Any reviewer with an ounce of class could easily get through a review of a Coheed & Cambria album without resorting to cheap shots at the lead singer’s appearance. Luckily for you, I don’t have an ounce of class, so not only will I resort to it, I’ll start with it. If you haven’t seen him, imagine a cross between E.T. and Rain Pryor. Or how about this: imagine Buckwheat getting really surprised, but then it starts to rain and his hair gets wet on top and settles into a horrible football shape. The worst part of it is that it seems to be intentional: he recognized his own capacity to have the worst hairdo in all the vastness of creation and he seized it and harnessed it and made it his own, and now all the sane people in the world are left agape, scratching our heads. I don’t mean scratching our heads in confusion, either. You get itchy just looking at that hair.
I’d call his haircut a joke, but it’s too malicious to be a joke. It’s a deliberate act of pure antisocial cruelty.
Claudio Sanchez’s yearning to shock and disgust the populace by cultivating and magnifying his worst traits doesn’t end at his hair, unfortunately. Coheed & Cambria’s music itself is a horrible calculation. It’s clearly a product of pure spite, an ugly distillation of Sanchez’s hatred of art. Music this bad isn’t stumbled upon accidentally. Limp Bizkit’s music is accidentally bad: it’s clumsy, stupid, dull and ugly. Coheed & Cambria know what they’re doing, and they’re up to something far more sinister: they have deliberately combined all of rock and roll’s worst traits, all of its most horrible, nauseating excess, and turned it into something so patently awful that, of course, every nerd on the internet loves it.
It’s a scientific fact that emo is the world’s queerest music. No, that’s not just my opinion. It’s empirical. You can pull out your oscilloscope, your Bunsen burner, your Jacob’s ladder, whatever. Run emo through it, and it’ll turn pink. It’s also a scientific fact that metal is the world’s most socially awkward music. Listening to metal means having absolutely no idea what’s cool. Metal is a guy in a faded dragon t-shirt drawing pictures of hot barbarian babes on his binder. Metal is trying to attract girls by having swordfights on the quad with PVC pipes wrapped in duct tape.
Furthermore, it is beyond dispute that prog-rock is the nerdiest music in the world. Prog-rock is all about geeks writing computer programs to settle the Neil Peart vs. Mike Portnoy debate. Prog-rock bands are so desperate to be high art that they’re content to sidestep art altogether, resulting in fat guys in pillbox hats playing ten-minute solos on fourteen-string basses. Prog-rock is an elaborate, terrified denial of the fundamental rock and roll fact that no matter how virtuosic and sophisticated a band gets, some junior-high dropout could step up with a guitar with four broken strings and play a song with enough soul to blow them out of the water forever.
Call me paranoid, but I don’t think anyone could be stupid enough to combine emo, metal and prog-rock accidentally. It’s too plainly apparent that the result of the union would be the most ungodly abomination ever wrought on mankind. Coheed & Cambria are up to something. Maybe they’re trying to destroy music, maybe they’re some kind of elaborate performance art piece to demonstrate how stupid American rock fans are, or maybe they just enjoy making sane people cringe.
To look for clues into their nefarious purpose, I’ve undertaken the horrible task of listening to their latest album, 2005’s “Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness.” It’s a terrifying prospect. I was ready to give up halfway through reading the title. Let’s see if I can slog through the prog.
Track 1: Keeping the Blade
Awesome, the first half of this track is reminiscent of the theme song from Unsolved Mysteries, and we all know that Robert Stack was The Boss. Just when I’m getting into it, the track quietly slips into a coma and turns into a repetitive, featherweight “hey guys, we hired a string quartet” arrangement. The good news, however, is that there hasn’t been any singing yet. Okay, three minutes down, nine hundred to go.
Track 2: Always and Never
Ooh, a jolly little lilting acoustic guitar bit. This song has a vagina. Hey, that reminds me, I’ve mentioned the singer’s hair, but I haven’t gotten around to pointing out that thing that really puts him in a class by himself: his vagina. Uh, wait, I mean: his voice. He makes Geddy Lee sound like James Hetfield. He sounds like a little girl who got kicked in the nuts.
Here he treats us to a dorky little lullaby about beautiful children laughing and shit, BUT LO! He turns it around at the end and starts talking about killing. You see, this means that there is depth to the song, because there is the surface level where he’s sighing and squealing like an adorable little infant fairy princess, and then there is the deeper level where he’s in a “grown up” band and he has a little beard and stuff (which means he has to get all serious and talk about killing). Magnificent.
Track 3: Welcome Home
What have we here? The theme from Tetris! More precisely, it’s basically the theme from Tetris, but with enough modification that they can pull a Vanilla Ice and say “no, no, it’s not the theme from Tetris at all, the theme from Tetris goes ‘doo doodle doodle doo, dootle doo doo,’ and our song goes ‘doo doodle doo, doodle doo doo doo.’” But anyway, you’ll forget about the Tetris thing soon enough, because the song eventually segues clumsily into the riff from Kashmir (“no, no, the riff from Kashmir goes ‘duh nuh nuh, duh nuh nuh…’”).
But you’ll forget about that, too, because you’ll spend six minutes trying to figure out just what the fuck is going on with this song, and then it’ll be over. It is a complete mess with no tune and no direction, alternating haphazardly between filched riffs and dorky Zakk Wylde flourishes and never getting anywhere. How balefully crappy does a band have to be to combine the tune from Tetris and the riff from Kashmir and totally fuck it up? More evidence to support my thesis that these guys are crappy out of intentional malfeasance.
Track 4: Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)
Uh oh, bless their little hearts, they’re trying to rock again. The good news is that this time they pick a melody and stick to it, unlike the ugly tilt-a-whirl that was the last track. But boy howdy, the singer’s voice sounds weird at the beginning of this track, like some government experiment into riot control using sound frequencies that make you lose control of your bowels. I’m not going to lie, my heart’s not really in listening closely to fifteen Coheed & Cambria songs in a row, so the fact that this track slipped by pretty much unnoticed didn’t present a big problem for me. What am I supposed to do, go back and listen to it again? Fine, but only if I get paid overtime.
Track 5: Crossing the Frame
At first I almost felt relieved that this track was going a little easier on the prog-metal, but then I remembered what was hiding inside the metal: emo! I feel like I spent the last ten minutes prying open a treasure chest made out of hardened barf and finding that it was filled with bricks of poop.
Okay, let’s skip a few boring ones so this miserable thing doesn’t get too long. Do you people have any idea how long this record is?
Track 8: Wake Up
The only good thing about pop-metal was power ballads. Not even the biggest snob in the world could deny the bizarre appeal of songs like “Home Sweet Home” and “I Remember You.” Come to think of it, I am the biggest snob in the world, so that’s straight from the horse’s mouth. Something about those songs managed to hit exactly the right balance of stupidity and really really stupid stupidity, ensuring that you’ll be singing along with them at the top of your lungs whenever they come on the radio.
That was just a preamble to explain and excuse the fact that I’m basically saying “this song would be way better if Motley Crue had written it.” The two types of acceptable ballads in this world are good ballads and MONSTER BALLADS. Since this falls fall short of the former and doesn’t even attempt the latter, what we’re left with is just a boring, stupid, song in which a hideous yeti/chipmunk hybrid whines his heart out over a bed of cloying strings.
Track 9: The Suffering
As I pointed out earlier, this song has a video featuring centaurs and mermaids and Pegasuseses and shit. One might be tempted to say “oh, but come on, that must have been an ironic, tongue-in-cheek joke kinda thing.” Maybe I would have been inclined to agree if I didn’t know better.
Get this: we’re dealing with a fucking sci-fi concept album here. Did you read the title of the CD? Here, read the title of the fucking CD. It’s called “Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness.” It’s not even just part four of a goddamn four-part concept album. It’s part one of part four. If these assholes were putting centaurs and shit in their video for the purposes of irony, it’s too bad for them. They’ve blown their credibility to the point where I pretty much have to take all the stupid shit they do at face value.
Here’s how it is: either Coheed & Cambria are sinister Dadaist anti-art crusaders bent on destroying rock from the inside, or they put mermaids and centaurs and tentacle monsters in their video because they earnestly thought it would be cool. Pick one. They’re either evil or they’re huge idiot nerds.
Hey, here’s something I don’t get: all new CDs cost pretty much the same amount, right? In fact, many fine older albums get price reductions down to ten bucks or so. So my point is, Coheed & Cambria records are no cheaper than good records. I could almost understand listening to a song like “The Suffering” if it only cost like two bucks to buy the CD: “I’d love to listen to good music, but who can afford it?” People are basically ripping themselves off.
Track 10: The Lying Lies & Dirty Secrets of Miss Erica Court
Filler like this doesn’t just hurt consumers. It also hurts hard-working internet comedy music assholes like me, who have to spend three extra minutes listening to boring music just because some hirsute squeaky-toy and his band of jolly nerds didn’t exercise enough internal quality control to stick this lame piece of shit on a b-side or something.
And I bet making the record three minutes longer for no reason hurts CD manufacturing plants, whose equipment burns out three minutes sooner because of worthless tracks like this, thereby ruining the American economy. Let’s all file a class-action suit.
Okay, let’s skip ahead a little.
Track 12: The Willing Well I: Fuel For The Feeding End
Okay, here’s part one of a four-part movement inside a record that’s part one of a two-part series that represents part four of a four-part series. Here goes part one of my four-part review:
I: This record is a festering pile of horrible masturbatory pap…
Track 13: The Willing Well II: From Fear Through The Eyes of Madness
II: …and if you are a fan of Coheed & Cambria, I can say with the utmost confidence that you are a bona-fide tin-eared nerd with absolutely no concept of…
Track 14: The Willing Well III: Apollo II Telling The Truth
III: …what makes music good or bad, evidenced by the fact that you are simultaneously listening to the three lamest, dorkiest, and most artistically bankrupt genres of music ever invented, all at the same time, coagulated and…
Track 15: The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut
IV: …mashed together into a sickening, putrid sludge of pretentiousness and idiocy by a group of people who are either too stupid to know the abominable sins they are committing against the art of music or who are evil enough to willfully package and sell what they know to be the ultimate test of consumer stupidity. Either way, you fail.
If you would like to send a testimonial about how this review cured you of your destructive, stupid habit of listening to Coheed & Cambria, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected].
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