Since Coheed and Cambria will soon be touring this album in its entirety as their latest Neverender, celebrating (in the case of this album) the twelfth anniversary of its release, I thought I should review it. I will sadly probably be unable to see a show on this tour despite having eagerly awaited them to tour this album again as well as for them to tour with the Dear Hunter again. Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV Volume 1: From Fear through the Eyes of Madness (Good Apollo or GA1) is my favorite Coheed and Cambria album despite (or probably partly because of) its slightly disturbing subject matter. It is chronologically their third album and falls fourth, fifth, or sixth in the concept, depending on how you’re counting.
Claudio Sanchez, lead singer of Coheed and Cambria, has created a concept universe around (all but one of) the band’s albums. He has written comics, a prose novel, and a coffee table book for this concept, all under the overarching title of The Amory Wars. The band’s first four albums are considered to be the Coheed and Cambria arc of the Amory Wars, with their fifth album, Year of the Black Rainbow being a prequel to them and the following double album, Afterman: Ascension and Afterman: Descension being prequels set even farther back than that.
GA1 is in the Coheed and Cambria arc, in which characters named Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon are coerced into setting into motion a catastrophic series of events in order for an evil mage to try to take over their planet system, known as the Keywork. I could go way more in depth about this but that’s not the point of this review.
In the Amory Wars, Claudio (Sanchez) has a character named Claudio Kilgannon (son of Coheed and Cambria). He also has a character who represents his ex-girlfriend, Nikki Owen, named Newo Ikkin, as well as a character who represents his then girlfriend (who is now his wife), Chondra Echert, named Ambellina. Ambellina is a member of the Prise, a race of blue angels that come from Star IV, who is sent to keep Claudio (Kilgannon) safe from the agents of the main bad guy, Wilhelm Ryan. However, in real life, Claudio and Chondra had a falling out (I believe she cheated on him). So for Good Apollo, he created a character to represent Chonny’s evil or dark side, known as Erica Court. The story of GA1 is told from two perspectives. In the Amory Wars universe, Claudio Kilgannon sets out to destroy the home of the Prise and finds out that Erica has betrayed him. Within the story, a character named the Writer, who represents Claudio as he writes the story, is struggling with the betrayal of his girlfriend and becomes mentally ill. He believes that his bicycle, known as Ten Speed, is evil and convincing him to kill off Ambellina and Erica in the story.
Good Apollo was the first Coheed and Cambria album I ever heard. It is, arguably, their most progressive album. It made an impression on me immediately, and to this day still resonates with me. There are soft, hopeful songs, such as “Wake Up”, and there are aggressive, angry songs, such as “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)” or “Crossing the Frame”. Most of the songs have multiple movements and have really heavy instrumentation and harmonies. There is a series of songs, “The Willing Well” I-IV that are each over seven minutes long, with movements and themes. There is a bit of fun, swampy music at the very end of the album known as “Bron-y-Aur”, inspired by the similarly titled Led Zeppelin song named after a shack. I love this album.
RIYL: The Dear Hunter; Mandroid Echostar; Mastodon; Thank You, Scientist
Recommended Tracks: All of them. But if I have to pick, “The Suffering”, “Crossing the Frame”, “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)”, “Wake Up”, “The Willing Well I-IV”