Coheed and Cambria - The Color Before The Sun (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Coheed and Cambria

The Color Before The Sun (2015)

300 entertainment

Coheed and Cambria for me have always been non-conformist and eccentric, not in any sort of rock/punk/fist-in-the-air anti-establishment musical sense, but more in the way Claudio Sanchez has carded his comic book universe, his musical realm and the overall story of his characters' journey in The Amory Wars. While not a culmination of these stories, The Color Before The Sun is their first non-concept record from this universe and it does feel like a sort of finish line as its narrative lays bare his takes on fatherhood and family, as well as a sense of maturing and getting more content seeing the smiles on your kids' faces. Musically, it's toned down a lot, which fits in line with their last couple releases and which makes sense as you get grey, and definitely sticks to the likes of "A Favor House Atlantic" as opposed to the more rugged, pit-era "Delirium Trigger". It ends up leaving you asking if their rocker days are gone but in its own right, this LP lives up to being what it intended -  mainstream, poppy and accessible. 

It isn't the most artistically rendered and plays off more along the lines of a commercial product. Don't get me wrong, it's got a lot of musical style from both records off The Afterman but it's tempered back with Sanchez's personalized lyrics, hitting home more than expected. They threw me back to when I was kicking rocks to their music in high school and now, moving on in life at age 29, a lot of content here aligns perfectly with my own perspective and Sanchez's outlook on life. All of this, of course, altered with marriage and a sense of comfort and happiness, as you'd read in his comic interviews with his wife. "Colors" are a prime example of this - serene, slow and picky a la "The Afterman", feeling like a huge sigh of relief. As the band waxes on about life and people encountered on the travels, they even touch on topics like same-sex relationships, which they may not have had the ability to on their concept albums prior. It's growth and allows for more experiential tales to be written from a band I've always felt never did enough serious work which really could have blown up bigger (not that I didn't like the fun stuff they did in the past, but still...)

There's a nice musical ambiance also a la 30 Seconds To Mars on a couple tracks with "Young Love" proving a big sell via its exquisite and melodic guitar patterns (and as expected, it's a hugely guitar-driven album). As the acoustic/orchestral closer in "Peace To The Mountain" brings down the curtains, it's apparent that Coheed and Cambria are steering clear of being a band afraid of risk and experimentation. While quite a bit of The Color Before The Sun feels familiar, the spine and essence of their writing is new and very much relatable so that alone makes it worth the listen. However, there's a great sense of rock panache missing that would have topped the record off. Grittier and bolder. Rasher. More rock and roll. More cutting. That's what I needed to give this album the extra credit. This'll do for now but the true litmus test will come when they give us a hint as to if this is a permanent direction or just a minor detour.