It would be hard to find a band with grander artistic scope than Coheed and Cambria. Over the course of six years and four groundbreaking albums, the New York foursome has diligently developed a unique sound combining forward-thinking classic rock with strong pop sensibilities and intricate musicianship. Simultaneously, through his lyrics and comics, Sanchez has created a celebrated epic alternate universe called The Amory Wars, in which lies an ongoing conceptual tale that gains depth and complexity with each and every record.
With the band's latest creation, the euphoric No World For Tomorrow, we arrive at the final chapter in the saga of Claudio Kilgannon, the story's main character, who is out to avenge the death of his parents (Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon). While the story is set to reach its destructive end with NWFT, the band reveals their next album will be a prequel to the saga.
Concept aside, the latest offering is Sanchez's and the band's most personal document yet, with various emotionally charged events of the last year dictating the direction of the writing process. In addition, the band recruited Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Rush, Stone Sour) to produce the record while rock guru Rick Rubin played a role as the band’s A&R. The result is the most brilliant culmination of Coheed and Cambria's musical and literary vision to date.
Formed in 2001, Coheed and Cambria came storming out of the indie-rock gates with the release of their first album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, on Equal Vision Records. Endless touring and progressive, hook-laden songs like "Delirium Trigger" and "Devil in Jersey City" led to the rapid development of the band's early fan base.
The follow-up, 2003's In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, was certified RIAA gold on the strength of the group's ongoing intense touring schedule and the hit singles "Blood Red Summer" and "A Favor House Atlantic." The band emerged as a tour de force, embraced not only by their now fanatical fans, but also by radio, press and MTV.
2005's Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness, the band's first for Columbia Records, reached #7 on the Billboard Top 200. It was also a critical juggernaut, being named one of the "Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time" by Guitar World, while Rock Sound awarded it "Album of the Year." Coheed's knack for writing indelible songs, such as "Welcome Home," and "The Suffering" combined with monolithically powerful album tracks and the band's heavy follow through, secured their status as a massive live draw and presence around the world.
However, the wheels were falling off the wagon.
Fitting its title, No World For Tomorrow was born out of huge uncertainty. June, 2006 saw the departure of half the band; drummer Josh Eppard and bassist Michael Todd left under somewhat cloudy circumstances. "A lot of what this record is about has to do with the events of the past two years." quipped Sanchez. "It got to the point where Travis and I thought there might not be a tomorrow for Coheed as a band."
Deep in turmoil and unsure of the future, Sanchez and Stever decided to keep the band together and make a new record. Fortunately, by the time they were ready to go into the studio, bassist Todd rejoined and Raskulinecz helped secure Foo Fighter Taylor Hawkins to play drums on NWFT. "Taylor was a creative and powerful force in the studio," remarked Sanchez. "His amazing personality was the positive reinforcement we needed to see this vision through."
Nietzsche's line, "That which doesn't kill us, makes us stronger," seems like it could have been coined for this situation.... After everything Sanchez, Stever and Todd have been through, they could have packed it in… instead, they delivered the album of their lives.
Musically, on NWFT, Sanchez's evolution as a songwriter is glowingly apparent, with both him and Stever showing more confidence and experimentation in terms of the writing process and opening up to a wide range of instrumentation. For the first time, Sanchez found himself composing songs -- "Mother Superior" and "On the Brink" -- on piano instead of guitar, while tracks like "The Hound (of Blood and Rank)" were written on a vintage Wurlitzer organ. "'The Hound' started with me writing on a Wurlitzer, but ended up being really guitar heavy. I don't think we would have been able to write some of these guitar riffs without using the keyboard as a foundation," Sanchez explains. "We wouldn't have done that in the past."
The first single, "The Running Free," twists and turns through breakneck rhythmic changes and hooky melodic sections with heavy single-note guitar-riffing under Sanchez's signature "Oh-oh-ohs." Another key track, "Feathers," is prime example of the band's collaborative maturity (and easily the band's catchiest song to date). This spirit runs even deeper on the album's straight-ahead rockers like "Gravemakers & Gunslingers," the sonic mind-melt of "The End Complete," and the album's proggy, jam-heavy finale, "On The Brink."
Lyrically, NWFT possesses a poetic vulnerability coming from Sanchez, for the first time allowing his personal life to infiltrate the band's creative process. A powerful example is "Justice in Murder," a song inspired by Sanchez's Aunt Antonia, who last year passed away from the tragic disease of Alzheimer's. Antonia Cristiano was a psychologist who played an essential role early in the band's career- counseling them when they were experiencing deep growing pains and literally keeping them from breaking up in 2002. No World for Tomorrow is dedicated to her memory.
Of course, for a band with such mythology, musical diversity and depth; visuals are never taken lightly. The imagery for NWFT was hand painted in oils by legendary fantasy artist Ken Kelly, the man most recognized for creating the iconic KISS album covers Destroyer and Love Gun.
Since the completion of NWFT, ex-Dillinger Escape Plan drummer Chris Pennie has become an official member of Coheed and Cambria and has changed the outlook of a band that thought it was on the brink of a break up a mere seven months earlier. Sanchez reveals, "Josh leaving the band was quite a blow for us -- but having Taylor on the record, and now having Chris in the band full-time, has allowed us to progress in a way that is really exciting."
In line with this feeling of rejuvenation, and despite No World For Tomorrow's seemingly bleak title, Sanchez insists that in the end, the album is truly about hope and the ability to persevere in the face of adversity. "The album is called No World For Tomorrow, but in a way it's very uplifting… yes, it's the end of the story and everyone dies… but with every ending is a new beginning, and for Coheed, as a band, it hasn't felt this good in a long time."