The Color Before the Sun is the eighth studio album from the increasingly hard-to-define quartet from New York. Coheed & Cambria began life playing intelligent pop punk, which provided a platform for a sprawling sci-fi story penned by vocalist and guitarist Claudio Sanchez. They soon evolved to incorporate a vast array of influences, culminating in two, two-part albums, which covered everything from metal anthems and lengthy progressive numbers to simple pop songs and acoustic lullabies.
Fast forward to 2015 and Coheed & Cambria’s eighth full effort almost sees the band returning to where they began. Lead single, You Got Spirit, Kid, is taken straight from the chart-topping pop punk of the late nineties/early naughties, taking direct influences from bands like Fall Out Boy and The Offspring. For what it is, You Got Spirit, Kid is a solid track, but it fails to evoke the same emotion that Blood Red Summer or anything from their debut, Second Stage Turbine Blade, can do so well.
However, to the most dedicated fan (which is most of them, including me) it is not the genre shift that marks the biggest change, but the song’s subject matter. This is because The Color Before the Sun is their first effort to not detail the events of their fictional sci-fi world. To casual fans this won’t make any difference, but for the majority of the fan base, this album has been treated with some caution.
Fortunately, there is no need for breath-holding and concerned faces, as The Color Before the Sun delivers what the band are best known for: sublime pop melodies incorporated into a rock package. Most notably the love ballad Here To Mars (think 2’s My Favourite 1 but with more sparkle) and the bubbly The Island bring infectious choruses to simple rock formats, whilst Eraser is the pick of the bunch, with enough attitude and riffage to remind of Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 era Coheed.
However, The Color Before the Sun offers more than just a collection of straight-forward pop rock anthems, but actually displays some inventive gems. The Audience is one of the best progressive numbers the band have written, mixing gnarly guitar riffs, schizophrenic vocals and an overriding sense of impending doom with a catchy chorus, in a way that reminds of Holly Wood the Cracked or Al The Killer, showing the band can still fit into the metal category from time-to-time. Similarly Atlas, which was first revealed to fans as an acoustic number, sees the band turn up their amps to create a truly outstanding musical tribute to Sanchez’s new son.
Coheed & Cambria’s musical diversity is really shown off on this record, from metal to acoustic, which is incredibly impressive considering the short track listing. Both Colors and Ghost are very stripped back, clean-sounding tracks, the former falling into line with the record’s emphasis on pop melodies and the latter taking inspiration from Sanchez’s introverted and haunting side project, The Prize Fighter Inferno. The final acoustic song on the record, Peace to the Mountain is an epic closer that evolves from a gentle arpeggio into an orchestrated finish, combining elements of Fleetwood Mac with the uplifting tones of a summer blockbuster; a truly spine-tingling mixture.
The only negative, along with the slightly disappointing You Got Spirit, Kid, is Young Love, which fails to leave an impression, getting lost in heavy Year of the Black Rainbow-esque atmospheres and a fairly tedious riff. Pushing those two tracks aside, The Color Before the Sun is a fantastic collection of Coheed & Cambria songs, which highlight the band’s pop tendencies, but without compromising that special something that makes Coheed so infectious.
RockAtlantic’s last three album reviews:
- Clutch – Psychic Warfare (Attitude-fueled hard blues rock)
- Tesseract – Polaris (British djent pioneers come of age)
- Riverside – Love, Fear and the Time Machine (Post-progressive atmospheres)
Join the RockAtlantic mailing list by clicking on follow and, as always, press like if you enjoyed this blog and let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.