Coheed and Cambria – Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One; Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness (2005)

This is a strange one: I’ve never really considered myself a fan of Coheed and Cambria – in fact, growing up alongside the “emo” trend in high school, hearing Coheed’s high-pitch croons would send shivers up my spine. But then, with Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness came a maturity that took a while to sink in, although it added a progressive element to Coheed’s already unusual sound, and made me see the band in an entirely different light. Nowadays, early Coheed stuff doesn’t make me want to vomit – I still don’t like it, don’t get me wrong – but now at least I understand it.

What I don’t understand however is what the actual fuck is going on here, on this record. There is a puzzling mystery in Coheed’s approach to music. On the surface, to the casual listener, it appears poppy and catchy, but underneath that, if you dig further, there is an intense technical edge to these well-crafted tunes.

Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness is an ambitious concept album that continues to unfurl the Coheed and Cambria story (I won’t go into it). You know an album is big when it doesn’t actually begin properly until the third track (the gloriously pompous “Welcome Home”). There is a smattering of Coheed classics here, from the big singles as “Ten Speed (of God’s Blood & Burial)”, “The Suffering” and “Wake Up”, through to the lesser known album tracks such as the hat trick of bangers: “Crossing the Frame”, “Apollo I: The Writing Writer” and “Once Upon Your Dead Body”.

My favourite part of this monstrosity has to be the final four tracks, which should really be an EP on its own, The Willing Well Parts I-IV. This is where shit gets real; no more poppy four minuters, it’s like Rush somehow got on board for the latter half of the recording process for this album. At over seven minutes a piece, these tracks are long, meandering yet still catchy, but just plain weird. The drums are absolutely everywhere; buzzing, ticking, fluttering, hissing, with fills galore and hi-hats spasmodic. “The Willing Well III: Apollo II: The Telling Truth” is a reprise of “Apollo I: The Writing Writer” and is the best song on the record, with the closing track “The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut” tumbling in a close second. “The Final Cut” is a Pink Floyd inspired dreamer drenched in wavering organs and jagged guitar leads, underpinned by a venomous lyrical climax. Yikes.

The production on this thing as well, is just perfect. Every instrument pushes through with expert clarity so big up to David Botrill who mixed this thing.

Get proggy and give the entire Willing Well suite a goosey (medicinal cigarette recommended).