True to their promise, Coheed and Cambria deliver the second half of the Afterman double album just four months after its predecessor. The wild ambition displayed on Afterman: Ascension deals with the adventures of astronaut Sirius Amory, his ascent into the spaceways, and his scientific achievement in discovering the secrets behind the cosmic energy source The Keywork. It ended with what songwriter and singer Claudio Sanchez called "a sonic cliffhanger." The second half details the return of Amory to his home planet and what he encounters after he arrives. The story is detailed not only in the songs on both recordings, but in a coffee table book by Sanchez that contains the recordings and song by song details, as well as gorgeous illustrations. Musically, CC blew fans' minds -- and more than likely scared them a bit -- with their wildly ambitious stylistic diversity on Ascension. That continues here in spades. The musicians in this quartet can play anything they want convincingly. Whether it's prog metal (opener "Pretelethal"), edgy emo ("Gravity's Union" and "Dark Side of Me") Thin Lizzy-influenced arena rock ("Away We Go"), cosmic, acoustically driven ballady ("Iron Fist"), Pink Floyd-ian rock ("Hard Sell"), and even '80s pop ("Number City," which contains a horn section and actually invokes memories of Wham!). While that last one may terrify those who have been with the band from the beginning, it shouldn't. A listen to "Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant" should convince them that their knotty brand of prog-punk metal is alive and well. Album-closer "2's My Favorite 1" is a big, explosive rock & roll love song that not only throws CC's original love of Rush into the mix, but showcases their seemingly effortless ability to construct massive hooks that don't let go. In fact, given the way they tie their ambitions together so tightly here musically and conceptually, it actually voids the impression of messiness on Ascension. On Afterman: Descension, Coheed and Cambria prove that while they may be more accessible than ever before, it's not for lack of adventure or musical ambition, it's because of them.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek