Coheed and Cambria are a New York City based hard rock band who first came together in 1995 under the name Shabütie. In 2001, they renamed themselves after the two main characters of the The Amory Wars saga, which is based on the graphic, science fiction novel, written by band mastermind Claudio Sanchez, and which would also lay the foundation of their first four albums.
The band's dramatic style is a unique fusion of metal, progressive rock, emo, and other styles that might remind you of Iron Maiden, Hüsker Dü, Rush, Fugazi, and Black Sabbath all in the same breath. In 2002, the band released the first of their four concept albums, which together would chronicle the The Amory Wars saga.
With titles like, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3, Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, and Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 2: No World For Tomorrow, bestowed upon their concept album "quadrilogy," you can get a pretty good idea of the kind of sci-fi rock and storytelling you are in store for when you plop in this magnificent two-DVD set.
During their four night stand at the Terminal 5 Club in New York City, between October 22-25th, 2008, Coheed and Cambria treated a rabid hometown crowd to a retelling of The Armory Wars story, in order, and in its entirety. For those in attendance, who were too busy moshing and crowd surfing like a bunch of meth-fueled maniacs to actually remember the band's performance, you will be happy to know that it was all captured brilliantly on this two-DVD set, appropriately titled, Neverender. A four-CD, five-DVD, Children of The Fence edition is also available.
I'll start off by admitting that I was never the biggest fan of Coheed and Cambria prior to this DVD, considering that the only album I ever owned by them was In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. I enjoyed much of the album, but it never really inspired me to seek out all of their other stuff. Rest assured my friends, this two-DVD masterwork, featuring complete live performances of all four of their studio albums, all for the price of a single DVD, is all the inspiration you need to delve deeper into this fantastic world of Coheed and Cambria.
To the uninitiated, Coheed and Cambria's sound can take a little getting used to. They blend several different musical styles, and their high-pitched lead vocalist, Claudio Sanchez, can make Geddy Lee sound like that singer from the Crash Test Dummies. That is not to take anything away from Sanchez, the guy can sound absolutely superhuman at times, and he is what really makes this band so unique. Sanchez plays a pretty mean guitar too, and the rest of the band, Travis Stever (guitar), Michael Robert Todd (bass), and new drummer, Chris Pennie, are all equally adept.
Once the music starts, it is a non-stop barrage of colors, lights, and sound that completely absorb you into the world of Coheed and Cambria. Midway through the first set, Sanchez makes it clear that he is not at ease with the typical between-song crowd banter – although the few times he does open up, he comes across as very charming and humble. His best moment was when he told of how the names Coheed and Cambria were loosely based on his parents, and how the title of their debut album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, is actually the name of a part his father used to work on at a factory.
The first thing that smacked me upside the head when watching these performances was just how tight and accomplished this band is on the live concert stage. They pulled off these challenging shows as if they had been playing these entire albums for an entire tour. The brilliant light show and video screens also provided the perfect compliment to the music. There were too many memorable moments to describe in a reasonable length review, so I will only mention a few of my absolute highlights.
The 3rd night, first set closer, "The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut" was the absolute highlight of the DVD for me. They turned this Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV, Volume 1: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness album closer into their very own "Dazed and Confused," and it was stunning. Watching Sanchez work his magic on the Theremin was mind-bending enough, but his and Stever's guitar work on this track was absolutely phenomenal. And if you had any doubt as to whether new drummer Chris Pennie could hold his own in the band, check out the amazing extended drum solo he throws down during this one.
Just when you think it can't get any better than that, they follow up with an encore medley of "Everything Evil," "The Trooper," and "Devil In Jersey City." Their version of Iron Maiden's "The Trooper" is nearly worth the price of admission alone. If you thought the band's performance of "Welcome Home" was good on night three, wait until you hear it when Warren Haynes joins them for the 4th night encore. This same encore set also began with a killer performance of the Bob Dylan classic "I Shall Be Released" with Travis Stever and Haynes sharing lead vocal duties.
The overall production quality of this DVD is outstanding. The hi-def, widescreen video presentation, in particular, is one of the best I have encountered. The camera crew also did a remarkable job at making you feel like you were right there at the club. My only complaint is the lack of any 5.1 surround mix. This was a real headscratcher considering how everything else was so top notch and well thought out. Fortunately, the PCM stereo track sounded phenomenal. Played through a Dolby Pro Logic II decoder, it sounded better than most 5.1 surround
tracks out there.
This DVD cried out for some behind-the-scenes special features, but unfortunately there were none. Jeez, only 316 minutes worth of material? What a rip off. It does include a 20-page color booklet and a short essay by Claudio Sanchez describing the idea behind Neverender.
Neverender will probably make hard-core Coheed and Cambria fans want to touch themselves inappropriately every time they watch this DVD – it is that hot. Although I wouldn't go quite that far – at least not EVERY time – this excellent DVD has given me a whole new appreciation for the band. Let the next chapter begin!