By Mark Jenkins
Friday, February 1, 2013
The second half of a concept album, “The Afterman: Descension” may not be the ideal introduction to Coheed and Cambria. The New York quartet’s mastermind, singer-guitarist Claudio Sanchez, has journeyed far into the plot of his sci-fi epic as told through the band’s albums, which have also spawned comic books and a novel.
Yet the music is as accessible as its story is involved. No inside knowledge is required to get these songs, even ones with titles as arcane as “Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant.”
Sanchez is a devotee of early-1970s progressive rock, whose influence is evident on this album and its predecessor, “The Afterman: Ascension.” Coheed and Cambria doesn’t indulge, however, in 20-minute instrumentals or pseudo-classical compositions. Its intergalactic saga is presented in succinct tunes that blend metal and arena rock. The band even ventures into funk (”Number City”) and is unafraid of such pop touches as the “oh-oh-oh” chorus that lifts “The Dark Side of Me.”
Occasionally, a computer voice enters to advance the narrative. Despite such cues, the tale remains a little opaque, but it ends with a classic payoff: an affirmation of love. The climactic “2’s My Favorite 1” is catchy and direct, and its sentiments don’t require a Klingon-English dictionary for translation.