Album: Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness by Coheed & Cambria
Released: September 20th, 2005
Coheed & Cambria is an American progressive rock band that was formed in 1995 in Nyak, New York and released their first full-length album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, in 2002. Fraught with line-up changes in the mid-late 2000’s, the band currently consists of founding members Claudio Sanchez (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards), Travis Stever (lead guitar, backing vocals), Josh Eppard (drums, keyboards, backing vocals), and bassist Zach Cooper who joined the band in 2011. Coheed & Cambria are known for their use of odd time signatures, concept albums based on a science fiction story by Sanchez, and their rabid fanbase. The band has released eight studio albums; the first seven albums all focus on the Kilgannon family and their role in the war to save the worlds they live on from the evil Tri-mage Wilhelm Ryan, while 2015’s The Color Before the Sun is the only non-concept record. The band returns to the sci-fi concept with their upcoming album, Vaxis – Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures, which will be released on October 5th.
**Spoiler Alert – Story Details Ahead**
The Story and the Songs:
Much like its predecessors, the first track on the album, “Keeping the Blade”, keeps the opening of the album with musical motifs before leading into the soft lullaby of “Always & Never”. This track features children laughing and talking in the background, evoking a youthful innocence that is supplanted by the prog-rock heaviness of the album’s most famous song. “Welcome Home” brings the acoustic guitar along to play the introductory riff before a tom hit bashes the quiet splendor; reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s song, “Kashmir”, “Welcome Home” has become a staple in the band’s live show since its release as a single. “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood & Burial)” tells the story of a ten speed bicycle possessed by a demon and features harmonized guitar parts that wind throughout the verses before a catchy chorus. Bringing a bit more groove into the mix, “Crossing the Frame” describes a character returning home after being away for years to wonder at what could have been with his former love.
“Apollo I: The Writing Writer” is a complex jam with funky bass and intertwined guitar lines that features more studio production and makes reference to another character that is added into the story. One of the more morbid song titles belongs to “Once Upon Your Dead Body”, which is a soft-rock tune (in comparison to the rest of the album); this song allows the pulse to slow down a bit before the love ballad, “Wake Up”. Much like a surge from a defibrillator, the guitar line of “The Suffering” kick-starts the tempo and shows the appeal of Coheed & Cambria’s ability to write complex prog-rock and more simple, pop-punk songs with a classic rock twist. “The Lying Lies & Dirty Secrets of Miss Erica Court” is the regret song of a jilted lover and chugs along with muted guitars before slamming in with a triumphant chorus.
“Mother May I” takes another change of pace with syncopated rhythms and time changes that keeps the pace going forward in spite of its more mellow sensibilities. “The Willing Well I: Fuel for the Feeding End” begins a suite of prog-rock virtuosity with some of the most complex guitar lines and percussion on the album; the backup vocals sing in Spanish, hearkening to Sanchez’s Puerto Rican roots as the song swings through its various movements. “The Willing Well II: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness” references the title of the album, in addition to an allusion to Alice in Wonderland in the lyrics and a more playful introduction that goes into menacing territory by the end of the song. “The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth” calls back to the earlier track, “Apollo I: The Writing Writer”, and uses the same song structure before a reprise of the chord progression from In Keeping Secret of Silent Earth: 3’s song, “Blood Red Summer.” The last track on the album, “The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut”, is inspired by the self-indulgence of 70’s prog-rock and blues bands; each musician is showcased throughout the song and it is a fitting end to an album full of aggression, disdain, and personal woe as the writer must to decide if he will kill off the characters of his story.
The story behind Good Apollo 1 comes from the shattered emotions left in the wake of Sanchez breaking up with his girlfriend. The story in the album splits between Claudio Kilgannon in the world of Heaven’s Fence, and a fictional writer of the story who is going through his own mental breakdown in the real world as the love of his life leaves him. There is a lot of pain in this album and that comes through in the intense musicianship and sometimes graphic lyrics. The real life couple did eventually reconcile, get married, and have a child, but the album will forever be a testament to a rift in their relationship, though neither holds it in too much contempt. The band would soon lose its drummer, Josh Eppard, who quit while in the throes of heroin addiction, and uncertainty became the underlying theme in the band’s future. After the album’s initial release, there was a limited graphic novel release that hoped to explain some of the story in the album, but it was fraught with difficulties, so Sanchez is now releasing the story, co-written with his wife, through his comic imprint which can be found here.
Please enjoy some song recommendations, a song from the album, and check out the band’s social media accounts below!
Song recommendations: “Welcome Home” , “Apollo I: The Writing Writer” , “Mother May I” , “The Willing Well II: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness”
Previously: In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3