Album review: Coheed And Cambria – Vaxis – Act II: A Window Of The Waking Mind

Proggy luminaries Coheed And Cambria continue their sci-fi epic with album number 10…

Album review: Coheed And Cambria – Vaxis – Act II: A Window Of The Waking Mind
Paul Travers

Some bands piece together a single elaborate concept album and consider themselves daring musical adventurers exploring uncharted territory. Compared to Coheed And Cambria, they’re package tourists tucking into the conceptual version of egg and chips. This is a band who have forged a concept career, with an ongoing sci-fi storyline now spanning nine of their 10 studio albums and a slew of comics and books. Hells, this outing is just the second part of a new five-part arc and the deluxe version comes with its own illustrated novella.

Long-term fans can immerse themselves where Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures left off, following the footsteps of interplanetary fugitives Nia and Nostrand and their child Vaxis. You don’t have to take a crash course on two decades of complex lore to enjoy Act II, though. For all their intricate storytelling and consummate musical skills, Coheed remain surprisingly accessible. The likes of Beautiful Losers, with its swayalong, lightsabres-in-the-air refrains, and the driving punch of The Liars Club are pure pop-punk perfection and could just as easily be retrofitted with standard lyrical concerns about heartbreak and anxiety.

The album starts to peak towards the end, though, when they do become a little more spiky and progressive – a general structure they’ve utilised before. The final three tracks take you on a cinematic journey with more jolts, twists and sudden transitions, culminating in the close to nine-minute epic Window of the Waking Mind.

20 years after making their full-length debut, Coheed And Cambria continue to boldly go where no band has gone before, and long may it continue.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Circa Survive, The Dear Hunter, Thank You Scientist

Vaxis - Act II: A Window Of The Waking Mind is released on June 24 via Roadrunner

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