The term “science fiction” is usually not associated with music. There have been countless films, books and even video games that explore the genre, but not nearly as many albums. However, a few years ago, the band Coheed and Cambria formed with an ambitious mission to change that.
Not only has Coheed and Cambria attempted the concept album format, but it has stretched the story over five CDs. Only four albums have been released, and the last one will be released as a prequel. No World For Tomorrow is the concluding chapter and a fitting finale to a very complex and tragic story.
Formed in 2001, the New York group consists of Claudio Sanchez, Travis Stever, Michael Todd and, on this album, Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters fame. The band’s name is related to the story. Sanchez has created an epic tale with these albums and the companion graphic novels, The Armory Wars.
The concept is basically a Shakespearean tragedy involving the couple Coheed and Cambria, their sons and various villains. It is a story of war, destruction, betrayal, love and murder. Even if the concept isn’t fully understood (which is almost certain), the music itself is worth hearing.
Beginning with a short acoustic opening and narrative by Sanchez, the title track quickly comes on, and it represents everything the band is about. With several time signature changes and rapid guitar riffs, the melodies and musicianship are captivating and top-notch. The track signifies the beginning of the end as the final battle approaches. Sanchez sings, “There’s a world’s worth of work and a need for you/There’s no world for tomorrow if we wait for today.”
“Gravemakers & Gunslingers” is a very aggressive and ominous song. It is most likely the villain of Sanchez’s world threatening the hero, with lines like “Cause God knows I am not stopping ’til you breathe blood.” The listener gets the image of a Tarantino-ish shootout as he sings, “You’ve got the gun, I’ve got the bullets/Don’t wanna live no more.”
As always, the band ends the album with a suite. “The End Complete Parts I-V” feels like the closing chapter of a harrowing tale. It begins with another acoustic arpeggio while the drums crash and a choir (one of the group’s unique features) sings “No, no, no.”
It feels like the preceding eight tracks were part one of the album and this is part two. Lyrically, it is very tragic, as the world has ended and people have died. “I believed in the world, once in front of me, well, now that’s gone,” and “because the man you love don’t live anymore” are just two of the revealing lines.
The album must be thought of as a whole and critiqued as such. The middle songs are a little too commercial and not as experimental as in the band’s previous works, but they’re still very fitting.
The disc doesn’t end with a reprise of the melody, something that had begun the previous two discs. It was definitely a key aspect that brought continuity to the albums, and logically it should have been the last thing heard on No World For Tomorrow. Regardless, this album fits in with the rest as another great entry.
The band members are talented musicians who write fantastic melodies. Their work is ambitious and so dense and energetic that it completely encases the listener in its world. Whether or not the story is cohesive is irrelevant.
Based on the music alone, No World For Tomorrow is a phenomenal accomplishment and a remarkable introduction of progressive rock into the mainstream canon.