In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 is the second release of a rumored four for N.Y.’s Coheed and Cambria. The albums, apparently, will eventually tell a story about two characters, Coheed and Cambria, as they live and die. The first album, 2002’s Second Stage Turbine Blade (featuring Bad Brains guitarist Dr. Know), served as an introduction to the sci-fi post-apocalyptic story; this second release covers the characters as they experience “a dream that turns into a nightmare.” How fitting for the progressive pop “emo” band that has grown quite a reputation for blending the pretty with the dark.
The story stems from one that lead singer Claudio Sanchez is currently writing. Rumors say the story will eventually be turned into a novel or a comic book, but for now we settle for it as the motivation behind CaC’s critically acclaimed first album and now this one. And while the idea of a concept album has always intrigued me in the way it adds that extra artistic cohesion to a release, for CaC it comes off as pretentious.
It’s as if the band’s saying to 17 year olds everywhere that they need to buy this because it is more important than anything else … ever. In reality it comes off more like a DIO fantasy record, with its epic vocals. In Keeping Secrets takes itself way to seriously for being about two guys in outer space or the future or wherever this takes place. I guess that’s prog-rock for you.
The strange thing about Coheed and Cambria is that it appeals to such a wide audience. “Emo” kids love the epic/tragic tone in which Sanchez delivers his fantasy-based, ethereal vocals, not to mention the progressiveness of the music (“A concept album, holy shit, my glasses will look so cool on me if I listen to this”). Hardcore kids are breaking things to the metal-influenced breakdowns and “mosh” parts. And pop punk kids are going to the mall.
But the where the album lacks most is in its ability to keep up with itself. After a two-minute intro that picks up where the last record left off, the first real song (and title track) of this album kicks in and kicks your dad’s ass. Eight minutes and twelve seconds later you are impressed and excited for the epic to follow. But the rest of the album does not deliver. Aside from a few tracks, the album loses a lot of the first track’s intensity, reminding me instead of a Journey record where the listener-friendly, all-appealing singles severely outshine the filler.
Coheed and Cambria nailed its first release, but they’ve taken a few steps in the wrong direction with this one. Don’t worry yet, especially if there are two more to go. Maybe one day when, you’re going to listen to the whole epic series back-to-back like it was the Star Wars trilogy, insert a Journey record in the place of In Keeping Secrets and settle back into prog-rock bliss.