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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Afterman: Descension
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 4 February 2013
The Afterman: Descension is the seventh full-length studio album by the American Progressive band Coheed And Cambria. It was released in 2013, and is the second part of a two-record set alongside 2012's Afterman: Ascension.

If you've just discovered this band and aren't sure what they might sound like, they mix Progressive Rock tendencies and occasional metal sections into a core sound of cheerful, highly melodic alternative rock, never sitting still in one style for long to really sound like anyone but themselves. It's all topped off with fabulously varied and expressive vocals from a distinctive singer with an unbelievably large range that allows him to convey emotion remarkably well.

If you are a new fan interested in the band and want to try this album in particular, I'd recommend that at a minimum you also get yourself a copy of Ascension so as to make sense of the connections that those albums share, and to appreciate the effort that the band went to when deciding to create a double album.

Structurally the album is similar to the one which precedes it. Both albums open up softly with an intro track that sets the story's tone, follow it by an adventurous progressive centerpiece track (`Domino The Destitute' and `Sentry The Defiant'), go on to deliver a main body that provides a mixture of softer more ballad-esque numbers (`The Afterman' and `Iron Fist'), heavy moments (`Vic The Butcher' and `Gravity's Union') and fun (`Goodnight, Fair Lady' and `The Hard Sell'). Additionally, the characters "All Mother" and Sirus still pop up between tracks with spoken dialogue, as they did on Ascension, and the last notes of music here are a callback to the first notes on the previous album.

Within that similarity there is still variety however, for example the opening track on this record becomes a lot louder and more dynamic, and the closer is a much more up-tempo affair in comparison to the one Ascension.

Josh Eppard is still back on the drums with his distinctive playing style and the production job is still in the same style as the previous record, as opposed to the one found on No World For Tomorrow that some fans complained was over-sweet, or the indeed the one on Year Of The Black Rainbow that people said was too weird. The combination of drumming and production styles would appear to suggest that now the band are returning closer to the style of Good Apollo Part 1.

Musically however, the band aren't simply repeating themselves or trying to recreate any one album, even the last one. Yes, there's material littered throughout which is reminiscent of parts of each and every one of their previous albums, but the way that the band have found to mix those elements together has resulted in fresh sounding, interesting material.

They even cover a bit of ground they never have before on the eccentric track `Number City' which has an almost funky, disco sort of feel and mixes electronic sounds, with guitar and vocal tones that the band haven't used since their debut record, as well as wind instruments to create something altogether new for them.

If you care about the band's story side, here's a brief synopsis. If you don't want spoilers skip to the very last paragraph. The story of the first part, Ascension, concerned a scientist called Sirus Amory (title-character of the band's overall Amory Wars concept, which stretches across all their albums as well as some non-musical ventures like a novel, graphic novels and an upcoming movie).

Sirus; alongside his spaceship's/space-suit's Artificial Intelligence, (the "All-Mother"), leaves his wife Miri on a scientific expedition and discovers that a source of energy called The Keywork, guarded by angels called The Prise, which provides power and nutrients for planets in the fictional universe Heaven's Fence, is in fact a grim purgatory for the souls of the dead.

Sirus is accosted there by three malevolent souls; Domino, Holly Wood and an evil military general called Vic, who damage his ship and greatly injures him. Luckily Sirus is rescued by a benevolent soul named Evagria, at which point he realizes he was wrong to hurt his wife by leaving on what now appears to be a suicide mission. With his spaceship destroyed, the world believes Sirus to have been killed. Back on their home planet, a grieving Miri falls in love with a police officer who saves her from a rapist that had interfered with her drink.

Decension carries on that story. Evagria, along with another benevolent soul called Sentry, who had been hanged by Vic for not committing military atrocities during their lives, help Sirus escape the Keywork, imparting knowledge of a plane of existence that is better than the purgatory they're currently in. When Sirus emerges after what appeared to be one week, 547 days have actually passed outside and when he makes his way, mangled, to a space station, where he lies to the scientific community about the nature of the Keywork at the insistence of The Prise who don't want mankind to know the secrets of death and the afterlife.

Sirus then attempts to return to his wife, who is now pregnant with the police officer's baby, but accidentally kills her and the unborn child in a car crash and after both medical recovery and grieving, he attempts to return to the Keywork at great personal risk, to help them pass over to a better afterlife.

Admittedly; if you are a new fan it may be confusing and mightn't work on its own with no context, so do try and pick up Ascension as well. I'd also recommend you try their third album, Good Apollo Tonight I'm Burning Star IV: Volume 1: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness, as it is one of the band's most popular and well-regarded records and contains a lot of their concert-favourite tracks.

Overall; Descension is a good addition to the band's catalogue and if you are an existing fan, there is no question at all, you absolutely should pick up a copy. Its always going to vary with an individual's personal taste whether this is better or worse than any other album or band, some people are always going to argue that a double album would be better edited into single album, and some fans will only ever like the old stuff, but in my opinion The Afterman: Descension is a success and is of a high enough quality to sit proudly alongside Coheed And Cambria's other records without feeling out of place or like a let-down. The mixture of tracks like `Gravity's Union' with stuff like `Iron Fist' is what this band are all about, and Descension adds another interesting selection of tracks to your collection.
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on 18 November 2013
For me Coheed first lost the plot a bit on No World For Tomorrow, it was sound but lacked the killer edge of Good Apollo. That is probably controversial but I am happy to defend that opinion. We all know that Year of the Black Rainbow was a misstep. Musically it was ok but something about the tone and feel of the album was wrong. It was certainly their weakest effort to date. Ascension saw some green shoots but there was a fair amount of weak material on there too. I feared that they might have made a mistake Guns'n'Roses or Red Hot Chili Peppers style by making a double album and not picking out the best tracks form the bunch.

However, when Descension dropped it was both a relief and a huge breath of fresh air. The album is almost entirely quality from start to finish. There is such a massive diversity in Claudio's songwriting on this album, it shows him maturing into a genuinely versatile writer. We know he can do prog-metal better than most but now we know he can write top notch ballads, funky rock-outs and more. It is also genuinely well sequenced, another issue with YotBR. The songs follow one after the other sensibly and build up a narrative lacking since Good Apollo. There is real sense throughout this album of a story developing, using very different musical styles to deliver a variety of moods and feel to the journey which for me works brilliantly.

I would guess that most people are going to respond very differently to this set of songs. Few fans will like all of them, I'm not a huge fan of Number City. However, I totally respect Claudio's approach and his attempt to put together a fascinating suite of songs. I also love the touch of putting the alternate versions of the songs on the end, I am especially taken with the piano version of 2's My Favorite 1, which is a very subtle and melodic song when played on guitar. Even though some of the songs don't, on their own, grab me, the album as a whole works as a sequence of music, as a story and as an artistic statement. It's a metaphorical two-fingers up to the industry and a massive restatement of Coheed's status and capabilities, moving into new and innovative territory at every turn.

It's worth noting that the songs translate wonderfully into the live arena, where all of them stand up to anything among their classic canon, sitting happily alongside A Favor House Atlantic, Welcome Home, Devil In Jersey City, etc. It's not a cast-iron classic, it probably lacks a genuinely classic song which we know they can turn out but it is a fantastic collection of songs and a very welcome return to form for a truly unique and outstanding band. Few possess their versatility and musicality. It's also the first Coheed album I've found myself listening to beginning-to-end since Good Apollo, singing along merrily and then starting over again! More in this vein please Claudio!
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on 1 May 2013
I love C&C and will admit that upfront. They are a 'guilty secret' band that I enjoy even when knowing that the music isn't really that good. In a way they are like the comic which was the inspiration for the music. In other words, not great music, but very enjoyable all the same.

I don't think its any better or worse than the other albums, except for Black Rainbow which I can't get on with. Maybe they were trying too hard to write something more impressive and should have stuck with something easier.

The production is a touch bloated and compressed. It isn't everywhere, but on some of the heavier tracks it can be very wearing.

Songs are everything that C&C are famous for. There are some deviations into new musical territory such as funk and maybe a bit of Muse are found hiding amongst the nine tracks. Claudio sings as well as he ever did. The drumming seems to get better on every album. Josh Eppard is great throughout and the band are as really tight. I saw them live this year and it isn't a studio created precision, these guys are great at what they play and certainly enjoy pleasing the crowd and their recordings retain that enthusiasm.

For a C&C fan, this album is as good as it gets, but as music goes it really isn't breaking any moulds or tripping over any boundaries. They are working well within their envelope and so this effort is as competent as any so far with some tiny surprises in style thrown in.

Not unlike a comic really. Occasionally the art gets some slight overhaul, but you can be sure the story stays largely consistent. Well recommended for fans and even for those looking into the band for the first time.
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on 10 February 2013
Disappointment isn't quite the correct way to describe how I felt for the first half of the Afterman double album by Coheed and Cambria. A stellar effort with some fantastic moments; despite enjoying the album I couldn't quite quell the feeling that this was the bands first album since I'd discovered their music where they hadn't surpassed their previous efforts completely.

Listening to The Afterman: Descension I can only assume that they wanted to save the best for last. From the first listen the album manages to mirror itself with the first half whilst simultaneously transcending it at every turn.

Pretelethal, like the first track from the first half of the album, introduces the album softly. Unlike The Hollow however, it builds into more than just an opener and is fully memorable in its own right.
The album then launches into a plethora of unique and instrumentally, lyrically and vocally rich and distinctive tracks that still maintain a strong thematic synergy. Most of the album is comprised of stand out tracks. Sentry the Defiant, while sounding similar to the bands previous hits, is arguably the pinnacle of this style. Immediately following this is The Hard Sell, which with its smoother riffs, sounds completely fresh and like nothing the band has played before. Other emerging tracks are the Dark Side Of Me and the heaviest track on the album: Gravity's Union, which reverberates with an urgency that suddenly climaxes in the final minutes with possibly my favourite part of any Coheed and Cambria track, a sublime union of swirling guitar work and emotionally charged vocals repeating the final compelling, stirring verse.

In fact, I would describe more than half of the tracks on this album as the best that the band have ever delivered. Descension is a complete misnomer; Coheed and Cambria have ascended once again.
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on 15 March 2013
Usually with double albums the band has all the best tracks on the first disc and the second disc struggles (see: Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie, Biffy Clyro's Opposites) but Coheed have actually done the opposite. Apart from a few tracks, I felt that Ascension was generally a bit flat and lacked any momentum, similar to Year of the Black Rainbow, however Descension is full of meaty guitar riffs for you to sink your teeth into, plus there are some surprisingly gentle moments that show how far the band have developed their song-writing process. Standout track is definitely Dark Side Of Me which I think will become one of their classics.
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on 5 February 2013
Im sure most people will see the first review and go tl;dr so hes a shorter one.

This is the second and final half of The Afterman double album. The first album, Ascension, sounds a lot more like a concept album that this one does. This one sounds a lot more emotional, personal and more mellow which has opened the way for loads of acoustic and piano versions of a few of the songs as bonus tracks over various formats. Of course, anyone that has listened to Ascension will have to check out this album but it also works well on its own as a stand alone album. I would also recommend it to anyone listening to Coheed and Cambria for the first time. I know it took me a long time to get into their older material so this newer easier listening is a good place to start.

I personally like this album a hell of a lot more than Ascension but thats just my opinion. Every song has a different and unique sound which i really enjoy. To be honest it doesnt sound like it has much in common with Ascension other than the underlying story so when you listen to them one after the other they sound like two distinctly different albums instead two halfs of one whole. Im sure a lot of people will think its too different from the Good Apollo C&C but theres always going to be haters.
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on 28 July 2013
The last two releases left me slightly disappointed, can't quite put my finger on 'The Black Rainbow' and the first part of this double set, but it just seemed like a disjointed effort, trying too hard to be slightly different. This album appears to be Coheed and Cambria back to their best, more melody and a greater emphasis on the vocals. it reminds me of the 'Apollo' era. Excellent!
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on 29 October 2013
Long time fan of Coheed and Cambria, and I've never been disappointed by any of their albums. The Afterman is a stunningly good album, my favourite songs being Mothers of Men and Subtraction. The vinyl arrived promptly and in perfect condition. Been trying to collect all the vinyls from Coheed, unfortunately IKSSE:3 is incredibly rare and expensive, but will keep trying.
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on 9 March 2015
One of my favourite Coheed albums. Dark Side of Me is a fantastic song, beautiful and deep and something about it really tugs at my heartstrings
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on 5 March 2013
Great album perfect addition to the Amory wars albums, I love the Acoustic or Stripped versions at the end, nice touch. All in all if you have been a long time Coheed fan you will Love this and if your new to Coheed you will be equally impressed. Cant wait for there next UK tour, seen them last November for the second time and as always they do not disappoint.
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