Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures

Last time around, 2015’s The Color Before The Sun (300) saw New York progressive rockers Coheed and Cambria abandon the lavish story arc of their previous seven albums and move away from the polished and heroic approach they had made their own, ploughing a more straightforward alternative rock furrow. Whether it was an attempt to attain new fans, a one-off experiment, or simply a stylistic change that didn’t quite work, nonetheless, long-time supporters of the band will be pleased to hear that the fantasy conceptualists have returned to what they know best.

Ninth album Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures not only sees the band head back to the future, and the universe of their long-running concept, but sees them back on Roadrunner, and picking back up their previous musical style as if The Color… never happened.

And Unheavenly Creatures most definitely sees Coheed back in their comfort zone, as seven minute opening track proper ‘The Dark Sentencer’ contains every familiar element you’d expect, a progressive epic with Claudio Sanchez’ distinctive poppy high-end tones dancing over light guitar licks and the story begins again. An 8-bit led hook brings a smile, and decorates the catchy title track that follows next, and the album is off to a strong, and (considering the majority of their catalogue) recognisable start.

Yet, therein lies the snag. You most definitely can have too much of a good thing, and if The Color… isn’t a style that fitted comfortably with Coheed and Cambria, there is most definitely an overriding feeling that we’ve been here before with Unheavenly Creatures.

With tracks like the pleasantly poppy ‘Toys’, the rocked up ‘The Gutter’, and the easter eggs littered throughout that link you back to Coheed’s past, all in, this is an absolutely fine and agreeable album, and, as is Sanchez’ usual style, more is most definitely more (we are treated to eighty minutes of music, a novella co-written with his wife Chondra Echert as part one of an anticipated five-part sequel to the Amory Wars is launched) in his world. However, by the time the reflective ‘Lucky Stars’ belatedly draws things to a close, things (both in terms of the album, and in terms of the sound and style of the band in general) are most definitely reaching over-saturation point proving you really can have too much of a good thing.

6.0/10

STEVE TOVEY