Coheed and Cambria have built a career on modern progressive music mixed with pop punk elements that meant that you didn’t have to dig into the over arching concepts that span albums if you don’t want to.
As a lost and wandering Star Wars nerd, I have sung the praises of this band since I first discovered them on their second album. They were doing something different to anyone at the time and the universe created around it all just helped wrap it all up. The only real mis-step or curiosity in their career coming on the directionless and concept bereft The Colour Before the Sun’ album. It wasn’t without a couple of strong tracks, but too much felt thrown together too quickly to show a growth of the band that wasn’t required and didn’t suit the foundations that so many felt they had built upon.
A Window of the Waking Mind plays to those strengths with experimentation in synth electronica and pitch-shifted vocals across the middle of the album. Barely restrained from going off course and on early listens feels unnecessary and uncoordinated at times. As a band they have always succeeded in layering the listener experience, and this album is the most in depth and layered they have been musically, requiring repeated listens before it all starts to unwrap and show its beauty.
It all starts to go a little twisted when A Disappearing Act comes thudding out with an electro pop beat and keyboards. This change in musical character continues into its follow up Love Murder One and hovers through entire mid section of the album, with the exception of the straight ahead pop punk snarl of The Liar’s Club a track that starts with more experimentation before just ripping in and getting down and dirty.
As for genuine highlights, the opening salvo from the cinematic introduction to Shoulders is some of the best work the band has ever done, particularly drummer Josh Eppard as he throws in all manner of drum fills and double kick to keep the music as engrossing as the story that is being told. But the album truly comes to a head with the closing three tracks, closing out this chapter of the Vaxis saga in a way more grandiose than even this band have managed before, and vocalist/ideas man Claudio Sanchez has thrived his entire career on grand vision and even grander storytelling.
I don’t want to ruin it with the garbled written word of a numpty like myself, suffice to say if you are a fan of the band this will have you reaching for your best headphones to get even more engrossed in the music. If you aren’t yet or a fan, or are only aware of the band for some of their larger ‘hits’ the final three tracks on display here are everything that make this band as great as they are.
Look, let me be brutally honest. When I first heard this album, I felt it could do without the experimentation in the middle, but in the course of another couple of listens it just clicked, originally my perception of this album was going to mean a lot lower mark, make sure you give it a few spins to click, when it does it becomes possibly the best album ever by the band.
1. The Embers of Fire
2. Beautiful Losers
5. A Disappearing Act
6. Love Murder One
8. The Liars Club
9. Bad Man
10. Our Love
11. Ladders of Supremacy
12. Rise, Naianasha (Cut the Cord)
13. Window of the Waking Mind