Coheed and Cambria
1. Keeping The Blade
2. Always & Never
3. Welcome Home
4. Ten Speed (Of God's Blood & Burial)
5. Crossing The Frame
6. Apollo I : The Writing Writer
7. Wake Up
8. The Suffering
9. The Lying Lies & Dirty Secrets Of Miss Erica Court
10. Mother May I
11. The Willing Well I: Fuel For The Feeding End
12. The Willing Well II: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness
13. The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth
14. The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut
A strong runner-up for the Most Grotesquely Overlong Progressive Album and Song Title award for two albums running, Coheed and Cambria finally took the crown from perennial winner Bal-Sagoth this year with this album, their third but number four in a five-volume concept collection including a comic book, whose story line is probably worth mentioning. Of course, I'm certainly not about to get into it here, with all due respect to the band, who have obviously worked a great deal on the whole story line, because concept albums are terminally silly and elaborate stories never add anything to the enjoyment of the music.
Musically, then, what the heck are Cologne and Paprika about? You may characterize their overall sound as a blend of Rush and Yes progressive rock, Cheap Trick power pop, and WASPian arena rock catchiness, with a hint of Zeppelinian pomposity, Black Sabbath riffery, and Sunny Day Real Estate melodicism, which obviously classifies them as classic doom progressive shock power emo. The song structures vary from fairly elaborate progressive rock riffing to power pop à la Cheap Trick, with that meaty, fat, dry Gibson guitar tone throughout. The rhythm section is superbly tight and navigates complex arrangements with grace and aplomb, while the singer/guitarist alternately belts out, coos, GeddyLees and proclaims his introspective, quirky lyrics with a great deal of emotional and vocal range.
The opening songs are ambitious, dark and grandiose, and often come very close to overwhelming cheesiness (complete with "whoa whoa whoa" choruses) without ever crossing over into fondue territory. As was the case with Coffee and Jambalaya's previous album, the record's overall intensity tends to drop off towards the middle with a string of somewhat irritatingly lilting power pop numbers, but the band nicely recovers with a set of cohesive and compelling progressive songs to close the album with a bang.
The overarching story/comic book/concept notwithstanding, this is a very solid album with excellent songs, well thought-out arrangements and strong performances. While not terribly different from the other Cosmic and Cumbersome albums (likely on purpose, given the thematic thread in the band's continuing saga), it's still well worth a listen or two.
Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier
Review date: 11/2005