Album Review: Coheed & Cambria – Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind

Very few bands have had the scope, talent, and persistence that Coheed & Cambria have had in their 20-plus-year-long career that has spawned 10 albums, dozens of comic books, a full-fledged novel, and multiple side projects that range from hip-hop to electronica.

The genre-defying band are back to release the newest chapter in The Amory Wars series—the overarching story that follows almost every Coheed & Cambria album—Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind. This new chapter is an explosive album that ventures into new territory in terms of sound without sacrificing what make Coheed & Cambria who they are.

Be very clear, Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind is heavily inspired by frontman Claudio Sanchez’s side project The Prize Fighter Inferno and serves as a love letter to his wife and child. But, don’t let that deter you from listening to this album. It still has the same elements you’d expect from a Coheed & Cambria album. It is just Coheed doing what they do: experimenting with new sounds and ideas.

Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind is very cinematic and theatrical. When they’re not crushing you with intense music, they are making sure they are setting up their concept album in the way a film would be set up. Their opening song “The Embers of Fire” and the end of their final song “Window of the Waking Mind” both act as a reprise of their previous song from Vaxis I, “Old Flames.” They’re not just guessing with this, they know exactly what they’re doing and how they’re setting it up.

Led by the single “Shoulders” in July of last year, this song is what you would expect from Coheed. It’s a ripping, guitar-lead song with bass and drums complimenting the dueling guitars. The chorus is explosive, with Sanchez’s unique vocals taking charge.

The most recent single, “The Liars Club,” is an anthemic pop rock song, with one of the catchiest hooks I think Coheed has ever created, and probably one of the catchiest songs off of Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind. It has been on repeat for me since it came out in February, and if you’ve been slacking on listening to it, stop reading this review and go do that now!

The singles have been more rock-oriented, but a good deal of Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind is more electronic-based. I think some Coheed fans will be turned off to the direction they went on this album, but considering Coheed & Cambria have been experimenting with different sounds since their inception, I see this as the natural progression of their band. Listeners are still getting the familiar vocals, fantastic guitar work, funky and intricate basslines, and drums that go hard, but with more synth and beats.

Be sure to check out Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind when it comes out on June 24th via Roadrunner Records. And be sure to catch them on tour this summer with Dance Gavin Dance and Mothica!

Check it out here.

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