The Second Stage Turbine Blades, by Coheed and Cambria
Suggested by Craig Scott
As with my usual pattern, I listened to the Second Stage Turbine Blades on the day it was Randomised. However, I’m writing my review a full week later, which wildly bucks my traditional trend, if not my actual trend. I’ve recently taken an impromptu and surprising break from reviewing, which has been most edifying. Games have been played, chocs have been scoffed, trash TV has been binged, and rest has been had. Spotify has been silent, much to my delight.
My initial listen to this Coheed and Cambria debut offering left me massively irritated. I appreciated the playing, but the overtly progressive structure came across as soulless, buzzing, mathematical. The songs melted together like a glovebox KitKat in July, and I was angered that I couldn’t tell if the singer was male or female, which is idiotic as it doesn’t matter either way.
I needed a fire-break. I was finding fault, picking holes in everything. Were my issues justified? Or was my pettiness leaking out through my bone-tired pores? Was the constant need to conjure yet another conceit to describe a growling vocalist proving too much? Or was I bludgeoned into Hip Hop submission by the threat of Yet Another Rap Debacle? I stepped off and took stock, my motives sprouting from self-preservation.
Today, Febreze-fresh and punching, full of words, I fired up Alexa.
On my second listen, I found the majority of my complaints had melted away, a gentle permafrost on a bobbing daffodil buffered and bullied by a jet of hot piss. This time, I found the progressive leanings to be intricate and interesting, while the nasal buzzing tone of the guitars came over more chattering and approachable. The singer, who I’ve since discovered is the majestically hirsute rocker Claudio Sanchez, presents as both delicate and powerful, as melodious and emotional, seemingly capable running the full gamut of emotion in the rocking pantheon while never once sounding predictable or stale.
The song titles, too, are exciting, with intriguing and enticing offerings such as Delirium Triger, Heartshot Kid Disaster, Junesong Provision, and God Send Conspirator. In fact, on closer inspection, there’s not a track here with a penetrable title, aside from perhaps Devil in Jersey City. This song also proves to be my standout, with its almost pop-punk chugalug guitars and sweetly agile singing.
While my first, tired, consumption of this album didn’t see me wanting to hang the band high from my musical yardarm with a three or below, I was ready to deliver a karate-chop four to their collective necks. But midway through its Second Coming, I was fluffing the pompoms and priming the confetti cannons with a solid eight. Alas, it could not last.
Because even though I did enjoy this, some of my formative thoughts were still solid stone. It’s a nice sound, but it’s very samey. There’s nothing extra in the songwriting. And upon investigation, the album appears to sit in a tetralogy that chronicles Sanchez’s sci-fi comic series The Amory Wars, which isn’t upsetting in itself but it does smugly declare the need for Further Investigation.
In the end, I’m settling at 6/10 for The Second Stage Turbine Blade. Interest and irritation are different sides of the same coin, dependant on the side from which you exit your bed in the morning.