Overall Score: 9/10 Songs: 9/10 Production: 10/10 Replay Value : 9/10 Pros: A stunning collection of songs that once again challenges the audience Cons: Very little
COHEED AND CAMBRIA are one of the most ambitious bands in rock music. Through their music, videos & comic books they have created a fully immersive world. Being a fan of Coheed requires a lot of attention. It’s important to note this, as they are about to drop their most accessible canonical record. The Color Before The Sun (2015) is arguably the band’s easiest album to get into, but that is set outside the world of The Armory Wars. Vaxis II: A Window Of The Waking Mind is an astonishing record, that will see them soar to new heights.
It’s frantic, immediate, instantly hooking into you, not letting up until the final note rings out. It serves primarily as a sequel to 2018’s Heavenly Creatures, you could go in not knowing that and be perfectly fine. The first thing that stands out is the shorter song lengths, allowing for a more impactful and focused listen.
Opening track The Embers Of Fire rolls in with a children’s choir and militaristic drum beat, reminiscent of Black Parade era MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE. it situates the listener in this world instantly and sets you off to the races at light speed.
Beautiful Losers, Comatose & Shoulders come hurtling through the speakers in quick succession like machine gun fire. The former, an uplifting anthem of hope feels like a beam of sunlight through your curtains in the morning. Comatose will work its way into your ears like a U2 album on your iPhone, swift, unexpected & completely unshakeable. Shoulders is a huge stomper of a track that keeps building to its irresistible chorus. This is epic widescreen rock that was intended to be played atop a mountain while a UFO hovers overhead.
A Disappearing Act goes full Euro-pop. Employing pristine production, dance beats & synths and even a little bit of autotune. Super crunchy guitars clatter around the kind of synth lines that JOURNEY would have killed to write. It’s bombastic bubblegum perfection.
Bad Man is another gloriously OTT pop banger. There is an air of swagger that shimmies its way across this slinky yet somewhat menacing track. Basically, it sounds like something THE WEEKND wrote with Jim Steinman – while watching Star Wars on cocaine.
Ladders Of Supremacy is an epic prog rock freak out. Huge riffs dance around a tornado of drums building to an epic conclusion that sounds like someone hit the difficulty setting on every Rock Band video game at once and dared you to have a go.
From a narrative perspective we couldn’t tell you what Vaxis II is about. But musically, this is the sound of a band coming of age. COHEED AND CAMBRIA have created an album that shows their maturity and diversity as musicians. It opens their soundscapes and ambitions up to a much wider audience, while also retaining all their core elements. Simply put, it’s one of the year’s most euphoric and essential releases.
Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind is out on June 24th Via Roadrunner Records
For more information on COHEED AND CAMBRIA, like their official page on Facebook.