Published Oct 02, 2018After an album away from their long-running sci-fi narrative, Coheed and Cambria return to the Amory Wars saga with The Unheavenly Creatures. Love and strife are afoot in a prison planet! And so are riffs: after two-plus decades, Coheed & Cambria can still trot out big blasts of metal-edged rock and prog with finesse. Unheavenly Creatures is chock-full, 78 minutes long, and all of it guided by Claudio Sanchez's evergreen voice.
After the brief, motif-introducing piano of "Prologue," "The Dark Sentencer" opens the album with almost eight minutes of dramatic riffs and "hey!" chants. It defines the parameters at play: the band are fully immersed in epic rock mode.
Nothing on Creatures is shorter than four minutes, from the foreboding, guitar march of "Queen of the Dark" to the muted pluck of "Love Protocol" that heads for the stratosphere in its chorus. If the elements at play feel pretty familiar for Coheed and Cambria, there's a fresh energy imbued in these songs to keep it all feeling lively.
And sure, make what you will of the multi-album Amory Wars concept (there's a book and comics that expand on the grander narrative). On a song-by-song basis, Sanchez leans into human moments to ground his bigger ideas in connection or struggle. That helps keep the more galactic concepts well-grounded. (Roadrunner)