COHEED AND CAMBRIA – Vaxis Act 1 : The Unheavenly Creatures (2018)
COHEED AND CAMBRIA have announced details of their long awaited new album and Roadrunner Records debut, ”Vaxis Act 1 : The Unheavenly Creatures“. The sprawling fifteen track, self-produced epic finds Coheed and Cambria returning to the conceptual narrative of The Amory Wars.
While almost all of Coheed‘s output of the past decade has come in varying degrees of good, this new saga starter ”Vaxis Act 1 : The Unheavenly Creatures” is the first in over a decade to be truly great, and the first in as many years to be a legitimate year-end list contender.
As Coheed and Cambria‘s ninth LP, ”Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures” is something of a late-career triumph. It sees the band returning to their five-years-dormant sci-fi concept with renewed, youthful vigor, but what makes Creatures a truly standout release are the subtle intricacies of each track’s instrumentation.
Just as with Coheed‘s best albums, songs are packed with dense sub-layers of sprawling lead riffs, smart harmonies and melodic flourishes that make for immensely rewarding listening experiences for headphone users.
Meanwhile, towering, endlessly catchy refrains ensure an utterly addictive record, even when simply taken at face value. This marriage of micro detail and macro excess has been sorely missing from the band’s records for a long time, and breathes new life into an aging act.
C&C’s bolstered compositional initiative could not have asked for a better spread of tracks with which to spread its legs. In similar fashion to Coheed’s pair of Afterman records, Creatures is borderline experimental in its willingness to explore every corner of the band’s back catalog and beyond.
While nothing here is quite as “out there” as The Afterman: Descension’s quirky “Number City,” there are plenty of surprises. The doomy, dreamlike, Boris-esque intro to “Toys” and the crushing, spellbinding atmosphere of “Queen of the Dark” showcase the band at their heaviest.
Elsewhere, the unexpected tonal shifts brought by the monumentally cathartic climaxes of “Black Sunday” and “The Gutter” make for some of the most engaging songwriting decisions Coheed has ever penned.
”Vaxis Act 1 : The Unheavenly Creatures” is an absolute mammoth of a record at nearly eighty minutes, and while part of me desires to extract a cut or two from its tracklist, there are truly no tracks I could nix without also losing at least a couple of fantastic moments.
This is a pure gravitational force of melodic and instrumentally engaging hard rock, wrapped up in what may just be Coheed And Cambria’s most progressive compositions to date and anchored by Claudio Sanchez’s most dynamic work of the band’s recent output.
For longtime fans, this record is nothing short of a revelation; for open-minded metal fans who are second guessing their decision to never give Coheed the time of day, it might even make for an excellent jumping off point.
01 – Prologue
02 – The Dark Sentencer
03 – Unheavenly Creatures
04 – Toys
05 – Black Sunday
06 – Queen of the Dark
07 – True Ugly
08 – Love Protocol
09 – The Pavilion (A Long Way Back)
10 – Night-Time Walkers
11 – The Gutter
12 – All on Fire
13 – It Walks Among Us
14 – Old Flames
15 – Lucky Stars
Claudio Sanchez – lead vocals, guitar, keyboards
Travis Stever – guitar, mandolin, backing vocals, talk box
Josh Eppard – drums, backing vocals, keyboards, programming
Zach Cooper – bass, backing vocals