Coheed And Cambria - The Unheavenly Creatures Album Review

Coheed make their triumphant return to concept rock with this epic, 78-minute behemoth.

coheed and cambria

After spending seven albums and eleven years building up an elaborate sci-fi epic, in 2015 Coheed and Cambria took a step back from their intricate concept, instead using their eighth album The Colour Before the Sun to explore frontman Claudio Sanchez’s experiences as a new father.

Three years on, the prog-rockers are ready to dip their toes back into the world of the Amory Wars with the first in a planned pentalogy of albums, titled in wonderfully clunky Coheed tradition as Vaxis - Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures.

It’s a return to form musically as well as conceptually; among the fifteen tracks in the album’s massive 78-minute runtime are some of the most interestingly structured songs since the band’s early days.

The story picks up sometime after the events of Coheed’s fourth album, No World For Tomorrow (the fifth, sixth and seventh being prequels to the main saga), and follows the romance between the titular unheavenly creatures, a pair of criminal lovers struggling to escape from a huge space prison built from destroyed planets named the Dark Sentencer, all while being hunted by their old partner-in-crime Colossus and seeing visions of their unborn son Vaxis. If that all (understandably) sounds a bit too much to follow, don’t worry – as with most Coheed albums, the story is more of an added extra than a necessity for enjoying the music.

There’s definitely a lot here for hardcore fans to pick apart (and a collector’s edition graphic novel to give the precise details of the narrative), but The Unheavenly Creatures has just as much to offer casual listeners, with its catchy hooks, big riffs and, as always, Sanchez’s brilliant vocals.

The album opens with “Prologue”, the album’s only real concession to pure storytelling; a short, melancholic piano melody is followed up by an ominous voiceover laying out the setting, all backed by some wonderfully sci-fi synths. The voiceover continues into the opening of “The Dark Sentencer”, a big, heavy opening track with an insistent drumbeat, a great guitar solo and a repeated “Hey! Hey! Hey!” which just begs you to pump your fist in time.

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History graduate, metalhead and bad pun enthusiast, freelancing in Newcastle.