Coheed and Cambria are one of those bands who are often taken for granted. Having been an active since 1995 and been releasing albums since 2002, they have almost always been there and it’s sometimes easy to forget just how good they are. A couple of middling albums haven’t helped their cause and bring us to the here and now with The Color Before the Sun, their first album to move away from The Amory Wars storyline. Instead, it finds lead singer and guitarist Claudio Sanchez facing fatherhood and the whole world of responsibilities that come with that. It just happens to also be the best thing they’ve done in years.
‘Island’ starts with the sound of a train arriving at a station before lifting off and dragging the listener along with it. Sanchez’s vocals have always been great, but here they sound life-affirming. A huge chorus later and it would take a cold person to not have a silly grin plastered across the face. It’s not until the end of the track that discordance breaks in as a jarring riff closes things out and blends seamlessly into ‘Island’. A darker and more aggressive track, it doesn’t stop Coheed still hitting one of those huge choruses.
From there it’s all you can do to hold on as Coheed pull you into their world and take you on a journey. Whether it’s the gentle melancholy of ‘Colors’, which is tinged with just a shadow of hope. Or the over the top rock and roll of ‘Atlas’, Coheed are on top form and this album feels alive. Nothing says that more than ‘Here to Mars’. A love song, lyrics like ‘honey it’s in the stars and you’re my everything from here to Mars’ could have been ridiculous and cheesy in the hands of someone else. Here Sanchez imbues them with such emotion that they feel vital and true, rather than a bit lame.
It’s not all over the top extravagance though as ‘The Audience’ is filled with a darkness which creeps into the lyrics. ‘I’m the lie you use’ declares Sanchez and the song wheedles its way into your head. It’s just another twist in the tale that is The Color Before the Sun. This is an album that should be listened to as exactly that, an album. It tells a story and everything flows into the next. The truth is that it’s so good that you’d be mad to turn it off after you’d put it on, but it’s all the more appreciated if it’s listened to as what it is.
To be perfectly honest one of the people that has taken Coheed and Cambria for granted is me. They’ve been a band I’ve always liked, but to whom I’ve never really given my all. This is the album that changes that. The Color Before the Sun has rocketed up my album of the year list and it is a pure joy to listen to from start to finish. As ‘Peace to the Mountain’ eases you out, it’s acoustic guitar lulling you along with it, you can’t help but get excited to go back to the start and listen to it all over again. In fact, I might just go and do that now.