When it comes to concept albums, few have managed to capture an audience the way NY’s Coheed and Cambria has with their science fiction stories known as The Amory Wars Saga. From comic books and games to a major motion picture (currently in the developmental stages), this tale has both mystified and captivated its audience for nearly 15 years through 7 albums of material. This concept has been better received than most concept albums in the history of music so it’s not hard to see why it works so well. When the band announced that their 8th studio album The Color Before the Sun would be their first ever non-conceptual album, the world was instantly shocked and the skepticism began. However, it was clear when the lead single “You Got Spirit, Kid” hit the airwaves that they knew what they were doing. Sparked by a mutual interest within the band, several life changes in vocalist Claudio Sanchez’s world (including their birth of his first child, Atlas) and a general interest in doing something different… this masterpiece was born. With the release of the lead single, we heard a more upbeat, poppy side of the band, shrouded in a hint of lyrical sarcasm from Sanchez. Fans immediately began to forget that TCBTS wasn’t a concept album and focused on how amazing the band sounds as a whole. Not only does The Color Before the Sun focus on subjects more personal to Sanchez, it shows an incredible maturity within the band. After years of playing nothing but The Amory Wars material, you can tell they had a lot of fun recording this album and it features a renewed, re-energized type of sound. In addition, Sanchez sounds so much happier writing about his current happenings in life and even wrote a song dedicated to his son, “Atlas” and his feelings on leaving his family home during tour.
The album opens up with “Island,” which is a song Sanchez wrote about how much he was beginning to hate living in New York, coming home to a tiny apartment and the cost of living to just remain penniless in the end. In that spirit, he decided to move to Jersey with his wife and start anew. This lead to a feeling of rejuvenation in Sanchez and, by extension, the rest of the band. From the beginning of this track until the end of the album, you hear a rejuvenated, younger-sounding version of Co&Ca which leads to a much more enjoyable listen. Including, what I can only assume, is the sounds of the New York subway system, this track really kicks it up a notch. You can feel Sanchez’s distaste for the situation he was in and how much happier he was when he moved. “Where’s my life-saver, when I’m screaming danger? I just can’t stay any longer…” he sings, a plea for the new start he so desperately craves. This track has an upbeat sound, a pretty steady tempo and an overall feeling of hope. It’s one of Co&Ca’s strongest opening tracks in awhile.
One of my favorite tracks on the album, partly to the fact that I’m a father, is “Atlas.” If you are lucky enough to follow Coheed on their YouTube channel… it’s very likely you may have heard the demo version of this track. This track is about Sanchez’s feelings of being a father, how he feels about being a touring musician, leaving his family behind and how nothing will ever take Atlas’ place in his heart. It’s extremely upbeat but carries a huge emotional weight on it as well. It focuses on how much your life rapidly changes with the arrival of a child. Lyrically, instrumentally and delivery wise… this is one of the strongest tracks on the album, without a doubt. “So sleep tight, little Atlas. Cuz when your daddy goes off, just you know, that you’re the weight of his anchor, the love that is guiding him home!” Claudio sings with a sense of divine pride.
Another really strong track is the song he, undoubtedly, wrote about his wife Chondra Echert-Sanchez called “Here to Mars.” It’s a track about a man who has lost his way in life, finds himself in the presence of his true love. It’s the ultimate testament to the fact that, no matter the weather, true love can brave any storm. Mistakes were made, Sanchez lost the light within himself and became someone he never wanted to be (much like it’s predecessor “Eraser”) but how he was given a second chance to prove to her that he could be the man she fell in love with. This track has a pretty melancholy feel to it but is, overall, designed to show you that true love can make it through anything. Plus, you can’t deny how amazingly groovy that bass line is!
“You Got Spirit, Kid” – the track that introduced us to this new version of Co&Ca. Laced with lyrical sarcasm from Sanchez, a playful, fun tone throughout and a strong message. This track is aimed at the kids who have felt outcast in life, the ones who are constantly bullied and talked down to. It’s a cry out to those who are causing this grief that, though you may seem popular today, in the end… no one will know your name. The ones who are outcast tend to strive more towards their goals than the ones who constantly put others down. It’s way of saying “bully me, shame me… but in the end “nobody gives a fuck who you are.” Once high school is over, your popularity and status matter not. It’s what you do with your life, the impact you make on the world in general, that will be remembered. Karma is spiteful and she tends to take a bite out of those who think they’re bigger than others.
While many who have heard the album seem to say that “Colors” is the weakest track on the album, I highly disagree with that. While it feels less like a Coheed and Cambria track and more like a stripped down track from one of Sanchez’s side projects, The Prize Fighter Inferno, it has no less impact. In fact, the slower nature of the track and the build-up it has make it one of the stronger tracks in the larger scope of things. This track is a take on how quickly life can pass you by. You should live each day like it’s your last, do the things you love and never have regrets. After all, you never know when the breath you take will be your last. This track will have a strong emotional attachment to anyone who has ever felt alone in the world. Let go of your worries and your cares, just live.. you’ll be able to enjoy the “colors” more this way.
The final track on the album, “Peace On the Mountain” is a beautiful ending to the album. This track has an incredible build-up from an acoustically led, melancholy vibe to a more upbeat, indie rock vibe. This is a track about hitting rock bottom, seemingly in a relationship. It’s a realization that nothing can be done to fix the mess that’s been made, living with your mistakes and letting go before it gets any worse. “Peace to the mountain, Girl, I’m gonna go go.” If you’ve ever struggled in a relationship… you’ll definitely connect with this track. It ends with a full orchestra, giving a sense of being free.
The Color Before the Sun may be the most diverse album that Coheed and Cambria have ever written, even despite the fact that it’s their first non-conceptual release. Whether you enjoy their more upbeat sound, the tear-jerking, soaring choruses we’ve come to know or want something completely different… this album will appeal to any fan. They’ve proven that they are more than just a concept band, that they can write something different and still manage to keep true to who they are. Indeed, this is the most they’ve sounded like “Coheed” in awhile! It’s a reminder that change can be a beautiful thing, regardless of the circumstances. For many different reasons, The Color Before the Sun has become one of my favorite releases of 2015, might just be their best release to date and will certainly top some album of the year charts! I’m keen to see how the first week sales go for them on this one but, in any case, be sure to pick up your copy of The Color Before the Sun out on Friday, October 16th, via 300 Entertainment!
Coheed and Cambria is:
Claudio Sanchez – Vocals, Guitar
Travis Stever – Guitar
Josh Eppard– Drums
Zach Cooper – Bass