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Album Review: Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures by Coheed and Cambria

Prog rock act Coheed and Cambria release their ninth album Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures on 5th October via Roadrunner Records. The album sees the band returning to their sci-fi concept of ‘The Amory Wars’ and its accompanying comic books.

While you don’t need to know what ‘The Amory Wars’ is about, you might want to know. Let us quote Wikipedia; The Amory Wars is set in Heaven’s Fence, a collection of 78 planets held in place by interconnecting beams of energy, known as the Keywork. The first half of the story narrates Coheed Kilgannon and Cambria Kilgannon’s struggle against Wilhelm Ryan, the Supreme Tri-Mage (later referred to as the Archmage). The second half of the story focuses on the heroic journey of their son, messianic Claudio Kilgannon. Over the course of the story, Claudio assumes the mantle of The Crowing, foretold savior of Heaven’s Fence. In the end, he will face the Archmage, absolute ruler of Heaven’s Fence and the one ultimately responsible for the death of Claudio’s family.

Now that that’s out of the way, we can focus on the album proper. The Unheavenly Creatures sees a return to the sound of the Good Apollo years (2005 – 2007). The prog rock, while still being a major part of the band’s sound, is toned down a notch and the instantaneous emo leanings and big hooks are ramped up. Rather than this being a return to form, Coheed and Cambria have always been a good band, it’s a return to the sound that made you first in love with them.

To enjoy Coheed and Cambria it’s best to embrace the grandeur and sprawling rock operas from the start. If it’s a stumbling block, leave it now. If you’re onboard, you’re about to listen to a strong and commanding album.

If you’ve heard any of the singles (‘The Dark Sentencer’, ‘The Gutter’, ‘Unheavenly Creatures’ and ‘Old Flames’) you’ll know what to expect. The first gets the album going with its expansive and heavy guitar work while the latter might just be the most immediate track the band have done to date. On first listen they’re the album’s highlights – mainly due to their familiarity – that is until each one of the 15 tracks seep into your subconsciousness and you fall in love with everyone.

‘Toys’ and ‘Black Sunday’ are both fantastic tracks. The prog-pop of the former is insatiable while the latter revels in intricate guitars and forthright riffs. Elsewhere the frantic energy of ‘True Ugly’ and the explosive prog rock of ‘The Pavilion (A Long Way Back)’ shine bright before the tender closer ‘Lucky Stars’ lays on the emotion. That said, there isn’t a week track amongst the 15 and each one stands out on its own merit.

AD Rating 8/10

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