(Emo + Metal x Butt Rock)/Prog Rock = Just Too Much
Coheed and Cambria are to rock music as Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts are to the gaming community. Nerdy and weird, they’re a little over the top but not in a brazen, flashy kind of way. They’re more so in a no-haircuts, disgustingly decorated bedroom kind of way. The title of this record, their final piece of a prog-rock opera, is a mouthful: Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow. Only Coheed and Cambria fans can appreciate this dramatically epic rock opus.
These boys dwell in dangerous territory, mixing some tough genres to get into, namely prog rock, metal, emo, pop and punk. Pop/punk artisans are regularly booed by all with taste (Sum 41, Fall Out Boy, etc.). Prog rock had its heyday with Rush and Queensryche and the power pop of Queen echoing in Good Apollo had its moment in the ’70s. So how can a band successfully fold these elements into a late ’00s rock record? These Nyack, NY boys give it their all.
Claudio Sanchez, the group’s primary set of pipes, often channels Rush’s Geddy Lee with his high-pitched, warble-y vocals. Unfortunately, he also ends up sounding like an amped-up Rob Thomas. Singles and standouts are apparent: “The Hound (Of Blood and Rank),” “Feathers” and “The Running Free,” are tolerable but forgettable.
The dueling lead guitars, thundering synths, shrill singing and head banging pace are all just a little too much. It’s hard to wrap your head around everything you’re hearing, which is similar to the content. If you haven’t heard previous records in this cycle, you wouldn’t know that this record is about “family, homicide and apocalypse.” You can’t really decipher this from lyrical delivery or song titles either. The last five tracks are a ridiculous series of “The End Complete I – V: The Fall of House Atlantic, Radio Bye Bye, The End Complete, The Road and the Damned, and On the Brink.” No one marvels over rock operas anymore. The Who did it best with Tommy forty years ago. We want singles and records that are cohesive, not records that require listening to four other records and reading the liner notes just to get what’s going on.
Good Apollo is not completely devoid of clarity, but like the dark and stormy skies Coheed and Cambria seem to anticipate, it kind of ruins the day.