The Prize Fighter Inferno - My Brother's Blood Machine (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Prize Fighter Inferno

My Brother's Blood Machine (2006)

Equal Vision

I think it's time for somebody to put a leash on Claudio Sanchez. Through the three-album progression of Coheed and Cambria, Sanchez has gone from a skilled and focused songwriter to an individual not really in grips with what it takes to write a cohesive song -- let alone an album. Be it a case of trying too much, to simply trying too hard, many of the band's original fans have been alienated, and his solo project, the Prize Fighter Inferno, will do nothing to reel them back in.

Worse yet is the fact that My Brother's Blood Machine is his most scattered and most disjointed effort to date.

He can no longer rely on his bandmates to reel him in when he becomes too outlandish (though that didn't pan out so well on Coheed's last effort anyhow), and thus tries to integrate songwriting elements that are just painfully misguided. Lots of electronic and ambient elements show up on the record that feel like an unfortunate mash-up between the last Coheed album and the Postal Service. "Accidents" is a first-hand example of Sanchez trying to integrate too many styles, as throughout the track's five-minute course, there's some industrial-like beats, some whimsical ambience, and a slow-groove techno beat in the second half of the song. The same style of vocals is continued no matter the background sounds, and this scatterbrained approach encapsulates everything else that goes wrong on the record.

The only time he truly sounds comfortable is when he's using a much more traditional style of instrumentation.

"Run, Gunner Recall, Run! The Town Wants You Dead" sounds as if it could have been an In Keeping Secrets... B-side, with its bouncy, acoustic guitar-accompanied rhythm. Save for the thick, staggered, techno beat that lasts for about 25 seconds in the middle of the track, it's normal. And that's an accomplishment on this record, where so many other songs sound like the additional elements are integrated just for the sake of it. "The Margaretville Dance" sounds like Sanchez singing over a Telefon Tel Aviv beat, and it even turns into somewhat of a dance track in the chorus, as his voice becomes more high-pitched and more brought to the forefront as the volume of the beat is increased. As with many other tracks, it sounds horribly awkward.

More than anything, My Brother's Blood Machine feels like Claudio Sanchez taking an opportunity to try out all the different styles that his Coheed bandmates probably would not let him put on their records. For a man who's actively gone against uniformity, this effort shows his absolute need to embrace it.

This collection of songs is simply that, a collection of songs; there's no album to speak of.