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DeadSet Records 12/05

COHEED AND CAMBRIA ‘Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures’

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What are songs but stories told through music, provoking emotion and encouraging connection? Stories about heartache, love and loss, passion and society. What does it matter where the stories come from? Coheed and Cambria (Coheed), some of the hardest working musicians in the industry, bring their own stories to life, through symphonic metal riffs, lyrics and literature. What does it matter if the content is based on a comic book series?

Renowned for their production of epic metal masterpieces influenced by the heavy metal masters of old, Coheed returns to their roots with Vaxis – Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures, their latest addition to their extensive catalogue. Coheed’s previous album The Colour Before The Sun strayed away from the intricate timelines of lead singer Claudio Sanchez’s science fiction universe The Amory Wars. While a good album, The Colour Before The Sun caused division among the hardcore fan base due to its removal from The Amory Wars fiction. The Unheavenly Creatures appeases this as Sanchez restores the lyrical content back to his fantasy timeline.

The Unheavenly Creatures is a reformed take on the standard progressive genre-blending offering. The impressive musicality and visionary lyrics generate soundscapes sometimes lost with releases from their prog-rock peers, other artists in this genre tend to rely on overcomplicated rhythms and layering melodies. But the tradeoff is that the Unheavenly Creatures seems like a collection of styles rather and colliding ideas.

Each song on the album, averages upwards of 6 minutes, are easy to listen to but don’t initially blow me away. The album can be loosely described as a tribute to Coheed’s favourite artists, and songs are crafted using a distinct and repeated formula. The formula equating to the first half of the song containing the tribute section, and the second half a symphonic outro, containing repeated lyrics like the title track “Unheavenly Creatures” ‘run, run, run, run’ and ‘Break, Break, Break’ in “True Ugly”  almost forcing the listener to find a catchy hook. In reality, though, the hooks are not what hardcore fans of C&C come for. They come for an album designed to be digested from track 1 to track 15. They come for the thrilling, complicated and rhapsodic tales. The fans are here for as much of the continuation of The Amory Wars storyline as they are for the record.

Each song provides an occasional unique and interesting flurry “Queen Of The Dark” drags a dark piano piece across drum heavy sludge rock, while “Unheavenly Creatures” introduces a video game-esq 8-bit sample that ties the song together. “Toys” has a classic rock sound, I’m reminded of the Foo Fighters album There Is Nothing Left To Lose, there’s an interesting message in the lyrics if you choose to read into the metaphors.

“It Walks Among Us” brings a pop-rock feel, catchy hook in the chorus ‘If you want it all my dear’ repeated enough to stick in your brain. Then “Old Flames” conjures up similarities to Motion City Soundtrack’s indie/emo rock sound, especially with the ‘Na, na-na-na, na nah uhhh’ that brings the song to a close.

“Lucky Stars”, an acoustic break from the heavy distorted onslaught of the rest of the album, placed as the last track does bring the dynamics down, I was hoping for something a little more epic, considering the pace of the first 14 tracks.

Vaxis – Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures is a distinctly progressive, rock album, easily accessible with flourishes of progyness peppered throughout their sweeping epic songs. A showcase of Sanchez and the gang’s multitude of musical talent in a variety of listenable styles, Unheavenly Creatures is a truly fantastic album for casual prog fans and Coheed hardcore fans alike.

Unheavenly Creatures is accompanied by the P.R. Brown-directed official video and an exclusive interview with frontman Claudio Sanchez, both available to view at Fans can also tune in today for Marvel’s weekly podcast, This Week In Marvel to listen to an extended interview with Sanchez as he discusses the band’s forthcoming album.

Coheed and Cambria have shared their new single Unheavenly Creatures, the title track from their widely anticipated new LP, The Unheavenly Creatures, set for release on October 5.

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