Most bands find it difficult to keep finding new inspiration to put out records that don’t tarnish their legacy. This is especially true when they find themselves recording their ninth studio album which is the situation Coheed and Cambria find themselves with The Color Before the Sun. What’s interesting about this particular record is that it’s the first to not be a part of the overarching story that has been made up of their previous albums. The Color Before the Sun deviates from what has come before it, but not in musical quality. The band is as strong as ever and has put together another solid entry in their catalog.
The album kicks off with a strong and big power pop opener in “Island” which also happens to be one of the standout tracks. The album is definitely split between slower more emotional songs and the big catchy hook driven tracks. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to Infinity On High era Fall Out Boy for their ability to blend multiple genres of music but retain that pop atmosphere. “Colors” brings things more in line with traditional Coheed sounds where as “Ghost” creates a great emotional midpoint to the album. The way some of the slower songs are structured shows off singer Claudio Sanchez’s voice as well as a little experimentation with the guitars. The band has been known to draw influence from prog music but this album definitely doesn’t go to that well often. This is much more of a straight forward album which isn’t a bad thing at all. The band still gets to show their musical chops but does it in a very pop radio friendly method. Sanchez’s signature higher pitched vocals cut through and he has a few standout moments showing off how much control he has over his voice.
Perhaps the best track on the record is “Atlas.” I can see this becoming a staple of their live show for years to come. Again it brings a big pop hook and gets the record back in an upbeat swing as it heads into its second half. The lead single “You Got Spirit, Kid” reminds me a lot of early My Chemical Romance which is a style of music sorely missed in 2015’s pop landscape. I know I’ve made a few references to Coheed sounding like other bands but make no mistake, this album is 100% them. It’s a testament to how they’re able to take influences from many styles of music and combine them into their own unique sound. They’re a band that when you hear them, you know it’s them. Few bands are able to do that these days and often finding themselves blending into the mix after an album or two. Even less of those bands are able to carve out a legacy and absolutely devoted fan base like Coheed and Cambria.
I have to pay special attention to the album closer, “Peace to the Mountain.” This song builds to a fantastic ending not just for the song itself but for the album as a whole. As the song comes to its finale, horns and strings come into play accompanying the full band. I love when pop and rock bands are able to pull this off. It’s tricky because many times it can come across as forced or even sounding bad as the band wanted to cram too much into one song. This track is an excellent example of the musicianship the band has to offer. The added elements here make this song feel big and important. It’s a great way to finish the record giving that feeling that the ride is now over.
I love the fact they were willing to stray from their bread and butter with the concept albums. I’m sure this allowed the band to feel a little less restricted but at the same time this isn’t a radical departure from what has come before. They’re still the same band. Maybe a little more simplistic in direction but again, that isn’t a negative. Far too often bands are condemned for making a record with a bit more simplicity in mind but many times this forces more creativity to come out. While this isn’t a crazy prog rock masterpiece, it can be just as hard to write a solid timeless pop record. Coheed and Cambria are still writing great songs and can be proud to add another fantastic album to their discography with The Color Before the Sun. If you’re a fan, you’ll want this and if they’re new for you this is a great entry point.
Key Tracks: “Island” “Atlas” “Peace To The Mountain”