Hippo Manchester
January 5, 2006

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Coheed and Cambria, Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness

Sony, 2005

B

Do you wish that The Mars Volta were a little less oblique?

Is The Porcupine Tree a bit too prog rock for your tastes? Do you appreciate the wail of Judas Priest, the falsetto of Rush and the driving guitar riffs of Sparta or Texas is the Reason? Do you like ancient gods from times of yore?

Guess what: Coheed and Cambria has been lab-grown specifically for you. It’s a little bit Sabbath, a bit Sunny Day Real Estate, a bit Renaissance Fair troubador and a lot “ello Kingston New York! Are you ready to wraaaaawk!?!”

There is something cheesily enjoyable about the New York foursome of Claudio Sanchez, Travis Stever, Michael Todd and Joshua Eppard. They are obviously quite technically adept musicians and, I suspect, hold deep reverence for the soaring metal of the eighties (not simply for the crushing-a-beer-can-on-one’s-head rockitude, but for the intricate melodies and structures of an epic Iron Maiden song). Songs like “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood & Burial)” and the oft-spun-on-FNX “The Suffering” come alive with their winding guitar solos and multi-tracked harmonizing. Stever’s guitarwork is so tight one could describe it as mathematics in staccato punk/metal fusion. Sanchez’s over-the-top keening ranks up there in the rafters with Geddy Lee and Rob Halford in terms of best metal falsettos yet heard. Todd and Eppard, often subsumed by their bandmates’ metal fury, provide solid undercurrents without which the musical excursions of Sanchez and Stever would fall woefully flat.

The fixation on resurrecting 80s heavy metal mythology and mysticism overly encheesenates the album, though if taken as individual tracks Good Apollo ... provides quite an enjoyable throwback to the metal of yester-year. Finally a CD for hipsters who inherited their middle-aged uncle’s ’83 Camaro to blast as they tear-ass down Elm Street or peel out in Shaw’s parking lots. Coheed and Cambria do a great job of synthesizing their forefathers in metal, emo and punk into an engaging mixture. Though, despite their technical and cheesical merits, you can get the feeling that they love the music they’re homaging a tad more than the music they’re creating..

— Glenn Given