For most rock bands, "concept albums" are a one-shot deal. Not Coheed and Cambria, who have made a career out of this format. Their forthcoming release, The Afterman (a double album which will be released in two separate parts – the first, The Afterman: Ascension, on October 9th, the second, The Afterman: Descension, in February 2013), continues the ongoing saga of the Amory Wars story, which has unfolded through every full-length Coheed album.
"This record, we didn't have a label when writing it," Coheed's singer-guitarist, Claudio Sanchez, told Rolling Stone. "I started writing a lot of this material two years ago, so it really allowed for time to influence the ideas. In that regard, it reminds me of some of the earlier records.
"This was just allowing my life to seep into the music in the span of two years, which I think is very important in terms of creativity," he continued. "Because when you go into that mind frame of 'It's time to write a record,' you're being influenced by that time. Whereas in two years, you change in that span of time."
Although the band (which also includes guitarist Travis Stever, bassist Zach Cooper and drummer Josh Eppard) has made a pact not to discuss the storyline to The Afterman until after its release, Sanchez was willing to drop a few hints. "It's still in the Amory Wars mythos. Basically, as a broad stroke, it's the origin and tale of Sirius Amory, the namesake of the mythology."
Further storyline clues came to the surface while discussing the album's lead single and video, "Domino: The Destitute." "'Domino' is a scene in the story where the Afterman explores the energy source, the Keywork," said Sanchez. "In the Keywork, he finds out it's not comprised of these kinds of elements – it's actually almost an afterlife. And your energy in life echoes in death. So, if you're a horrible human being in life, your energy as part of the Keywork is horrible."
Fans that need their Coheed and Cambria fix before the album's release can catch the band opening for metal veterans Iron Maiden on an already-launched set of U.S. dates. According to Sanchez, the tour has been so far, so good.
"Actually, great. Whenever you come into a 'support' scenario, you get a little nervous. Here you are, you're trying to win over new fans. Iron Maiden – they are what they are, and they've built such a strong following. I'm sure you get one or two a night that are impatient and want Maiden to come out. But at the same time, you just feel an energy as the set grows. It feels really good."
Despite the group's current live triumphs, it's the upcoming The Afterman: Ascension that is Sanchez's pride and joy. "Afterman, the record in general, I'm so proud of. And I know it's the kind of thing you have to say, right? But again, it felt so natural making it."