COHEED AND CAMBRIA & ME

Pictured above: Travis Stever, Zach Cooper, Claudio Sanchez, Josh Eppard
Source: Billboard

When I started this blog last month, I said I’d be dedicating a whole post to my favorite band, Coheed and Cambria, but only after seeing their show. Not that I had never seen them, it was my third time, but I thought it’d bring another dimension than to just babble about what it is they do (which I’m still doing after all… you’ll see).

I know for a fact – and that makes me immensely sad – that they’re not that popular around here. When they come to Montreal, they play in rather small venues, especially compared to anywhere else, and I don’t even think it was sold out. It worries me a whole lot, actually. I’m scared that they’ll eventually decide to forego playing in Montreal altogether. *Insert panic attack*

But we’re not there yet, I hope. (By the way, thanks to those who thought it was a good idea to start booing when they announced they were at the end of their tour and would be taking a very well deserved vacation. Real classy, guys… that’ll make them wanna come back for damn sure!)

This being said, I’m not here to critique the show, ’cause I got no chill and loved it all. As I always do. They started out with one of my favorite songs from their latest album so, you know, I was a goner from the start… all right, I was a goner before I even bought the tickets… sue me! Also, I splurged on a meet & greet ticket, so that’s another awesome thing I had to look forward to. It stressed me a whole lot (in more ways than one), but it was worth it. Got a picture out of it too! 

Nope… not showing it… you go ahead and get your own!

First off, although I’d like to tell you what genre of music this is, I don’t think I can be assertive about that. The only certainty, I think, is that they are “progressive” something. Some will say Progressive Rock while others will say Progressive Metal. I saw Alternative Rock and Symphonic Rock too. I imagine that if we go with probabilities and take the words most used, we still end up with Progressive Rock.

I’m okay with that, although I think some songs would still deserve the Metal appellation. 

About the band itself; as I’ve said before (in an other post, no doubt), I don’t listen to radio that much – not that I think they get much airplay, not in Quebec anyway. I got into this particular band because of the Rock Band video game. My friends and I were really into it when it came out and we’d play almost every weekend. And every time we’d get to play their song, Welcome Home, I’d just get this odd feeling, like I knew it. I just didn’t know where I knew it from. You can see the official video here, but to hear the whole song, you better click here instead. There’s a two minute difference… which is a lot if you think about it.

Turns out I had never heard it before. All I can think of is that their influences and inspiration are just really close to what I myself like to listen to, like Pink Floyd and early Metallica, maybe. And, well, if I liked the song in the game, listening to the “real thing” just made me that much more enamoured with it when I heard there were actually strings involved. (Not the stripper kind of strings, if that helps any.) Maybe I just had never noticed because when I play, I’m so focused on not messing up that I barely hear anything; here’s a link if you wanna know how it sounds in the game.

Before I knew anything about them, my friends and I spent a stupid amount of time discussing the possible origin of the band (because we were too lazy to look them up, I guess). See, Claudio Sanchez – the frontman, the one with the magnificent mane – has this way of singing that reminds me a lot of Tori Amos

Wait! Don’t go! 

What I mean is… they both modify the pronunciation of words to better suit the melody, which often makes them sound like they have a crazy accent from God-knows-where. It took me a while to realize Tori did this, and it took me just as long to understand this was Claudio’s case too. Pretty sure others do it too, I just haven’t listened to them enough to notice.

Anyway… I looked up the song, liked it, and bought the album: Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (it’s a mouthful, I know). I was hooked on first listen. So much so that I went and bought the previous albums, The Second Stage Turbine Blade and In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. The fourth one, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume II: No World For Tomorrow, was just about to come out so, you know, got this one too.

For something like a year, the MP3 CD I made of the four first albums played as I drove to and from work. With a 45 minutes commute, I needed to be entertained. Did I grow tired of it? Certainly not! Then a new album would come out and I’d make another CD to add it in. I don’t have a CD/MP3 player in my car anymore (or do I? Maybe I do… dunno!), but I have everything Coheed in the old iPhone I use to listen to music whenever I’m driving. 

If I were to give you a ride, there’s a big chance you’d be subjected to that very playlist. Better be lovin’ it!

They’ve come up with four more albums since then and yes, I bought every single one of them: Year of the Black RainbowThe Afterman: AscensionThe Afterman: Descension, and The Color Before the Sun. And I can honestly say that I love them all.

Still, if I have to be one hundred percent honest, I sometimes had to get “used” to the new albums. The best example I have is for both Afterman volumes. If at first I was really put off for some reason, now I kinda think they’re my favorites. I’ve had even more trouble getting used to the last one, quite frankly. I don’t hate it, yet I find it’s missing something… some of the usual edge, maybe. 

It probably also has to do with the fact that it doesn’t sit under the same creative umbrella as the first seven albums. See, all the others are directly linked to written stories – most of them having come out as comic books penned by Claudio Sanchez (Lead singer/guitar) and co-writers when applicable: The Amory Wars. Which means that their first seven albums all relate to that one epic universe. I won’t (can’t) go into much details, but you can go take a look at the wiki page on the subject… it’s pretty complete I think.

The name of the band? It’s actually the names of two characters which we meet in the first instalment of the comics, married Cambria and Coheed Kilgannon. The first four albums all delve into that universe in the form of comics. The Year of The Black Rainbow though, when you bought the “special edition” album, came with a novel – you know, bunch o’ words, no drawings, hard cover – which is a prequel to the story we’d already been introduced to.

And then there’s the double act, The Afterman. Their story takes place even before that, although it apparently isn’t part of the Amory Wars per se. It’s still the same universe though, so I choose to blatantly ignore that fact. Once again, you’d only get the story if you bought the Deluxe Edition.

Would I still be as much into that band and their music if there wasn’t a whole world of stories behind it all? Of course… I certainly didn’t know at first that this was happening. But it may have contributed in me liking them even more. Doesn’t matter that I’m not a big fan of comic books to begin with (I’d honestly love to have EVERYTHING written out as novels instead. Or even as a TV series, or movies… I’ll take anything!). I just love the fact that it adds another dimension to the music, music which I often find nicely layered by the way.

Not sure what I mean? See The Black Rainbow or Pretelethal, for instance… this is what I mean when I say layered; it just builds up and builds up until there’s so much going on that it’s close to unbearable. To some, it will be – I’ve been asked to shut it off – but for me, that’s enough for an eargasm! Is “layered” the right term to use? Probably not, I’m no professional musician… this is just how I feel it.

Another thing I love about them is how generous they are with their material. Most of their albums came with “demos”… sometimes it’s different versions of some of their songs, but in the later years, it also meant songs that aren’t even on the regular albums. To the extent where those demos are full albums all on their own (called Big Beige Demos, because why not). Of those “other songs”, Carol Ann has to be a favorite of mine.

I could go on and on, as you probably can tell by now. If you don’t know them at all, I would urge you to look them up for yourself because there’s no telling that my own taste in music will mirror yours. Still, I’d like to do a little thing here… I’d like to share which two songs I prefer on each album. I won’t go so far as to explain why. Just take a listen and you might just find something you like.

And since I’m an anal-retentive asshole, I’ll be listing it all in chronological order. And both songs will be written in the order they come on the album. Because there’s no way I can even start trying to rank them… Choose a number one? Damn right impossible!

So let’s start, shall we?

THE SECOND STAGE TURBINE BLADE

(2002)

 

IN KEEPING SECRETS OF SILENT EARTH: 3

(2003)

2113

 
 

GOOD APOLLO, I’M BURING STAR IV, VOLUME 1: FROM FEAR THROUGH THE EYES OF MADNESS

(2005)

The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut

 
 

GOOD APOLLO, I’M BURNING STAR IV, VOLUME II: NO WORLD FOR TOMORROW

(2007)

No World For Tomorrow

Mother Superior

Damn… this could very well be a torture device, I kid you not!

 
 

YEAR OF THE BLACK RAINBOW

(2010)

Guns Of Summer

(If I hadn’t already linked you to The Black Rainbow, it’d be here for sure)

THE AFTERMAN: ASCENSION

(2012)

Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute

Key Entity Extraction II: Holly Wood The Cracked

THE AFTERMAN: DESCENSION

(2013)

Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant

Gravity’s Union

(Carol Ann, which I’ve linked earlier, would have made the cut here too)

THE COLOR BEFORE THE SUN

(2015)

Ghost

Phew! I’m done… you better be appreciative!

Seriously, on most of the albums, I like all the songs… what am I saying? I LOVE all the songs. Do I sound like a crazy person? Maybe a little… do I listen to other stuff? I most certainly do. These guys just happen to be the band I can’t help but call “the band of my life”. I’ve loved many artists over the years, most of whom I still love today. But this here is… I don’t really have words… they just ARE, you know?

If I can share one last thing with you, I’d like to talk about something I would consider going back in time for. Thankfully, rather than having a DeLorean in my back pocket, I have a DVD of the event. Imagine getting to see a band play their albums (they only had four at the time) in their entirety, in the order of their release, making it a four night event. Yeah! They did that! And I missed it because I didn’t really know much about them when this happened. Plus, from this Wiki page about it, only four cities were BLESSED with this particular tour: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and London.

I probably could have made it to either New York or Chicago, but that’s all right. I get to see it all whenever I want, so I’m okay. (I would still go back in time for this… just sayin’)

COHEED AND CAMBRIA: NEVERENDER

(2009)

I won’t link you to it, but I know for a fact that this whole thing is somewhere on Youtube. One video per night. Good luck!

I think I pretty much said all I had to say on the subject. Don’t get me wrong, I could keep going, and going, and going… you know, like that annoying battery bunny rabbit! But I’d rather keep you as a future reader than annoy you to death with facts about a band you might not care about in the slightest… well, not yet anyway!

As you probably noticed, I’m not a critique, or a connoisseur (as a native French speaker, this spelling just irks me… had to say it). I’m just someone who appreciates music and happens to love this band a whole lot. It kinda sucks that I can’t discourse about them with many people… except my brother and “sister-in-law”, I don’t know anyone who likes ’em as much as we do.

I really hope this was entertaining for you. Maybe you heard something you like? Please, feel free to share your thoughts, doesn’t matter if you agree with me or not. To each their own, right? Hell, if you have a better idea as to how to qualify them, please do so… I’m at a total loss… not that I lose sleep over that! Moving on…

I hope you have (had, will have) a marvelous day, and I certainly hope to see you again soon!

Partagez moi! / Share Me!

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