Coheed and Cambria The Second Stage Turbine Blade- 2001
RMR Album Rating- 7
Amazing guitar work, fantastic vocals, complex and interesting lyrics, and witty word play make this a great debut album. Its only problem is that the songs get a bit monotonous by the end, but it doesn’t really detract from the album because all the songs are interesting.
Stylistically, Coheed and Cambria’s sound would eventually cross-pollinate genres into a really interesting blend of post-punk, metal, and progressive rock, but the music on “The Second Stage Turbine Blade” is really straight away post-punk metal that is driven by three distinct elements.
First: The guitar work here is fantastic, intricate, and interesting on every song, and the playing style is completely unique. Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever share guitar duties, and they are both excellent players.
Second: Claudio’s vocals are incredible even at this early stage in the band’s career. I absolutely love his vocal style, which sounds very reminiscent of Geddy Lee’s late 70’s vocals. He certainly sings in falsetto, but not an over top operatic falsetto (ala, Bruce Dickenson, James Labrie, or Dio). It’s really more of just a high pitched voice, and I think it would resonate with any Rush or Geddy Lee fan. On the flip side, if you don’t like Geddy’s singing, then you might not like Claudio’s either.
Third: Claudio’s lyrics and word play are remarkable. All Coheed and Cambria albums are concept albums, so there is a story behind the lyrics, but even if you don’t know the story (which I don’t), the lyrics stand up on their own in an interesting and ambiguous way. Plus, there is great word play, which is my favorite part of the album. There are several verses where Claudio will repeat a lyrical sequence, but then slightly change the words the second time around, but the change is so slight that you don’t notice it upon first listen. Then it will hit you, and you’ll think, did he just say that. My favorite example is from “Devil in Jersey City” where Claudio sings, “Sweet Josephine, will you follow me home,” then he follows it up with “Sweet Josephine, will you fuck me back home”. I had probably listened to the album for two weeks before I caught that he changes the word “follow” to “fuck”; it’s very subtle (Click here to listen to Devil In Jersey City ). Same thing in “Time Consumer”. He sings… “Me and my star,” and then “Maria my star”. Lastly, the lines “You know by law,” are then repeated as “You know by lord”. I didn’t pick up on the change from “Me” to “Maria” or “law” to “lord” right away either, but it makes the album really interesting and one that you want to keep returning back to for more listens. (Click here to listen to Time Consumer).
The only downside is that the album all kind of runs together and there’s not a lot of diversity, which is fine—and somewhat expected– being that it is a concept album, but it lacks a certain punch that the best concept albums have and future Coheed and Cambria albums do have, and the two songs (“Time Consumer” and “Devil in Jersey City”) that do slightly stand out above the others both come at the very beginning, so the the album drags a bit toward the end. The concluding songs are not bad, it’s just that they don’t present anything new that wasn’t already covered earlier in the album. Lastly, they haven’t fully developed their signature sound yet, and on future releases they would become much more progressive and epic. All in all, “The Second Stage Turbine Blade” is a solid debut from a new band that does a great job pulling inspiration from the past, but keeping their sound current at the same time, which is not easy to do.
Post Script: I saw Coheed and Cambria live last night in Charlotte, NC (4-18-2011), and I was blown away. I can’t think of another show where the fans had so much energy, and I don’t think there was anyone there who didn’t know every word to every song. I didn’t know the setlist in advance, but they played this album in its entirety, so having just written this review, it was perfect for me.
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