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4.50 | 11 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2013


1. Pretelethal (3:21)
2. Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant (5:45)
3. The Hard Sell (5:10)
4. Number City (3:49)
5. Gravity's Union (6:46)
6. Away We Go (3:55)
7. Iron Fist (4:46)
8. Dark Side of Me (5:03)
9. 2's My Favorite 1 (4:55)

Total time: 43:24


Claudio Sanchez - vocals, guitar
Travis Stever - guitar, backing vocals
Josh Eppard - drums, percussion
Zach Cooper - bass

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The Afterman: Descension is the seventh full-length studio album by the American Progressive band Coheed And Cambria. It was released in 2013, and is the second part of a two-record set alongside 2012’s Afterman: Ascension.

If you’ve just discovered this band and aren’t sure what they might sound like, they mix Progressive Rock tendencies and occasional metal sections into a core sound of cheerful, highly melodic alternative rock, never sitting still in one style for long to really sound like anyone but themselves. It’s all topped off with fabulously varied and expressive vocals from a distinctive singer with an unbelievably large range that allows him to convey emotion remarkably well.

If you are a new fan interested in the band and want to try this album in particular, I’d recommend that at a minimum you also get yourself a copy of Ascension so as to make sense of the connections that those albums share, and to appreciate the effort that the band went to when deciding to create a double album.

Structurally the album is similar to the one which precedes it. Both albums open up softly with an intro track that sets the story’s tone, follow it by an adventurous progressive centerpiece track (‘Domino The Destitute’ and ‘Sentry The Defiant’), go on to deliver a main body that provides a mixture of softer more ballad-esque numbers (‘The Afterman’ and ‘Iron Fist’), heavy moments (‘Vic The Butcher’ and ‘Gravity’s Union’) and fun (‘Goodnight, Fair Lady’ and ‘The Hard Sell’). Additionally, the characters “All Mother” and Sirus still pop up between tracks with spoken dialogue, as they did on Ascension, and the last notes of music here are a callback to the first notes on the previous album.

Within that similarity there is still variety however, for example the opening track on this record becomes a lot louder and more dynamic, and the closer is a much more up-tempo affair in comparison to the one Ascension.

Josh Eppard is still back on the drums with his distinctive playing style and the production job is still in the same style as the previous record, as opposed to the one found on No World For Tomorrow that some fans complained was over-sweet, or the indeed the one on Year Of The Black Rainbow that people said was too weird. The combination of drumming and production styles would appear to suggest that now the band are returning closer to the style of Good Apollo Part 1.

Musically however, the band aren’t simply repeating themselves or trying to recreate any one album, even the last one. Yes, there’s material littered throughout which is reminiscent of parts of each and every one of their previous albums, but the way that the band have found to mix those elements together has resulted in fresh sounding, interesting material.

They even cover a bit of ground they never have before on the eccentric track ‘Number City’ which has an almost funky, disco sort of feel and mixes electronic sounds, with guitar and vocal tones that the band haven’t used since their debut record, as well as wind instruments to create something altogether new for them.

If you care about the band’s story side, here’s a brief synopsis. If you don’t want spoilers skip to the very last paragraph. The story of the first part, Ascension, concerned a scientist called Sirus Amory (title-character of the band’s overall Amory Wars concept, which stretches across all their albums as well as some non-musical ventures like a novel, graphic novels and an upcoming movie).

Sirus; alongside his spaceship’s/space-suit’s Artificial Intelligence, (the “All-Mother”), leaves his wife Miri on a scientific expedition and discovers that a source of energy called The Keywork, guarded by angels called The Prise, which provides power and nutrients for planets in the fictional universe Heaven’s Fence, is in fact a grim purgatory for the souls of the dead.

Sirus is accosted there by three malevolent souls; Domino, Holly Wood and an evil military general called Vic, who damage his ship and greatly injures him. Luckily Sirus is rescued by a benevolent soul named Evagria, at which point he realizes he was wrong to hurt his wife by leaving on what now appears to be a suicide mission. With his spaceship destroyed, the world believes Sirus to have been killed. Back on their home planet, a grieving Miri falls in love with a police officer who saves her from a rapist that had interfered with her drink.

Descension carries on that story. Evagria, along with another benevolent soul called Sentry, who had been hanged by Vic for not committing military atrocities during their lives, help Sirus escape the Keywork, imparting knowledge of a plane of existence that is better than the purgatory they’re currently in. When Sirus emerges after what appeared to be one week, 547 days have actually passed outside and when he makes his way, mangled, to a space station, where he lies to the scientific community about the nature of the Keywork at the insistence of The Prise who don’t want mankind to know the secrets of death and the afterlife.

Sirus then attempts to return to his wife, who is now pregnant with the police officer’s baby, but accidentally kills her and the unborn child in a car crash and after both medical recovery and grieving, he attempts to return to the Keywork at great personal risk, to help them pass over to a better afterlife.

Admittedly; if you are a new fan it may be confusing and mightn’t work on its own with no context, so do try and pick up Ascension as well. I’d also recommend you try their third album, Good Apollo Tonight I’m Burning Star IV: Volume 1: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness, as it is one of the band’s most popular and well-regarded records and contains a lot of their concert-favourite tracks.

Overall; Descension is a good addition to the band’s catalogue and if you are an existing fan, there is no question at all, you absolutely should pick up a copy. Its always going to vary with an individual’s personal taste whether this is better or worse than any other album or band, some people are always going to argue that a double album would be better edited into single album, and some fans will only ever like the old stuff, but in my opinion The Afterman: Descension is a success and is of a high enough quality to sit proudly alongside Coheed And Cambria’s other records without feeling out of place or like a let-down. The mixture of tracks like ‘Gravity’s Union’ with stuff like ‘Iron Fist’ is what this band are all about, and Descension adds another interesting selection of tracks to your collection.

**Oh, and if you found this review by search engine, when you discover it again on Amazon it is me posting it. It hasn’t been copied and pasted off here by a stranger, I post my reviews on Amazon as ‘Gentlegiantprog “Kingcrimsonprog.”’ So please don’t unhelpful-vote it because you thought it was stolen from me.**
So...Coheed releases a new album...I already know I'm going to love this.

Yes, I am a massive Coheed fan. I don't really need to say more. But, to be honest, when this album was coming out...I wasn't really expecting much.

I think I was thinking at the time "eugh...double albums...this is going to be left over material". But...this is Coheed...there is a reason behind all this (also, making 2 albums for the price of one saves a lot of money) this a brilliant sequel...or just a hashed up follow up...

It's a brilliant sequel obviously, but the reason why it's brilliant is a bit different to what you would expect. The first album had a "we're back" mentality, with the album being very grand and at times could even be over the top. This album on the other hand has an interesting structure...with the heavier and more out there songs starting the album off...but the other half of the album has a more relaxed and more controlled feeling. This completely reflects the concept of the album, and it really works and actually helps the tones and emotions of the album.

As usual, the band are on top form, and have even shown a lot more experimentation on this album, and at times there experiments could even be described as fearless. Claudios voice has never been stronger in my opinion, and any comments like "he sounds like Geddy Lee on helium" and all that stuff, may even be lost now. Claudio, in my opinion has always had one of the most interesting voices in music, and many people may try and compare him to other people, but at the end of the one can.

1.Pretelethal - Usually Coheed start their albums with a simple instrumental introduction. It was very interesting to see them do a song like this. One of Coheed's most proggy moments in my opinion...and it's only really an introduction. 9/10

2. Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry The Defiant - The obvious single for the album. I remember when the acoustic version of this song leaked, I was pretty excited about this song. Then hearing a live version...and then seeing the band perform it live in the flesh...I was pretty stoked to hear the actual studio version. And yea, I love it. The only problem I have is when the high note is sung, Claudio tends to scream it, but I would have preferred him to have just sung it like he does in the last chorus. A small flaw, but meh, a pretty kick ass song nonetheless. 9/10

3. The Hard Sell - This song reminds me of Mother's Of Men. It has a similar feel and even structure to it. In fact, there may even be a link to these songs, but pretty kick ass nonetheless. Nice interesting harmonies and melodies throughout. 8/10

4. Number City - It starts off as a rather odd song, but as it progresses, its actually more of a return to form for the band. One of the most joyfull chorus' on a Coheed song. It twists and turns in a lot of weird manners, but still one of the most enjoyable songs on the album. 9/10

5. Gravity's Union - I think with Coheed epics, we can get 2 different types of songs. Like Domino in the last album, we had a "anthemic" epic. This is an example of a "progressive" epic, with its anthemic bits coming from the interesting twists and turns that the music has in it. One of Coheed's more interesting moments. 10/10

6. Away We Go - This song is pure cheese...but I love it. What, can I say, I just love cheese. For some reason, this song reminds of Journey (that'll explain the cheese). Definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. 10/10

7. Iron Fist - I remember when I heard the acoustic version of this song, I wasn't too excited. It was alright, but it really didn't excite me. Hearing this new version for the first time, I'm pretty impressed. They were able to take what I thought was an overly simple song, and really decorate it with something really brilliant. The instrumentation really gives this song its magic, and without it, it does seem a bit bland. 8/10

8. Dark Side Of Me - For some odd reason...this might be one of my favorite Coheed songs. Such a powerful vocal performance, and powerful lyrics (mainly due to this song being the climax of the concept). The music video for this song is a must see as well. 10/10

9. 2's My Favourite 1 -Ok...this is a great end to the album, but only one thing was going through my mind..."this sounds like Fall Out Boy." Good poppy ending to the album, and an interesting way to end the whole thing off. 9/10

CONCLUSION: Trying to pick a favorite between these 2 albums is a bit hard. The first one was a lot more in your face I think. This one is a lot more calmer and more easy listening. I think trying to choose between them is like a family choosing between 2 children. I love both albums and think they are masterpieces in Coheed's discographies, and prove that this band have a lot more to say in the coming years. Coheed have been album to get into my top lists of the year, 2 years in a row now. I will just assume that everything they make will be brilliant and never doubt them again.


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