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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Coheed's prog-nosis: thunder and brightening

October 18, 2005|Steve Appleford | Special to The Times

"Progressive" rock has always been as likely to mean pointless self-indulgence as something truly mind-expanding. The newest generation of prog has at least moved away from the worst habits, with Coheed and Cambria discovering the previously unknown nexus of prog, metal and emo.

At the Wiltern LG on Sunday, the New York quartet's leader, Claudio Sanchez, was all hair and humble thank-yous between songs, standing with a double-necked electric guitar, slowly easing from one delicate melody and into the metal squeals of "Welcome Home."

This was modern, thundering prog, not unlike the Mars Volta at times, except that where the Volta might speed things up, Coheed tends to slow them down.

During the 90-minute performance there was never any question that Sanchez was at the core of everything, slipping into a frantic guitar lead, struggling to keep his tangle of curls in control, or casually mentioning Coheed's new album: "Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV: Vol. 1. From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness."

Sanchez's vocal squeal lands somewhere between the Volta's Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Rush's Geddy Lee, which definitely isn't for everyone but has connected with enough fans to take "Good Apollo" into the Top 10. The Wiltern crowd shouted along to "Blood Red Summer," while the ballad "Wake Up" added some welcome variety.

Love or hate them, this is a band that thinks big, crafting sci-fi concept albums for a young audience generations removed from the original prog. The new album isn't without some epic flourishes and side trips, but the band prefers to keep things relatively tight onstage, with too much momentum to get caught up in the endless noodling of the past.

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