When a band like Coheed & Cambria releases an album with the guitar virtuoso and raw power of 2005’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear through the Eyes of Madness, following it up is a particularly daunting task – one exasperated by the departure of drummer Josh Eppard and the temporary (later permanent) departure of bassist Mic Todd.
However Coheed, spearheaded by the one-two guitar punch of Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever, delivered a perfect follow-up to Good Apollo Vol. One with the apocalyptic Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow. Featuring ex-Dillinger Escape Plan drummer Chris Pennie writing drum parts, which would later be played on the recording by Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins due to contractual obligations, this album captures the darker side of the Coheed universe and rightly so. In a time defined by chaos and turmoil in his personal and public life, Sanchez taps into some of the best lyrics of his career.
Not only does Sanchez shine lyrically, but Stever and he once again outdo themselves on guitar, throwing in riff after riff of prog gold. Most notably featuring this revamped progressive sound are standout tracks “No World for Tomorrow,” “The Hound of Blood and Rank,” and what in my opinion is the epitomic song on the album, “Gravemakers and Gunslingers.” Each of these tracks not only features heavy riffage, but also displays the precise drumming of Pennie. Hawkins adds his own signature groove, making for an interesting contrast between the almost mechanical nature of Pennie’s perfect timekeeping and the fluid nature of Hawkins’ recorded performance.
On the opposite end of the often challenging progressive nature of Coheed is Sanchez’s ability to indulge his pop sensibilities, while still maintaining a rigid and crunchy edge. The single “Feathers” is a perfect example of the manner in which Sanchez transcends stereotypical prog-rock practices and connects to his audience to incite the most raucous of sing-alongs.
Finally, the album climaxes into a flourish of technical showmanship in the “The End Complete” saga, spanning five songs of pure unadulterated prog brilliance that could easily put stalwart bands like Rush to shame. Each song in this saga speaks for itself, with obvious high points during such songs as “The End Complete II: Radio Bye-Bye” and the perennial live favorite “The End Complete III: The End Complete.”
Many critics often cite the album’s unfocused nature as a major quip, but I see No World for Tomorrow as more a display of the talent that Coheed has to produce incredibly diverse pieces of spectacular music in the face of all adversity. Sanchez is a natural songwriter and proves time and time again on this album that he cannot be and is not restrained by his past. While No World for Tomorrow rarely tops fans’ lists of favorite Coheed albums, it does play a pivotal role in their discography, as well as their history of a band. In the Coheed multiverse this album is a dark-horse in every sense of the word, but at the end of the day it’s still brilliant.