If Claudio Sanchez's voice wasn't so damned distinctive, there'd be just about nothing tying his solo project the Prize Fighter Inferno to his primary progressive emo-rock band Coheed & Cambria. OK, sure, there's the story line that connects the two groups together, but if you can clearly decipher what's going on throughout My Brother's Blood Machine, props to you. According to Sanchez, this album is told from the point of view of Inferno, aka Coheed's brother Jesse, who died in Coheed & Cambria's 2005 album. The plot line of his story predates the whole saga that dominates C & C's albums, setting up the three-family feud known as the Amory Wars. The Blood Machine is basically some kind of contraption built by two brothers of the Bleam family -- whose mother tells them that they are the new "dealers of death" appointed by God -- used for catching souls once they leave the bodies of the dead. A young girl named Cecillia McCloud runs into the brothers in the woods while fleeing her abusive father and that's where the Prize Fighter album begins. Or at least something like that. Confused yet? Thankfully, the music of Sanchez's side project (one which he worked on intermittently for about seven years) is a million times more straightforward than the concept driving it. The album is primarily electronic-based indie rock that is so mellow and relaxing, it works well on a superficial level alone (never mind figuring the lyrics out) just as soothing background music. Sanchez uses only sparse instrumentation alongside his often-hushed singing, acoustic strumming appearing over gentle blips and electro flourishes. Because of the stark uniformity of the music, however, it's easy for listeners to get distracted, as there's not always much to keep one's attention focused. Now, this isn't wholly bad because Sanchez pulls everything off quite pleasantly; it's just that some ideas seem only half-finished (whether or not that was the intention), that one track often begins before a prior one even seems to have gotten started. So while several hit the mark -- like the Michael Jackson-esque "The Margretville Dance" or the subtle gloom of "Run, Gunner Recall, Run! The Town Wants You Dead!" -- and overall My Brother's Blood Machine is more hit than miss, but it's still a bit lacking and unsatisfying, especially considering the amount of time invested in the project. For overachieving Coheed & Cambria fans only.
My Brother's Blood Machine Review
by Corey Apar