Article by Andrés Alvarado
Coming off their non-Amory Wars-based 2016 misfire, The Color Before the Sun, New York prog-rock outfit, Coheed and Cambria have boomeranged back to their formula of success by creating soundtracks to their whimsical tales of galactic mischief. Vaxis – Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures is the newest chapter to the Amory Wars Universe novels — and the first of five albums dedicated to the Vaxis storyline.
The initial unit revolves around main characters, Creature and Sister Spider, Vaxis’ progenitors. While the newest fable generates several twists and turns, it will be up to the listener to delve into the narrative. Nonetheless, musically, Claudio Sanchez and his mates rifle off above average thumpers on the regular on this latest record.
After a descriptor prologue, The Unheavenly Creatures revs up in stout fashion with adrenaline-channeling “The Dark Sentencer.” A fight-music single built on heavy licks and riotous drums that unequivocally drags fans into the middle of the unfolding saga. Claudio’s baritone shines vocally firm and rhythmically smooth to catapult this single into the upper tier of The Unheavenly Creatures’ better tunes. The intensity keeps rolling along with namesake “Unheavenly Creatures.” The record’s title track is laced with a dash of ’80s glam-rock and meshed to that Coheed and Cambria signature sound. For all intents and purposes, “Unheavenly Creatures” is arguably the LP’s most accessible anthem for the casual or new fan.
Rounding off the robust core to The Unheavenly Creatures are the classic rock infusions to “Toys,” the heightened use of hardcore strings tied to “Black Sunday,” pace changing power ballad “Queen of the Dark,” “True Ugly” and its punk-rock tinged essence, the piano-pop gist that forms “Old Flames,” and the epic Claudio Sanchez growls mixed into the space-battle sensitivities of “The Gutter” and “It Walks Among Us.”
Among album lows we find the out-of-place closer “Lucky Stars;” which feels like a buzzkill to the enthusiasm created by predecessor “Old Flames.” Simply put, this acoustic number just adds unneeded fat and filler. Additionally, there is a mild perception of muddiness to The Unheavenly Creatures — at times it’s just difficult to tell songs apart. After all, The Unheavenly Creatures does clock in at roughly 80 minutes long — a slimmer cut would have provided a nonstop constant and steady natural high.
Overall, The Unheavenly Creatures displays Coheed and Cambria juggling jams between a significantly high floor and a short roof. While the new record lacks a bonafide smash hit, seldom does it comes across as boring or unappealing. Moreover, Mr. Sanchez and company have set forth a respectably solid array of prog-metal bangers in a quintessential comic book manner. Welcome back, Amory Wars. Welcome home, Coheed and Cambria. Cheers!
Score: 8/10 – Key Tracks: “Old Flames,” “Unheavenly Creatures,” “The Gutter,” “The Dark Sentencer,” and “True Ugly.”