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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Coheed and Cambria
Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness
Columbia

Rating: 6/10 ?


November 11, 2005
There's very little room for in-between when it comes to a band like Coheed and Cambria: either you hate them or you don't. Love them or hate them, the prog-rock emo-punk hardcore mash-up with high pitched androgynous vocals at the least makes the band unique.

For what it's worth, I like the band. I appreciate the group's unpredictability and the way their epic songs, full of twists and shifts, starts and stops, can end with an excellent payoff in the form of a cathartic breakdown or soaring chorus. It's part of their trademark, and a musical path that separates them from all the other whiny emo pretenders out there.

The obscure lyrics and references are another of the band's tricks; I will not buy a comic book to follow along with a rock album, so I might not understand what the hell Claudio Sanchez's lyrics are all about. Sing about killing people, delirium triggers, rocket ships, brothers and sisters, evil spirits, New Jersey, what ever the hell you want, man! It's weird, but who am I to judge? I'll sing along even if I don't understand, as long as there is some interesting shit going on. Sanchez has been quite astute at finding a balance between melody, accessibility and experimentation in the groups past 2 full lengths.

So you should know what you are in for with Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness (as if you couldn't figure it out just by the title). One significant change has occurred since Coheed last dished out a batch of epic prog. They've signed to major label Columbia; they must have gotten a sweet creative deal, because you can tell their weirdness hasn't been reigned in one bit, nor has the need for a "hit" single influenced their songwriting. In fact, the two supposed singles on this album, "The Suffering" and "Wake Up", don't have much potential to make the band crossover stars (though with some luck, I could be proven wrong). The former sounds like Coheed always sounded, with those Rush-like guitar parts and vocals that sound like the 80s, band Scandal, plus a nice, catchy chorus. "Wake Up", on the other hand, goes into pretty lame territory with a whispery ballad that sounds like Queensryche's "Silent Lucidity" - the band loses points for this stab at tenderness.

While the sound of Good Apollo will be familiar to fans of the band, it's also missing the spark of punk energy that was a foil to the band's prog indulgence. The solos, the breakdowns, the would-be singalongs are less potent than on previous efforts (see "Time Consumer" and "Blood Red Summer" for examples of prog done right). On this album, the miniature four song epic, "The Willing Well Parts 1-4", is full of chaos, but the parts where the band cracks out of the mire for a breakdown are less satisfying. Basically, not having a great chorus or an awe-inspiring melodic interlude to the song(s) makes the several preceding minutes of experimentation less enchanting.

Decent and decadent, Good Apollo is still ultimately the least of the band's 3 full lengths. It continues the band's tradition for experimentation, with melodies breaking through the chaos but it is less successful and equally disappointing with no new tricks.

Reviewed by Dan Williams
A staff writer based in Brooklyn, New York, Dan Williams is a frequent contributor to LAS magazine. He once lived in Köln, Germany for a semester, is currently persuing his MBA in New York, and recently switched sides and began working as a publicist for Special Ops Media in New York.

See other reviews by Dan Williams

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