The Afterman: Descension - Coheed and Cambria

Generally favorable reviews - based on 11 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 11
  2. Negative: 1 out of 11
  1. Feb 4, 2013
    On Afterman: Descension, Coheed and Cambria prove that while they may be more accessible than ever before, it's not for lack of adventure or musical ambition, it's because of them.
  2. Mar 5, 2013
    It doesn’t quite measure up to its immediate predecessor, but it’s not far off, and taken as a whole, The Afterman is easily one of the best things the group has ever done.
  3. Feb 4, 2013
    For every sledgehammer track, there’s a garlic crusher, destructive in a lightweight and cosmopolitan kind of way.... It’s this lightness of touch and ecleticism that makes the album such a refreshingly undemanding listen.
  4. 80
    The Afterman: Descension almost manages to stand alone, but because of one key element, it doesn't. The lyrics aren't literal or married to a narrative--the theme explored through metaphor. [Mar 2013, p.87]
  5. 70
    The Afterman: Descension will keep old fans happy, but it won’t be gaining new ones.
  6. Feb 11, 2013
    By playing it safe and giving the fans exactly what they want, Coheed & Cambria have successfully delivered two of the most predictable, mundane albums I’ve ever heard.
  7. Feb 5, 2013
    All in all, not the death knell that it could have been but not the triumphant return it so could have been at the same time, Descension is another addition to the Coheed saga.
  8. Feb 4, 2013
    There’s a slight dipping point of ‘Away We Go’ and ‘Iron Fist’, and this album doesn’t stand up quite as well as either of the ‘Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star’ epics, but nonetheless this is a thoroughly thrilling entry in to Coheed and Cambria’s rich canon.
  9. Feb 26, 2013
    Like all good follow-ups, this album retains the qualities you loved about the first installment. [2 Feb 2013, p.54]
  10. 80
    The Afterman: Descension is both a thoughtful and thought-provoking album, and one that works on several levels. [Feb 2013, p.94]
  11. 70
    All in all, with bad songs few and far between, this was a pleasant surprise.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Feb 5, 2013
    Its simple really. This is another great Coheed album, and if you have liked their albums before (or loved as I have) you will like this one. If you have never heard of them, Descension is a damn good place to start. Full Review »
  2. Feb 6, 2013
    I must admit, I was a tad disappointed with Ascension, but The Hard Sell is a 5 star track and Number City is AWESOMELY FUNKY! Every other track is just...I'm speechless. This will easily be my album of the year. Full Review »
  3. Nov 26, 2013
    The thing that I think makes C&C stand out from other prog-rock bands is how unapologetically poppy the songwriting can be at times. Sure there are intricate solos, heavy riffs & an overall ambitious scope, but they're also not afraid of writing earworm hook after earworm hook. They're not afraid of just having fun on a song, or even experiment in different genres. Look at “Number City” for example, which incorporates electronic drums, almost ska-like guitar chords, and even a horn section in a way that just works fantastically. Or “Dark Side of Me”, which is downright R&B-like in the verses between the soft but emotive vocal delivery & smooth finger-picked clean guitar part. There's also the synth-touched soft rocker “Away We Go”, and closer “2's My Favorite 1” that could've easily fit on any Jimmy Eat World album from the last decade. Of course the rest of the album is great prog-rock in every sense (except length), but I love when a band in a genre with a lot of closed-minded fans throws away their stylistic filter & just goes crazy with whatever new idea comes to mind. Every track is memorable, and somehow the track flow still avoids being jarring in that department.

    While this isn't the first C&C album I've heard (second following Ascension), it might as well because of that ongoing "story" The Amory Wars. Unfortunately, that leads me to the one thing that keeps me from absolutely loving this album is probably the same problem I'll have once I listen to the rest of C&C's discography. It seems like there's a lot lost in translation from comic to music. You wanna tell a cohesive story? Then tell a cohesive story. Don't just give me a bunch of vague situations from track to track & expect me to piece them together to create some semblance of a narrative that might kinda make a little bit of sense. The reason why some of the most revered concept albums of all time work so well is because the characters, situations & story progression are described with enough vividness to follow along without any kind of additional context. Sure there's a lot of symbolism & other figurative language thrown in for descriptive effect, but it's used to enhance the scene being set at that time, not to dilute it & confuse the listener. From what I've researched, this seems like a very elaborate & character-driven storyline. So why couldn't this have been as coherent as in the comic? Heck, the only mentioning of any character names happens either in the song titles with no explanation, or in these annoying outros that happen on a few songs involving dialogue between some guy & a vaguely computer/alien like female voice with an annoying pitch-lowing effect on it. These moments seem to only be here to lazily give exposition, which doesn't do much good when they're almost as cryptic as the songs before & after them. Luckily some songs are pretty strong lyrically on their own, but I still find it a bit frustrating that I'm unable to know what's really going on here & possibly get the full effect.

    In the long run though, despite my little rant on that issue, if you listen just for the music this is a very impressive album. This is a prog-rock band that doesn't feel restrained to just being a prog-rock band, which I find very admirable from a musician's point of view. And even then the songs in the standard heavy prog-rock style are well-written enough to stand out individually. They just need to make these albums “The Amory Wars”, not “vague retellings of some situations that happen to take place in The Amory Wars".

    Top 5 tracks: Number City, Sentry the Defiant, Dark Side of Me, The Hard Sell, Away We Go
    Score: 79/100
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