Almost 9 years ago I discovered a band that resonated so deeply, I can honestly say my life changed. They didn’t make me a better person or help my love life or really do anything measurable, but they’ve been my soundtrack for nearly a decade. There’s the times I’ve seen them live — somewhere around 12 and counting —, the memories tied to songs, and no matter how many times I hear them, some songs just give me goosebumps. No other band in my 35 years has ever affected me in this way.
In early 2004 I picked up a random CD from my brother’s entertainment center. The band was Coheed and Cambria and the album was their newest release In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. The name intrigued me but I don’t think I even questioned my brother about it. Sometime in the next few days, my friend Matt loaned me their CD and the rest is history.
The second the title track came through the speakers, I was hooked. I’m writing this with that same song in my headphones, my arms covered in goosebumps, and my mind flashing back to the times I’ve seen them perform it live. This is a powerful song, full of epic sauce you might say.
In 2005 Coheed released their third album, Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. The title is a mouthful but this is by far my favorite album by a long shot. Why is it my favorite? I direct your ears to the last 5 tracks. The whole albums is amazing but the last 5 tracks are something special. I have spent months with them on repeat as I absorbed the entirety of this masterpiece in 5 pieces. It may seem melodramatic but I believe this is the best thing Claudio and crew have created. So far at least.
October 2005, Matt and I walk into The State Theatre in Detroit to see Coheed in concert. I still remember that show with a vivid brightness that seems I must have experienced it only last month. I can still feel the wonder as the entire house joined in singing Everything Evil. I remember “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” whipping the crowd into a frenzy and subsequently into a writhing mosh pit (as it always did). Most of all I remember their performance of The Final Cut, the last track of the album that went on to become their signature concert finale for many shows to come.
One month later, Matt and I drove to Toronto to see the exact same show in a horrible venue — compared to The State Theatre at least. We tried to walk the 5 miles from our hotel to the venue, a rather big mistake. Even so, it was worth every step, every blister, every penny, every mile.
A few years earlier, my brother saw Coheed perform at The Shelter in Detroit. They were touring for The Second Stage Turbine Blade and relatively unknown. The Shelter is basically the basement of Saint Andrew’s Hall and it’s quite the intimate setting. If I ever stumble on a time machine, this is the first place I’ll head.
I may not have experienced them in a tiny venue in Detroit, but I’ve more than made up for that in the past 9 years. As I said earlier, I’ve seen them live something like 12 times. I was keeping all of my stubs but I didn’t do such a great job. One day I’ll sit down and try to map out my concert history so I know for sure what number I’m on.
Next Coheed released Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow which was kind of a let down. I built up such an expectation after Good Apollo v1 that I wasn’t prepared for anything less. What’s that saying, a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work? I’d rather listen to this album than most anything else. Even at their worst, I’m a fanboy.
I should have explained this earlier but Coheed has released only concept albums with each album a part of a larger story. Second Stage Turbine Blade was the second part of the story and Year of the Black Rainbow, released 8 years later, was the first. This album ranked a solid 4th in my preference until The Afterman Ascension was released in October 2012.
The Afterman is a 2 part album split into Ascension and Descension, both are fantastic. My fear that Claudio had lost his mojo is proven wrong with this set of albums released several months apart. This is the Coheed I fell in love with.
This Friday night (2/8/2013) I’ll see them perform in the same venue as my first show. I’ll scream the lyrics to every song as will almost everyone in the room. I’ll have goosebumps. I’ll be bursting with energy. This is what I mean by life changing, they make me feel alive like nothing else has.
If you haven’t heard Coheed and Cambria, I strongly recommend them. Don’t start in the present, go to the beginning, it’s totally worth it.