10’s are rare ‘round these parts. Outside of a handful of years spent living in Oklahoma, I never speak like a southern gentleman – so don’t get used to that cowboy-talk.
2005 was a wicked (New England for life!) year, and if you don’t believe me, check out MEB Ranks: 2005 edition – bananas! In my lifetime, even looking back to before the years I was birthed, there haven’t been very many “Perfect” records. Recollecting everything I have ever heard from start to finish (a minimum of five times, obviously), I can count maybe six or seven. Moral of the story: Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One is one of the perfect few.
Over the course of that memorable year (in my opinion, at least), Coheed & Cambria were partially overshadowed. Unfortunately for them, in 2005, Paramore, Protest the Hero and Alkaline Trio all released their most groundbreaking performances to date (two of them being debuts). Luckily for them, 10’s aren’t limited on a “per year” basis.
Getting to the main topic of the day – Coheed & Cambria have been a very stable source of excellence and consistency throughout their time in the industry. In today’s music world, I firmly believe this is a rarity. Dating back to my high school years (wow, I’m getting old), Coheed built a foundation for success, laying the bricks and mortar so to speak, with The Amory Wars storyline. Since then, they have released several albums revolving around the same concept (but to those die-hards out there, we won’t go too deep into that), and never has one been below par.
While the fourth installment was actually the band’s third full-length album under the Coheed name, the monumental success of the record is still second to none when compared to the rest of their discography. With over one million albums sold to date, IV is definitively the band’s most respected.
Honestly, after 2003’s In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, I never thought the band would touch that ability again. Not only was I wrong, but their continued success has made it nearly impossible to expect anything less than greatness each and every time – so far, so good.
OK, analysis time – IV is obviously best known for the powerful and progressive “Welcome Home.” For good reason, I might add. The track is extremely notable, but in my honest opinion, it is nowhere near the best. The “Willing Well” series will forever and always be the most impressive concept to any Coheed record (forever and always, people) – and while I feel highly confident backing this claim, the “Welcome Home”-aholics will likely let me hear it. First of all, relax – I did score the album a 10 for a reason. That suggests that each track holds its own unique value and sentiment within the flow of the overall record. The album starts extremely soft and haunting (as most of their records do), but progresses into the eye-opening “Welcome Home.” This is both a clever and predictable (figure that one out) strategy. From there, the record showcases an onslaught of catchy (characteristically “Coheed-ish-type”) tracks, until they slow back down with the lingering “Wake Up.” The song is one that sits well, but doesn’t, all at once. Once the track closes and the first single “The Suffering” chimes in, you are beginning to wonder if we are just listening to IKSOSE3, part 2. However, rather than end there, the band displays its sheer dominance and power over mostly ever other band in creation, by adding the aforementioned “Willing Well” series. The four tracks close the epic album brilliantly, and in all honesty, are the determining difference between the album’s predecessor and itself.
When thinking back on the magnitude of this record, the thing that most resonates after all these years is interesting – while IV was the band’s most substantial to date (with regard to length, I am talking), the album still leaves you wanting more. But, not in that bad “this wasn’t good enough” mentality, not at all actually. More in that “yes, this is amazing” but, ending it is almost criminal. Get the picture?
I still get giddy when, track after track, I can’t seem to pick out a favorite. This is another one of those examples where upon first listen, you think to yourself: “How in the hell are they going to out-do this song too?”
Then, they just do.