Monday, February 21, 2011

Bands I Should Like, But Don't: Coheed And Cambria

While the main focus of The Guide over the year has been overwhelmingly stoner and doom oriented, I do have a soft spot for progressive music as well. I enjoy hearing the complex rhythms, the stylistic changes jammed together, the often epic story-lines, and the seemingly-random (but still somehow together) generation of sound and song. As an avid reader, and a science fiction/fantasy nut (both in novel and live entertainment form), the concepts that propel most modern progressive music call out to me. By this definition, Coheed And Cambria should be one of my favorite bands. Hell, they have a (so far) five album story-arc, telling of a science fiction-heavy war and the world corrupted by it. This story is told throughout the songs and albums, but also through comic books, online videos, I've heard rumors of a novelization of the story and perhaps even a movie in the works(??)! But even with all this, the epic story and all the accoutrements, I still can't stand to listen to this group.
With Coheed And Cambria being as popular as they are, whenever I utter anything negative about the act, I am met with the same arguments:
  1. "Well you must not like his high-pitched voice" - While this is technically true, to me it's not about the vocal range being falsetto or the like. I really enjoy lots of bands whose singer can hit much higher notes then Claudio Sanchez can; Dream Theater, Rush, Styx, Queen (God, think of Queen!), and Manowar (to a point) all have singers that spend their time in the higher vocal range. I love all of these bands, and haven't a problem with one of their lead singers or the high notes they hit. My problem with Claudio Sanchez isn't that he plays in the higher octave, it's that he doesn't do it well. For some reason I find his voice/vocals irritating, I don't know why exactly, I just do, and that is my problem with Coheed And Cambria, first and foremost
  2. "You haven't given them enough of a chance" - False. I have listened to their entire discography (well not their latest, Year of The Black Rainbow, mostly because I didn't know it was out). I've listened to it all at least twice, and some albums (the first few) more then that! I have done my homework, dedicated the time, I just can't get into it.
  3. "You obviously don't get the story (or) understand the point" - Another one that is technically true, being not a fan I must be missing something fundamental that others some how see, but I think it is something more. As I said above I love progressive music of all type, so the scope of the story is not daunting to me, nor is all of the side-works and stuff. I listen to tons of bands that pull of concept albums - some that last several albums - they just do it better. Dream Theater, Pink Floyd, King Crimson are all known for their album concepts, and bands like Helloween and Rhapsody of Fire (while not really progressive) have concepts that arc over two, three or four albums. So obviously, scope isn't a problem for me, it's the presentation that bogs me down.
Going with number three; the presentation of the story and songs is what I think bugs me most about Coheed And Cambria. They play prog, this is true, but they play a pop-version of it, which is irritating for a true fan of the genre. I know acts are continuously combining sounds and genres together to create their own niche of music, and I know being mainstream is where the money is. But, in the same breath, being mainstream is where the creativity dies. You have to pose and primp yourself for the viewing public, making anything that doesn't sell - going into a new direction, making it heavier or truly becoming 'progressive' - gets shot down for the next release. Mainstream acts' music are lorded over by the almighty dollar sign and it's sickening. Coheed And Cambria sold out before they began, barely having a 'discovery/evolution' period that the beginnings of every band has. Within a few short years they went as a nobody to being launched in the public eye. They found what sold and have done nothing to change the formula, for fear of losing out on the monies.

Now, I'm not so pretentious to say, that if given the opportunity to sell out my music for a few millions, a life on the road, and all the pussy I could shake my dick at, that I wouldn't jump at the change. I'm just saying, as an outsider (whom has never had, nor ever will, a chance), that bands that do sell out suck. Being mainstream is not really a good thing, creatively that is.

A side note, that really has nothing to do with the group's music; they look like a group of douchebags. I know, it's a little out of step for me to critique a band based on their appearance, and besides the occasional picture of the group, I don't have a decent representation of the group, but I'm making the claim all the same. Really, it's more about the singer, Claudio Sanchez. I remember a few years ago, when either I was a freshman or sophomore in college and seeing a Coheed And Cambria music video on MTVU in the student cafeteria. I don't know what the song was (based on the time frame it probably was off Good Apollo, Volume One, but again I'm not an avid listener), but the video had something to do vampires or something... they had red eyes is what I recall; anyway Claudio was there, singing his balls-in-a-vice type of vocals, and I remember seeing his outrageous hair (even for metal bands), and what's worse, was his unkempt, curly soul-patch. Now, for those that don't know, a soul-patch is the hair a man grows directly under his lower lip, above the chin. I've got one right now, but it actually grows into my beard, not Claudio. This man had only a soul-patch (if he did have any facial hair it wasn't to the level of the pubes growing under his lip), and it was long and curly and seemed to grow into his mouth. In sort it was disgusting, and I, being a man who can appreciate some decent facial hair, was appalled. Again this has nothing to do with the band or their music, just a personal, facial haired, vendetta I have against Claudio Sanchez, that douche.

So, I ruined my perfectly good conclusion paragraph (the one above the rant), and now need to sum it all up again: On paper, Coheed And Cambria sound like a great band. With their sci-fi background, multiple-album arc stories, and progressive overtones, they should be a slam dunk for a man like myself. But they aren't. I can't stand them, whether it be their poppy-sound, their weird vocals, or even their grotesque facial hair, they rub me the wrong way. I have given them several tries, I even like one or two of their songs, I've heard "Welcome Home" dozens of time from Guitar Hero/Rock Band, and I will probably listen to their newest venture sometime within the next year, but I can't get behind them. Their prog is weak, and I call them out as sell-outs, it's all I can do.


Spookywolffe said...

I am TOTALLY with you on this. I tried -- oh how I tried -- to like this band, you said, there's just too perfect a sheen to the songs.

The Klepto said...

I'm glad you agree. I was really expecting some hate about this one, but it's nice to see others have felt my plight!

Spookywolffe said...

I'm not a huge prog fan, but I do like some of it, and I have no issue with the high vox. Just...too.... I dunno...prefab?

The Klepto said...

I love prog, which is why I think I came down so hard on these guys.


Anonymous said...

I tip my Metal hat to you for being so honest. I like Coheed And Cambria, only I don't find myself getting caught too deep into their lyrical theme(s). You just did not say "I don't like 'em"... you broke it down which is cool.

- Stone

The Klepto said...

Yea, there are the bands I just don't like, for specific reason. But with Coheed And Cambria it's been shoved down my throat so much that I feel I can list multiple reasons. While with others I just don't like one thing (vocals, instruments, lyrics, etc), with CaC it's multiple