WGLS-FM Rock Director Matt McCourt checks in with his thoughts on Coheed & Cambria including their latest album, The Color Before the Sun.
Coheed & Cambria has a very unique sound. If someone listened to C&C, they could instantly tell you if one of their songs was playing. There aren’t many bands that have a remotely similar sound. Multiple factors go into what makes a Coheed & Cambria song specific to them. It may come from Sanchez’s high-pitched singing voice, or the pattern of the song. Their newest album, The Color Before the Sun, shows C&C turning away from their uniqueness and going to something entirely different.
What did they sound like before?
• The Second Stage Turbine Blade
Looking back on Coheed & Cambria’s seven other albums (not including live albums) we can hear C&C progress through each album. On The Second Stage Turbine Blade, the album has a gritty feel to it. In a lot of bands, you can get that feeling with a first album. Raw is a perfect word to describe it. They layer their songs and catch attention with Sanchez’s voice. They have that perfect blend of odd and rockers that define them as Coheed & Cambria.
• Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow
C&C continue to rock. They continue on the path of using their guitar prowess to their advantage. They break out epic solos and play back and forth between rhythm and lead guitar. They refined their production and continued with making harmonious songs. They continue to tell the story of Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon of Heaven’s Fence. They are established as a great rock band with a sound only they could produce.
How different do they sound now?
Here’s the great part:
Coheed & Cambria tried something different. They wrote from a different style and created something they haven’t before. The songs have very deep lyrics with an immediate intimacy feel. They open up with high energy, which sounds great when first listening to the album. Then the album begins to open up to many different areas. From high energy, to a melancholy vibe, to sounds from their first album with fuzzy riffs and that all-around distorted feel. There’s something different going on with most of the songs. It’s not just an album that was meant to make you feel one way, it’s meant to wander. That’s something not often heard. Since the album is based on a more personal experience with Sanchez, getting drawn into the lyrics is very easy. There’s a very realistic feel that wasn’t there in previous albums.
Here’s the sad part:
We saw the end of The Armory Wars saga with their last album. The Color Before the Sun is an album with a more personal feeling. Sanchez lets us look into his life. While writing the album, Sanchez underwent a substantial amount of changes. These changes led him to write their album a bit differently.
Coheed & Cambria always combined multiple genres to create their music. From those genres, the pop aspect is heard far more than others. There are more catchy riffs, developed patterns, and more ethereal effects added in. A new C&C album offered something that wasn’t heard or used before. It felt creative and worked on. While listening to The Color Before the Sun, there are moments that have a run-of-the-mill sound that someone else has already done. Even a few songs can bleed together on this album. They’ve lost the epic portions of their music. They’ve swapped the magnificence of their songs for a water-downed feel instead.
What does that have to do with a decline in music?
Coheed & Cambria doesn’t have the best name recognition. While they may deserve it, their music was reserved for those who appreciate how different they were, while making phenomenal music.
The album added different aspects of music that appeal to a much wider audience. Breaking out from their normal, not normal, music to create The Color Before the Sun leaves us to wonder; if they were willing to generalize their sound, will others follow? Have the Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, and AC/DC continued to trail blaze with their newer albums like they did before? We never want to see the bands we idolize and love “sell-out” or change their sound we fell in love with. It almost becomes natural to see this happen in bands who put out a lot of albums.
It’s always a catch 22. When bands try to create a new sound different from catchy pop music, they are almost always wrote off for acting different. If they try to generalize and appeal to a different or more listeners, they are criticized or mocked more often than not.
We would love to see Coheed & Cambria get more attention and build a larger fan base. While their album has changed, it doesn’t define them what move forward with. Who knows what we will see from them in the next album. C&C has showed they can move anywhere the spectrum. It’s a skill not many artists have. We’ll hopefully see their ability put to good use in the next album.
You can catch The Bonus Stage with Matt McCourt every Wednesday evening from 9-11 p.m. on Rowan Radio 89.7 WGLS-FM and online at wgls.rowan.edu.