Coheed and Cambria - The Afterman: Descension (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Coheed and Cambria

The Afterman: Descension (2013)


After struggling to make it through The Afterman: Ascension last October, I was dead-set on ducking another Coheed and Cambria album with that preconceived notion that it would suck. Then I decided that maybe it could pleasantly surprise me or that I'd have a rare negative review to throw in the mix (God spare Punk Goes Pop Vol. 5)! Well, it turned out to be the former and saying I was blindsided The Afterman: Descension is a grand understatement. Coheed delivered the more melodic aspect of their character, pun intended given their affinity to storytell through comics, while minimalising the integrayion of post-hardcore punk from records gone.

"Prelethal" is driven by the band's usual power metal influence and embedded in these riffs are Claudio Sanchez's dastardly tales of dead romances and benign worlds. It's atypical of what he's crafted in Armory Wars thus far, and the song holds its own amid acoustic picking that really didn't seem to fit the bill here. "Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant" raises the stakes and stands its ground as arguably the best on the album; it feels a bit like a sequel to "Delirium Trigger" with a far more powerful sound that bring Claudio's lyrics to life. You get the sense of dread off the high concept they want you to envision here as it seems to be resigned in despair.

"Iron Fist" adds an even more melodic spin to the tale with its balladry that lends credence to the tragedy of "The Afterman" that we've read and heard previously. You can tell this isn't ending on a great note as the angst felt by Meri and Sirius comes unbound. It adds a lot of flavor for comic fans who've been wrapped in tales of Domino The Destitute and the Keywork. "Dark Side Of Me" is wisely picked to lead the round-up of the record as it recalls the best elements of Coheed's sound from their earlier days. The band sacrificed a lot of "harder" sounds from Ascension to allow Claudio's vocal prowess to tell the story to full completion.

Fruition isn't fully gained without a few hiccups here and there though. "Hard Sell" tries to sell that old-school classic-rock style but it comes off more cheesy than vintage. "Number City" was also a risk that really could flatline the life of the record but surprisingly, the misses weren't that many beyond that. These songs felt very detrimental to the flow and in their campiness, they added to breaking the coherency of what was being translated. The serious vibe needed to be constant, given the scope of the record. All in all, with bad songs few and far between, this was a pleasant surprise and redeemed a lot after my high expectations from last October. It's a technically sound album and wasn't as pretentious as I imagined. Seeing how they follow up this and expound on this universe, whether it be via on paper or on record, should definitely be thought-provoking.