A friend recently posted a comment about perhaps being too old to be a fan of Coheed and Cambria. This is actually a sentiment I have felt for the past few years, being 31 now. I can’t escape that this band encompasses everything that I love not just in music, but in performance, and in concept. Hosting some of the most prolific musicians of the 21st century, the band also boasts a creative output that borders on the obscure, if not downright eccentric. Add to this an incredible live performance – I managed to see them four times while I was an undergraduate, and you have all the makings for a truly unique musical experience. The group has not gone without its challenges, including line-up changes, troubles with addiction, and the general problems of fame, but they have never failed to deliver in music, video, and print production. Perhaps then, it is not that I’m getting to old to enjoy the band, but rather, their timelessness invites a youthful audience that simply makes me feel old. Moving past this, I feel better about the band having such a large presence in my life, and I invite you to consider, should the question pertain to you: what is your favorite Coheed and Cambria album?
My introduction to the band came from In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, when a good friend brought it and its predecessor back from a concert. I was instantly mesmerized by its craftsmanship – the rhythm section stood out strongly, while not overpowering (not that it would be possible in this band) the guitars. The seamless musical transitions and expert interplay between members made clear that their music wasn’t simply an esoteric practice in making noise and trying to impress listeners – this was a cohesive effort. Shortly after listening to Silent Earth, and The Second Stage Turbine Blade, I had the opportunity to see the band live, with an opening act that would forever change the way I looked at musical performance – but that is a different story. For the two years that followed, I would learn to play every track on these two albums, and I became engrossed in the narrative behind them, for which the lead singer would later release a series of comic books.
This experience led to an incredible anticipation for more work from the band, and for more information on an epic, albeit convoluted, science-fiction tale. Shortly after seeing the band a couple more times, and getting a signed copy of the first comic book to coincide with the albums, the band started promoting the upcoming album Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. Despite the album’s pretentious title, it far exceeded all of my expectations, and certainly created an undeniable buzz for the band – they were featured on an MTV program shortly after its release, which, as I recall, is a sure sign of success and ability. The accompanying graphic novel was no less obscure than the narrative content, but the complete experience was so well crafted that the album and text could have been called All my Children and still have been as successful.
[I had hoped to embed the video for “Welcome Home” here, but the official Youtube page for C & C disabled it. Instead, enjoy their newest single: “Number City]
The albums that followed were more accessible, certainly in the case of No World for Tomorrow and Year of the Black Rainbow, although their newer works from The Afterman series recall the narrative flair of earlier works. Musically, narratively, and in terms of performances, I can’t imagine a stronger album than Burning Star IV, which boasted incredible guitars and effects, solid bass playing – it was certainly a shame that Mike Todd went down the path he did, and the drums never got better than the open-handed, and slightly pukey, Josh Eppard. Their performances reached an all-time high for me during this phase, constituting one of the most amazing performances I’ve ever seen – complete with a guillotine. I have little doubt that any of my readers have not heard of the band by this point, and I hope I’ve made my pick clear, with Burning Star IV as my favorite, but I would like to know: If you are a fan, which is your favorite Coheed and Cambria album?
Album covers link to their respective Amazon pages for sampling and ordering
On twitter at @coheed