"Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness" (Equal Vision; 2005)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I like my music with a storyline. Since I’ve got progressive genes (mostly from listening to bands like Rush, Yes, Dream Theater and Queensryche), I’ll confidently -- but not blindly -- move toward a flame that burns progressive. Coheed And Cambria stretch my musical tastes and inject some sci-fi on this release.  

If you’re a tattooed fan of Coheed And Cambria please disregard my blather. If you want to get sucked into a strange vortex of progressive metal, story telling and sci-fi opera, keep reading. Although its not required to know the story unfolding, it helps to know that this is Part One so, if you like it (and you will because it doesn’t fit anywhere you try to put it) Part Two will continue the tale.

This is the first disc of the fourth in an anticipated tetralogy. The story is written backwards and now, with this disc, the tale begins to resolve issues of Claudio’s quest to protect the Keywork. Coheed and Cambria are married and their children are to be murdered by a Monstar virus. A graphic novel that tells the whole story was released the same day. Claudio Sanchez, the lead singer, pens all the lyrics and all novels relating to the story. 

If you want to really dive into a band then Coheed And Cambria offer not just music but text to follow along. I’ll admit the story helped me to stay more connected than the CD did. It may get a little weird towards the end because cuts 12 - 15 are seven minutes in length each and lean heavily on the “opera” in "sci-fi opera."  

The vocals are cool because the story is basically sung. A woman interjects and answers the questions asked and sometimes they sing over each other. The music doesn’t really follow a heavy style but the guitar does rip in parts and it’s crafted to keep you listening. It’s seventy-one minutes long, so a quick listen would be out of the question. 

Coheed And Cambria : Claudio Sanchez – voice, guitar; Travis Stever – guitar, lap steel, vocals; Michael Todd – bass, vocals; Joshua Eppard – drums, keyboards, vocals. 

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"In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3" (Equal Vision; 2003)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

It doesn't matter what I try and do, this band draws me in each time they release a disc. Their approach to progressive music, coupled with a graphic novel, is about the only way I know how to take them. A lot of buzz words are tossed around about Coheed And Cambria and "new prog" is the latest. I'm sure it will change again because you can't label these guys or try to pin them down to a certain category. I'd like to offer up one I think encompasses their approach: "Novelistic Progressive Music." You can give the Roman thumbs up or down.

Back again with the second album in the tetralogy about "The Amory Wars," Coheed And Cambria continue with their storytelling while progressive guitar and Claudio Sanchez's recognizable vocals sing the tale. I think if somebody stumbled onto this band they might not get the whole concept. It's not just music set to lyrics, it’s a story set to a background and those who know what Coheed And Cambria are all about revel in their mastery.

The Evil Ink Comic website gives you a little more information about the continuing story of Claudio and how he emerges ten years later from the depths of Shylos Ten. He is still on the quest to find answers as to why his family was killed. He teams with Ambellina who is forced to be his guide but things take an unexpected turn while they are on their ship called Camper Velourium.

The music is done with a progressive style but it's also used to tell the story. Those who love crunchy riffs and sweet solos will probably just get lost in the music but you can't help when listening to each song that it flows like chapters of a book, or in this case, a graphic novel. Songs 7-9 refer to the ship Camper Velourium. You will have to read the title of each song to know where it fits within the story.

Songs 12-23 are untitled tracks with no sound. Track 24 clocks in at 9:47. The whole disc is 69:24 so if want to listen to a good book, I suggest this one.

Coheed And Cambria: Claudio Sanchez - Vocals, Guitar; Travis Stever - Guitar, Vocals; Michael Todd - Bass, Vocals; Josh Eppard - Drums, Vocals, Piano; Danny Louis - Additional keyboards.

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"The Second Stage Turbine Blade" (Equal Vision; 2002 / 2005)

Reviewed by Ray Van Horn Jr.

To this day, my buddy and I have a long-running laugh about how we saw Coheed and Cambria open for Hot Water Music and Thrice and had absolutely no clue we did. Given that we were fifteen minutes late for the gig, we caught Coheed and Cambria's last few songs and then made a firm note of how the 9:30 Club in Washington DC thinned noticeably in ranks, unheard of for an opening band. It being a school night for the younger sect, we figured that was the reasoning. The true reason, however, remains the fact that a large portion of the attendance that evening was there to see Coheed and Cambria, a band soon to rise in the ranks of pop punk, and a band who were mere openers at the time. 

How fitting in the wake of Coheed and Cambria's jettisoning success that Equal Vision re-releases the band's debut album "The Second Stage Turbine Blade." For a band that through the past two albums ("In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3" and "Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV Volume I: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness") has really tapped into a Rush-like progressive vein within their emo infrastructure, looking back at "The Second Stage Turbine Blade" is both sobering and anticlimactic. On the one hand, the more simplistic essence of "The Second Stage Turbine Blade" is indicative of the direction emo punk has turned the past couple of years, which is not really a good thing. But on the other, this album serves as writing on the wall for Coheed and Cambria. "The Second Stage Turbine Blade" is a raw but rather polished freshman run, and with songs like "Everything Evil," "Delirium Trigger" and "God Send Conspirator," the groundwork is obviously laid here for Coheed and Cambria's subsequent work. 

There's innocuousness to "The Second Stage Turbine Blade" that's undoubtedly endearing to their fans. Already a portion of this legion can say they've come of age to Coheed and Cambria, much as the band itself has come of age. In three short years, Coheed and Cambria has surpassed the obvious expectations laid down by "The Second Stage Turbine Blade." In that respect, this is what makes it an innocuous if not imperative listen. 

To entice you into adding this version to your collection, Equal Vision has planted three bonus tracks on this reissue, a B-side song, "Elf Tower New Mexico," as well as demo versions of "Everything Evil" and "Junesong Provision," the latter song unplugged.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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