love the opening bass line from Zakk Cooper on “Black Sunday” – it just hits the groove and plugs away effortlessly. There’s a multitude of time changes and differentiating riffs throughout this one, definately the busiest track so far. As the track hits the 3:30 mark, it changes completely and I loved the way it headed. It just sounded so atmospheric and layered and reminded me a little of My Chemical Romance‘s “Black Parade” track.

Queen Of The Dark” sounds ominous and growls out of the speakers like a waking beast. It’s hard to say the track doesn’t really get going because in a sense it’s a small part of an entire story. In a way, the lyrics fit but sometimes the music is a bit hard to consume.

Fast and heavy is the way onward for “True Ugly“, with its punk tinged speed drumming and hand clap backing, supported by a short and melodic chorus.

Love Protocol” brings us back to gentler territory with an almost U2 style guitar riff echoing away in the background before an epic heartfelt chorus blasts away just aching for a crowd to singalong in unison.

The Pavillion (A Long Way Back)” reminds me of one of those brat pack 80’s movie soundtracks. Again, it has that U2 vibe to start but the chorus builds and builds to an epic state. The string sections throughout are a perfect fit to the electric side of the track and they meld together as one.

Again, with the Stranger Things style opening, “Night Time Walkers” is certainly anthemic and progressive rock at the same time. I just love the way this band writes songs to fit the story.  I would love to hear what they would come up with for a movie soundtrack somewhere down the line.

THE UNHEAVENLY CREATURES DELUXE BOX SET

The Gutter” picks up with a solemn edge before streaming with electronica followed by a ripping guitar and screamed vocals. It’s a great track, but starts and stops so much, while changing direction over and over, it gets a little confusing at times.

Another solemn sounding piano driven start to “All On Fire” again transcends into a crunching riff and off timed drum beat that gets the ears really listening hard to what’s going on within the confines of the track. This is surely Math Metal; it’s so good it sometimes makes my brain hurt.

It Walks Among Us” sounds at the beginning like the soundtrack to a bad 80’s horror movie, but morphs into a rocking track with vocals that spit like venom. The staccato vocals make a for a different sound to the track before the melodic and unusually sung chorus flows in.

Old flames” is the most straight ahead rock song on the record so far, full of pop sensibilities with a punchy chorus and guitar hook that’s made for radio.

Sweet acoustic guitar kicks off the final track “Lucky Stars” and the first thing that pops into my head when the vocals come into the mix is that it sounds like Simon and Garfunkel. Once the song starts proper, the cello and violins play along with the picked guitar lines. As we enter the mid section of the song, there’s a beautifully played solo that sounds so warm and thick that it just fits so well.

All in all a great album that sees the band back on track and fitting into the niche they solely occupy so snugly. This album is worth every cent and, as I said before, contains some beautiful artwork on either side of the covers.  It’s a shame more bands don’t put a package together like this. The musicianship of this band is worth the price of admission alone and the song writing is just the icing on an already tasty, sweet cake.

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