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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coheed And Cambria - The Afterman: Ascension
The Afterman: Ascension is the sixth full-length studio album from the unique American band Coheed And Cambria.

If you have never heard the band before, they mix Progressive Rock tendencies such as long conceptual tracks, multiple time signatures, recurring themes, occasional use of keys and electronics etc with occasional heavy sections of heavily distorted...
Published 22 months ago by Gentlegiantprog

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Afterman: Ascension
Coheed and Cambria are back! Two and a half years after the release of the much maligned (unfairly so in my opinion) Year of the Black Rainbow comes the release of their new album, part one of a proposed double album entitled The Afterman: Ascension. Can it live up to fan expectations, or has the story gone too far?

This review is really one for the fans,...
Published 22 months ago by Luke H


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coheed And Cambria - The Afterman: Ascension, 8 Oct 2012
By 
Gentlegiantprog "Kingcrimsonprog" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Afterman: Ascension (Digipak) (Audio CD)
The Afterman: Ascension is the sixth full-length studio album from the unique American band Coheed And Cambria.

If you have never heard the band before, they mix Progressive Rock tendencies such as long conceptual tracks, multiple time signatures, recurring themes, occasional use of keys and electronics etc with occasional heavy sections of heavily distorted low pitched guitars and double-kicks, although the band never go too far with either and mainly tend to exist around a core sound of cheerful melodic alternative rock (that's just a bit more varied and expressive than usual). As such, the band can cultivate a broad audience from Metal fans to Emo fans to Prog fans, and are especially suited to fans of all three.

They also have an incredibly expressive and diverse signer who is most famous for his high-pitched slightly feminine vocals but also has an unbelievably large range of tones and styles and can convey emotion vocally better than almost any of his peers. He is able to display a character's conviction, sadness or pain really effectively which makes for seriously interesting listening.

Like their two Good Apollo albums (which were the band's third and fourth studio albums), The Afterman is a set of two related albums consisting of this 2012 album, Ascension, and 2013's upcoming Descension album, although that being said The Afterman is more truly a double album than the two Apollos were since both parts were written and recorded simultaneously this time.

Like all double albums this inevitably raises the question of whether the band should have just taken the best tracks and made one very good album, and I guess we'll have to wait until 2013 to really find out.

Musically, this particular album covers a few different angles. For example, with the return of drummer Josh Eppard after a two-album absence, there are parts of the record which are fairly reminiscent of the band's earlier work in feel, such as in a lot of the aforementioned `The Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute' and `Goodnight, Fair Lady.'

There are also moments such as `The Key Entity Extraction III: Vic The Butcher' and `Mothers Of Men' which are more reminiscent of the direction that the band went on their previous album Year Of The Black Rainbow as well as some territory that's fairly unexplored for the band at all.

When you get down to it, this isn't necessarily the band's most heavy or energetic album, or indeed particularly filled with ballads and soft songs. It sits somewhere in the middle of the band's musical spectrum, but as long as you just enjoy the music that's there it shouldn't be a problem. Luckily, the music that's there is very good.

Lyrically; Like all of the band's albums the lyrics tell a part of the story of The Amory Wars, a complex multi-generational cross-media Sci-Fi story, set in the fictional universe of Heaven's Fence, that is also illustrated in-part in graphic novels, actual novels, Coffee Table Books, an upcoming movie project with Mark Walburg and in the lyrics of band member's side projects. The Afterman's story takes place around the very beginning of the timeline, before the events chronicled in the band's first four albums and deals with Sirius Amory and his All Mother spaceship (which occasionally talks during the tracks) as well as the background to a few lost souls. It centers around the revelation that the Keyframe is actually powered by the souls of the dead, imprisoning them in a grim afterlife.

In terms of the production job, by Michael Birnbaum, Chris Bittner & the band, the album sounds possibly closest to Good Apollo Part 1. The band's previous two albums were often criticized for their production jobs and with this record, although it may still not please everyone, it seems to be aiming for a more normal sound, not going too weird or too sweet. Its fairly brief in length, but then it is only one half of a double album so that's to be expected.

I have to admit that initially, I was actually a little disappointed by the album, as the pre-released tracks `The Key Entity Extraction I: Domino The Destitute' and its title track `The Afterman' were so absolutely brilliant (right from the off, they became two of my favourite Coheed tracks and they just keep getting better on each listen) that when it came to the rest of the album, nothing else felt of an equal quality. This wouldn't be a problem for anyone who just listens to the record for the first time without hearing anything beforehand though, you'd just get a great record with two obvious highlights. It also has to be said that the feeling of disappointment did go away on repeat listens, as the second half of the album grew on me a lot.

Overall; The Afterman: Ascension is a grower and you should definitely add it to your Coheed collection if you are already a fan. It contains some very strong songs (two of the finest Coheed songs ever in tracks two and three) and covers enough of their different styles to interest fans of almost all the band's eras at least a little bit. If you never heard the band at all, you may want to start your collection elsewhere with some of the more fan-favourite stuff and then move to this once you know you definitely like them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Odd, intense and often exciting, 23 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Afterman: Ascension (Digipak) (Audio CD)
Returning to action after a two year break since 2010's `year of the black rainbow', progressive rock titans Coheed and Cambria are back with a typically ambitious two part epic in the form of `Afterman: Ascension' (to be followed next year by its counterpart `Afterman: Descension'). A nine track voyage into helium voiced progressive rock, employing elements of hardcore, awkward time-signatures and a typically convoluted plot following the Amory Wars, `Afterman' is a triumph of ambition over commercialism, and it is once again remarkable to see a band so thoroughly un-commercial flirting with the mainstream whilst simultaneously refusing to compromise on the oblique musical elements that made them popular in the first place.

Take first single, and the album's second track following a brief introduction, `Key Entity Extraction I Domino The Destitute' which juxtaposes Claudio Sanchez's unusual vocals against a backdrop of furiously awkward time signatures, samples and crunching guitars. At near eight minutes it is a lengthy track that makes utmost use of its duration by flowing through a complex number of changes and moods, the band cleverly developing a key melody that runs through the track despite its depth and obfuscation, and the closing bars are as heavy and exciting a close as you could wish, the track giving way to the rippling title track which bizarrely sits somewhere between U2 and the Flaming Lips. `Mothers of men' sees the band head off in a rockier direction, the opening riff recalling Van Halen before Josh Eppard's insanely convoluted percussion takes the track off in a completely different direction, the verse a wealth of syncopated rhythms and trippy guitars, standing in contrast to the heavier, more straight-forward chorus. It is notable that the band's skill lies largely in making something so intrinsically complicated sound so accessible - the result being that the album is both instantly enjoyable, and yet appreciable in greater depth, the more you take the time to absorb its many nuances.

Perhaps the oddest track on the record (and it has many contenders) is `goodnight fair lady' which is reminiscent of Everclear covering Paul Simon if one can imagine such a colourful cultural collision. It has a bouncy beat, a characteristically energetic delivery and it would make an ideal single with its upbeat melody. `Key Entity Extraction II Hollywood the cracked' gets things back on to an even keel with a smart, grinding guitar riff underpinning an infinitely darker tone that has shades of System of a down and Foo Fighters shot through its bile-strewn make-up. It's evil delivery and atonal riffs make it a personal favourite and even when a star-struck chorus bounces into view it cannot sweeten the tone too much from the earlier, malicious intent. Josh Eppard, meanwhile, takes every opportunity to stake his claim as one of the finest drummers in rock and there are few sticksmen as will fully inventive when it comes to providing the backdrop for such a superficially straightforward rocking number. `Key entity extraction III Vic the butcher' appears out of the reverberating noise and echoing voices that round out its predecessor, the riff spinning around the heavy, almost industrial-sounding drums. It's another highlight, the band sounding more vitriolic, more energetic and more enthused than in some time, the storyline and line-up changes clearly pushing the band to explore the very limits of their not inconsiderable talents. `Key entity extraction IV Evagria the faithful' is, without a doubt, the most unusual song here (alongside `goodnight fair lady'), with its cyclical introduction leading into a vocal that can most easily be compared to Michael Jackson's breathy delivery. It showcases the vast breadth of Coheed's influences, and as the jazzy drums kick in you start to see just how innovative their approach to music making is. The song edges into pure progressive territory as it moves through its various moods, the music as hard to define as the glimmer of light caught from a crystal - shifting and changing every time you try to recapture that original glimpse. The grand finale of this first part (the second half of the story is due out in the February of 2013) is `subtraction' and it sounds, somewhat inconceivably, like a cross between Depeche Mode, Belle and Sebastian and The Eels - and you're left wondering how on earth the band are going to top this album in terms of pure invention.

Coheed and Cambria are that rarest of acts - a band that have carved out their own path in the music industry, scoring major label success with music that is so far removed from concepts of commerciality that it's remarkable it ever crossed into the mainstream. That they have had such a level of success demonstrates both the band's remarkable musicianship and grasp of melody as well as the industry's continual failure to grasp that music fans out there want to be challenged by original, talented artists, not sub-karaoke X factor finalists and it is both refreshing and heartening to see acts such as Coheed and Cambria garner the recognition they deserve for their invaluable contribution to the world of music. Odd, intense and often exciting, `Afterman: Ascension' is a fascinating and intelligent offering from a band who just continue to get better.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does not disappoint., 13 Nov 2012
This review is from: The Afterman: Ascension (Digipak) (Audio CD)
For me the album does not disappoint... at all!

- Reviews of this album saying it is too short, I would say quality prevails over quantity, and the album is not particularly short anyway (although it is the shortest C&C release) in today's market.

I made myself wait for this album, no sneaky peeks or previews for me, and this meant I could go into it and not have any preconceptions. I found myself quickly immersed into a great album with a wide variety of sounds and bizarre time signatures in the great C&C style along with great hooks! The story line for me has taken a few listens to grasp and try to make heads and tails of, but this did not take away from the overall effect of a great listen.

Cannot wait for part two!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Afterman: Ascension, 14 Oct 2012
By 
Luke H (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Afterman: Ascension (Digipak) (Audio CD)
Coheed and Cambria are back! Two and a half years after the release of the much maligned (unfairly so in my opinion) Year of the Black Rainbow comes the release of their new album, part one of a proposed double album entitled The Afterman: Ascension. Can it live up to fan expectations, or has the story gone too far?

This review is really one for the fans, those who know Coheed's prior material and understand the comparisons made. However, I will say that if anyone is a fan of the prog-rock, metal or even emo rock, (as mentioned by the other reviewer), then you'll certainly get a kick out of this.

Ascension kicks off, like every Coheed album before it with an atmospheric instrumental, this one entitled The Hollow. Led mainly by piano, it is a rather haunting and moving piece, setting up the story of Sirius Armory and the tone of the album as rather downbeat and, like YOTBR before it, humourless.

Next follows the albums two best songs. First, we have Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute. The song it's most closely comparable to in their back catalogue is In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3, what with its many tone and rhythm changes across it's seven plus minutes, ranging from frantic and furious, to slow and sly. It's also Claudio's strongest vocal performance on the album, strong and consistent throughout. On the whole, it's a barnstorming effort that sets you up for a ferocious ride across the nine songs.

And then, they take a completely different tack. The following track, The Afterman is a gorgeously atmospheric mix between U2 , what with the guitar echo and reverb, and modern day electronica. The song it's most similar to, or most strongly reminds me of is Far off YOTBR which was actually my favourite song on that album. I just can't overstate how haunting and beautiful it is, with Claudio's whispered vocals mixing hypnotically with the subdued drums and almost symphonic guitar. Coheed at their finest!

The following track Mothers of Men is a decent track which is let down by a feeling of `been there, done that'. It just seems so uniform for the band and almost passionless, that even with an enjoyably sly and sexy main guitar riff it can't really be saved, and I just wish they'd left it on the cutting room floor.

The next track Goodnight Fair Lady is incredibly catchy pop-rock. With a main riff very similar to Velorium Camper: Faint of Heart (Perhaps too similar. Self plagiarism anyone?) and great lyrics reminiscent of Phil Lynott at his folklore/storytelling best, the band display their strength for out and out pop. This is something which I know many fans find slightly irksome, but something which I've always loved. It's not all about seven/eight minute epics, but short, sharp condensed pop.

If Goodnight Fair Lady is this albums Faint of Heart, then the next track Key Entity Extraction II: Holly Wood The Cracked is this albums Al the Killer. The verses are distortion filled, heavy and brutal, with a melodic yet menacing chorus. It's a decent track, but Claudio's often distorted vocals are just horrendous. He tries every trick he's got, from high pitched wail, low guttural screaming, to creepy child-like simper and it just doesn't work.

The following track, Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher is a far superior slice of brutal yet melodic hard rock, with a great vocal delivery from Claudio that doesn't undulate as frustratingly along the scale, and a ferocious rhythm that never lets up. The chorus in particular is fantastic, benefitting from looser productions on the guitar and vocals, which is strange considering this same production style almost kills Holly Wood the Cracked.

Key Entity Extraction IV: Evagria The Faithful is softer, more melodic and symphonic, with the bands seeming newfound love for electronica quite prevalent in the underlying riff. The problem with this track is, is that while beautiful and atmospheric, it never really crescendos into anything particularly epic or satisfying, and rather like previously long tracks like Mother Superior feels like something of a missed opportunity.

The final track, Subtraction, is a strange one. Beautiful, multi-layered vocals married to a soft, electronic underlying through line, it feels like what it is, an intermission between albums one and two, setting you up for the next album while simultaneously playing out this one. The problem is, Ascension isn't really epic or sprawling enough to warrant it, and as such it feels wasted.

Production wise, the album is loose with lots of distorted electronica, as previously mentioned, which makes it most similar to Year of the Black Rainbow. However, sometimes this production is to the album's detriment, because musically it seems to segue between YOTBR and In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3, and for me the two don't really mesh well together.

Along with this, if the band is going to go for heaviness, distortion and the like then they need everyone to be comfortable backing this up. While the loss of Mick Todd is never really felt, as he's always been the bands most anonymous member, the reintroduction of Josh Eppard into the group as drummer is actually to the band's detriment. While occasionally strong, especially on Domino the Destitute and Vic the Butcher, for the most part he just doesn't seem comfortable with this sound. He can't bring the drums to the forefront the way Chris Pennie could on YOTBR, and as such the album loses much of the obviously intended ferocity, and comes across as a bit undercooked. This is nothing against Eppard, who is a perfectly decent drummer who Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever obviously like playing with. It's just that he's not a patch on Pennie.

So, as a whole, how does it rank? It's hard to say. Mainly because it feels very much like part one of two, which is exactly what it is. As such, it seems a bit unfair to judge it too harshly. Make no mistake, this is a good album. Filled with some great epics, ridiculously catchy pop, and haunting and atmospheric electronica it can take its place in the Coheed discography without any real embarrassment.

It's just that ultimately, due to the bands prior work and the high level of expectation they themselves placed upon it, it comes across as slightly underwhelming. At 9 tracks and just thirty nine minutes total length, it feels a little lacking. Like the band couldn't figure out what to squeeze into part one, and as such settled for an uneven middle ground that I can't see really pleasing or displeasing anyone to any extreme. For some bands, that's great. Job done, pat yourself on the back and all that. For Coheed and Cambria however, who have always strived for so much it's slightly frustrating and ultimately, and I can't believe I'm saying this about such a great band, comes across as slightly bland.

Hits: Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute,
The Afterman,
Goodnight, Fair Lady,
Key Entity Extraction III: Vic the Butcher.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not great but far from bad, 17 Oct 2012
By 
C. Wade "OfWolf" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Afterman: Ascension (Digipak) (Audio CD)
For the fans who might have been hoping that this album was far-and-away from "Year of the Black Rainbow", you're going to be disappointed but it definitely is a few steps in the right direction (in my opinion). It's not the classic style of Coheed and Cambria that I fell in love with all those years ago but it seems to want to be.

The first single from the album "Domino the Destitute" is probably the best track off the album. There's no real meat to chew on here, the songs aren't anything too new or exciting from the band. It's not even that long (only 40 minutes compared to previous albums which have been over an hour long) but I'm attributing that to this being one half of a whole. I'm hoping the second half (Descention) will hold some of the classic riffs and seamless song writing that we got in their older albums

Worth buying, if you've liked their previous albums. If this is your first Coheed and Cambria album I'd suggest starting with something else such as "Keeping secrets" or "Fear Through the Eyes of Madness"
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The Afterman: Ascension (Digipak)
The Afterman: Ascension (Digipak) by Coheed and Cambria (Audio CD - 2012)
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