A few months back I wrote a blog about my expectations for this album, and I nailed it on the head. Now you're getting a song by song fan review.
All Coheed albums have an introduction track. Of them, only "The Reaping" from No World For Tomorrow has had lyrics. It's better this way, the ambient atmosphere building to the opening track always helps build suspense for the overall album. Out of them all, "One" is possibly the worst. It's mostly ambient noise, without much melody to stand on it's own. For each of the other four albums, there is something you can hum about the leads. This one just makes you feel empty. That was the point, story wise, but it doesn't even qualify as a song this time around.
Like all other albums in their discography, the pattern continues with a powerful, crowd arousing anthem. "The Broken" is straight forward and heavy, and the unofficial first single. It's the current lead song for concerts, and one of my favorites ever so far. If you had to listen to only one song from this album, it should be "World of Lines." If two, then "The Broken" should be your next number.
Guns of Summer
What's that? We need to show off what the new drummer is capable of? Okay! Guns of Summer has the most ballsy drum line out of any Coheed song so far. While the drums are fucking awesome, the rest of the song is rather... ininspiring. It shows well what they're capable of, but it's not really a very well written song. The chorus is open and free, which contrasts greatly with the insanity in the verses. I'll probably listen to this one less than the others. It seems like it'd be a nice chase scene, or something else with high tension.
Here We Are Juggernaut
Hey, it's a single. It took weeks/months(?) to grow on me, but "Juggernaut" has become one of my favorites of the singles. Initially I loved how diverse and bottom heavy it was, and how uplifting the chorus was, and the bridge, and just about each part individually. I hated how they came together. Maybe it's just weird compositional bridging, or the shift between major and minor. That could explain why the acoustic version is entirely in major, and is one of the best versions of any song they've ever wrote. The album version is good, but it takes time to sink in.
Each album has one of these. The light, usually sappy songs with an airy substance recur, and each is more coherent than the last. "IRO-Bot" was bizarre, "Light and the Glass" was a power-ballad, "Wake Up" was a guilt-trip in major, and "Mother Superior" was too amazing for it's own good. This song has a lot to compete against. It has the benefit of Chris Penne's heavy drum influence to keep it going with an industrial feel, and the dirty guitars playing such a light, melodic piece add an interesting twist to a straight forward song. I like the album version better than the acoustic floating around online. "Far" gets a thumbs up.
This Shattered Symphony
This song is a little too busy for me, and once it's done trying to straighten out it's ADD, I'll be more than happy to review it. I suspect it's a major part of the storyline, but it's nearly my least favorite song on the album. It's heavy, and I suppose the writing isn't terrible, but it sounds too much like it's trying too hard.
World of Lines
I've been dying for this song since they used the instrumental as a background for a studio demo video. It's got a driving tempo and rhythm, a hook-heavy chorus, and verses that don't bore me. It doesn't try to overdo itself, and in the end it's my favorite song on the album (followed closely by "The Broken" and "Far.") You should listen to this one. Even if you don't like Coheed, or progressive rock, or oxygen. This one's good for everyone.
Made Out of Nothing
When the album was first put up on MySpace for all to hear, I felt like this song was the start of a heavy decline in the album. Now that I've heard it more, I really don't mind "Made Out of Nothing" as much. It's still very slow, very long, and not really all that interesting, but it's not bad. It makes a fantastic background sound while doing homework/cleaning/yardwork/etc, and it's got some minor hooks in it too. It'll get stuck in your head, you'll hate yourself for it, and then you'll listen to it again. It's not a bad thing, embrace it. Then go listen to the first half again.
Pearl of the Stars
Surprise! There's a second ballad. This one fits the pattern a little better, but has a Pink Floyd like breakdown/solo 3/5 into the song. I don't like this song very much though. It's disheartening: I love Pink Floyd, I love Coheed and Cambria. I should adore this song and need new pants after hearing. It might be the writing prospective though, lyrically the chorus is terrible. You NEVER rhyme "you" with "you." It's so full of cheese that it might as well give you arterial clogging. It should've/could've been better, but Claudio stepped on his own toes for this one. It's a nice song acoustic too, by the way. Strange flip-flop there. Really, if you start listening at the third minute, you can get straight to the best part of the song. The solo is one of the highlights of the album, but the rest of the song wouldn't ever let you know.
In the Flame of Error
The Pink Floyd theme carries over with the arrangement of this song, but it's quickly shot down. The song is complicated, and can't seem to make up its mind for what it wants to do. Some instances are Iron Maiden tribute, the chorus is driving and powerful, but the weird lapses in and out of "The Wall" era Floyd kind of hurts the vibe. There's also a weird vocal progression that jars with the melody of the song. I don't think I'd ever want to hear this one live. That makes me very, very sad to say. Quite the flaming error guys.
When Skeletons Live
A friend of mine that enjoyed the early leak of the album (he owns the hard copy now, don't worry) kept ranting about how much he loves this song. I gotta say, it's got some really cool guitar work going on. The structure of it doesn't catch me like I really hoped it would though. I can see why he liked it - and I imagine if I listen to it more it might stick with me in the same way too - but I don't think I'm sold on it. Besides that, I hate colloquialisms, and the chorus is built on one. Urgh.
The Black Rainbow
The theme for the past few albums has been a slow, heavy, moody, big finish. "The Light and the Glass," "The Final Cut," and "On the Brink" all set a precedent for "The Black Rainbow," one that's hard to meet. In this regard, it disappoints. It does not stand up to any of the others in the way it should. It's a pretty good jam, and a decent way to end the album, but it lacks the same balls the album started with. Rather than a slow, exploratory piece, it should've been more bombastic. It's very much an atmospheric piece that amplifies the chunk of story it represents, but it's too fucking long to stand as a song. I'm disappointed by this ending.
Songs loved: 4/11 [Broken, Juggernaut, Far, World]
Songs enjoyed: 4/11 [Guns, Nothing, Pearl, Skeletons]
Songs hated: 1/11 [Error]
I am indifferent to "One" (not counting towards the song mark), "Shattered Symphony," and "Black Rainbow." "Shattered Symphony" isn't a wonderful song, but I don't feel ripped off that it's taking up space on the album (as Flaming Error makes me feel right now). "Black Rainbow" isn't bad in itself, but it seems limited in it's use for me.
It's worth buying, but it's very different from most other Coheed albums. If you're a fan of progressive/metal/industrial things, then this album might rub you just right. I'm satisfied with it, but it's only with the promise of other amazing acoustic versions of the songs. "Here We Are Juggernaut"'s acoustic is one of their best unplugged pieces to date (the acoustic versions of "A Favor House Atlantic" and "The Light and the Glass" being it's competition). This also doesn't count the demos and bonus songs in different versions. I'll get to them eventually.