Coheed and Cambria
In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 is Coheed and Cambria's second album (the three in the title refers to the part of lead singer Claudio Sanchez's story, not the number of the album; C & C have yet to record the first part of Sanchez's The Amory Wars, the storyline which is the origin of the band's name and the idea behind all of their music). I downloaded this CD not long after attending a concert with my brother. (He had an extra ticket, so I tagged along to check them out.) However, I didn't listen to the whole album until almost a year later. For whatever reason, my interest in the band waned after the concert, and I moved on to other stuff. But when I returned to the band, I became more interested than ever. Why? It rocks.
The album begins with the customary Coheed and Cambria classical-style intro "The Ring in Return," before launching straight into the most epic track on the CD. No lie. If you listen to nothing else on Keeping Secrets, listen to its title track. The quiet beginning builds to a downright mind-blowing performance. The eight minutes goes faster than you will believe.
Next, we get "Cuts Marked in the March of Men," a good example of Coheed's ability to craft dual-guitar stylings, as well as a nice refrain. The album moves right along into "Three Evils (Embodied in Love and Shadow)," an upbeat track with another solid refrain. It's nothing spectacular, but it's another fine case of C & C's musicianship and knack for counterpoint. You'll also get a postively mystifying lyric: "On the wrong way out / On the causeway to neverwhere."
Anyway, in "The Crowing," we get a chance to hear Coheed and Cambria's method of repeated notes with chord changes, followed by one or more melodic sections, then returned to the sparse foundation of intermittent strokes, then ended by an echoing melodic section. Included in a recent "The Videos," "Blood Red Summer" gives us a single-friendly song, but that shouldn't be taken the wrong way. It's an enjoyable song and the way the ascending and descending guitar fits with the punctuating chords of a second guitar is nothing short of fascinating. Like many people, one of my biggest weaknesses is a catchy vocal improvisation, and you'll get that from about 2:43 to 3:08.
The album then enters the three-part "The Velorium Camper" section. This is a pattern on Coheed and Cambria albums to have a section of a few songs set off on their own. "I: Faint of Heart" is an interesting song, though nothing very praise-worthy. "II: Backend of Forever" is another nice effort, but once again, I struggle to find anything especially noteworthy. "III: Al the Killer" is by far the best of the trio. It's menacing guitar at the start shows a dark side of C & C, but when it opens up, there's a great change of pace, at which point we hear yet another great refrain, complete with excellent harmony.
"A Favor House Atlantic" is the pinnacle of this album. It's no surprise that this is the most radio-friendly song from this album; it's not as drawn-out as "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3," and it has more energy and a better refrain than the other shorter tracks. If you attend a Coheed and Cambria concert, you will hear this song. And you will hear girls screaming the refrain, which begins coherently,
Bye, bye, beautiful
Don't bother to write
but ends with what appears to be nonsense.
Disturbed by your words, and they're calling all cars
Face step let down, face step-step down
Huh? This is probably an instance when the comic books' material simply doesn't translate to music without proper explanation.
The second-to-last track is "The Light & the Glass," the slow song of the album. This isn't really what you look for from a prog band, but while the nine minutes are a little long, they aren't a total loss. The song has some good spots. It closes with another rendition of the opening theme. And that brings us to the close of the -- BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! There's a hidden track!
Meh. Personally, I could do without it. Even without "21:13," the album is already just seconds away from an hour long. The last track pushes it to 69 minutes, 24 seconds, which, quite frankly, is too long. If you're going to make a 69-minute album, it had better be the best freaking album ever made. I like In Keeping Secrets, but enough to give it that kind of praise.
Anyway, I give In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 four stars out of five. Even if it's a little dull at times, there's no way I can overlook the sheer magnificence of the title track, the catchiness of "Blood Red Summer," the powerful "The Velorium Camper III: Al the Killer," and the spirited "A Favor House Atlantic." If you're looking to explore what Coheed and Cambria has to offer, I'd recommend this album, and the following one, Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Vol. 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness.