man your battle stations

There’s nothing like a good face-melting, and all you have to do to get one is attend a Coheed & Cambria show. On November 17, 2007, I did just that at Austin’s Waterloo Park.

Touring in support of their most recent album, No World For Tomorrow, the boys served up an amazing and lengthy set that made standing in the rain and sitting in the mud completely worth it.

Due to their excellent musicianship, Coheed & Cambria will always be good. What makes them great is their showmanship and connection to their fans. Their music is naturally theatrical, so they don’t need to rely on big sets or props to convey a sense of grandeur. They don’t shy from their hits and play a fairly equal mix of material from all of their albums. Though they remain stoically in character for the most part, occasionally a genuine smile will slip – often in conjunction with the crowd cheering the epic nature of a solo or Claudio’s coiffure.

Adding to the experience of seeing Co&Ca live is the sense of community. Bringing in the likes of everyone from cute hipster girls to greasy, D&D-playing metal kids, the band unites a wide cross-section of people for one night to raise their fists and half-shout, half-sing “man your own jackhammer, man your battle stations” to spine-tingling effect and stand rapt for a twenty-minute rendition of “The Final Cut”. This is not something every band on the planet can accomplish.

Also on the bill were The Fall of Troy and Clutch. The Fall of Troy offered finger-tapping and head-banging to songs that fell along the metal/hardcore continuum with an occasional nod to pop-punk, while Clutch played blues-infused rock that leaned a little too far toward rap-rock vocals for my liking. The band does get extra points, though,  for handling a massive PA failure that cut their set short with grace.

Find out more about the bands: Coheed & Cambria | Clutch | The Fall of Troy

the world is burning to the sound of the suffering

The apocalypse has never sounded so good.

On their fourth album No World For Tomorrow, Coheed & Cambria bring their epic story to a close – a story so epic I can’t even begin to explain due to its intense nerdiness and lack of commitment on my part to follow it all. For an album by album synopsis, click here. Basically, this album is about the end of the world/civilization.

Full of theater and spectacle, the album opens with acoustic guitar and thunder-like crashes, giving way to the fist-raising call to arms that is “No World For Tomorrow”.

Seventies and eighties influences dominate the early tracks, but are blown away by the beautifully composed “Mother Superior” that layers strings and acoustic guitars against the pairing of bass and piano.

Most outstanding is the album’s (and story’s) coda, a five part piece collectively known as The End Complete. A chorus, classical guitar, and ominous feel paint “The Fall of House Atlantic”, and “Radio Bye Bye” is one of the catchiest songs to come from Coheed & Cambria. As the undead take over (I warned you this was nerdy), a lament is heard in “The Road and The Damned”.

“On the Brink” wraps things up in a multi-movement piece that ranges from an almost jazzy quality to an echo of the theme from “The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut” – where the band last left us on Good Apollo. The track also features a new, soulful tone for vocalist Claudio Sanchez not heard in previous releases.

Though this album marks the end of the story, fans can look forward to the next release, which chronicles the beginning of the Coheed & Cambria epic and prequels the band’s first release, Second Stage Turbine Blade. That is, of course, provided the band does not break up before then. Prior to the making of No World For Tomorrow, two members of the band left. Bassist Michael Todd returned for the recording and has rejoined the band, but drummer Josh Eppard has been replaced. Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins filled in during recording, and Chris Pennie (formerly of Dillinger Escape Plan) has now joined as a permanent member of the group.

No World For Tomorrow drops 10/23/07.

You can view the official album site here.