Sometimes there’s just no question or doubt that, when it was originally made, an album wasn’t intended to appear on a particular format. A perfect example can be found in the vinyl reissue of Coheed and Cambria‘s sophomore album, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3. While the sound is great, even the most devoted fans will begrudgingly admit that the two vinyl plates are a little unbalanced and awkwardly laid out. Why?
A lot of it has to do with the logistical limitations of the format and the contrast of that against when the album was originally released; when In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 first came out in 2003, digital downloads were starting to gain an awesome share of the music market, but the physical format which was ruling the roost was still CDs, which meant bands had seventy-four minutes to make their statement (if they wanted to keep it limited to only one disc), and it would play straight through, with no pauses necessary.
That length of continual play is just not possible on vinyl (it’s possible to get between twenty and twenty-five minutes of music per side on a 12-inch plate) so, when it comes to pressing a reissue which can accommodate that much music, moments of pause are required (for flipping the record) and it can’t always happen in the most convenient places. That problem is the one from which this reissue suffers, through no real fault of its own.
Regardless of any trouble which manifests later in this reissue’s running, the vinyl pressing of In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 starts strongly. Listeners familiar with the original CD release of the album will be pleasantly surprised to find that the gentle remastering job done to the album helps the opening track, “The Ring In Return,” suddenly sound dramatic rather than sort of two-dimensional: the phone ringing and footfalls which dot the opening of the song and the piano/keyboarding come through like a gothic happening no listener will want to miss, and the 1-3 punch of the album’s title track and “Cuts Marked in the March of Men” grips and drags listeners into the band’s fun house perfectly. After that introduction alone, this reissue marks itself as an impressive improvement over the original CD release.
The glammy-metallic, punky fun continues and even hits on the album’s first peak with “Three Evils” but, on this reissue, that moment also proves to be the first roadblock because it marks the end of the first side, which means there needs to be a pause in order to flip the vinyl. Historically, pauses like this never did anything good for concept albums (see Tommy or The Wall – both are proof that some albums require the CD treatment) and that tradition continues here – but it does need to be said that it’s the least awkward break on In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3.
After many fans hurriedly flip the vinyl to LP1’s B-side and are shaken by the remastered scream that they know and love so well at the beginning of “The Crowning,” they’ll heave a sigh of relief as the album continues. They’ll be thrilled to hear how cleanly the guitars on “Blood Red Summer” are divided (check out the beginning of the song – it’s perfectly easy to differentiate between the dirty, punk rhythm guitar on the right channel and the clean-toned, meandering lead on the left) and how well Coheed and Cambria manages to balance the pop and math-metal sides of their sound.
It’s a great feeling as the side transitions over into more math-metal/punk-pop goodness in “The Camper Velourium I: The Faint of Hearts” and the tension-saturated “The Camper Velourium II: Backend of Forever,” but things go south right at the end. As the song trails off with some tinkling piano, suddenly the side ends! Fans know there’s one more leg of “Velourium,” but a quick glance reveals that is opens the C-side of In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 which means that the rhythm of the track is totally broken.
Fans can hurriedly flip the vinyl to try and keep the vibe of the song going, but it’s no use – while the “Velourium” cycle does feature hard ends to each movement, they shouldn’t have been divided as they are here; some effort should have been made to keep that intact for the LP.
After the third part of “Velourium” opens the C-side of In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, fans will notice that, in this context, it does so with a fraction of the impact it did on the album’s CD counterpart, and reclaiming the momentum that LP1 had takes a bit of doing. “A Favor House Atlantic” goes a long way toward achieving that, certainly – the song remains one of Claudio Sanchez’ greatest early vocal performances and “House Atlantic” is great proof that Coheed and Cambria is more than capable of ditching the math in their sound to focus on punk when they want to – and the contrast between this and the song which follows it (“The Light & the Glass” – the closest thing to a good power ballad released in the last fifteen years) makes for an exhilarating experience which will leave listeners hungry for more.
Except that there’s only one song left, that one song really feels like an extended outro from a tone standpoint AND it is the only thing on the D-side of this vinyl. This is, needless to say, not the single greatest way to get out of an album, and that the C- and D-sides work out to being consistently weak feels wasteful. At a purchase price of thirty-five dollars, it’s hard not to be left wanting more.
Taking this review as a whole, readers are still probably trying to figure out if it’s positive or not: on one hand, the sound of the Legacy reissue of In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 is fantastic, but the presentation leaves quite a bit to be desired. Could this have been easily remedied? Not really; the length of the album necessitated that it be a 2LP set, and (unfortunately) the track order just put the songs in the sequence it did – so the remastering team just did the best they could with what they had to work with.
And the sound is excellent — a truly impressive reissue, in that regard. That said, while the vinyl reissue of In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 isn’t likely to win a lot of new fans, tech-savvy longtime fans will find a treasure in this reissue. After they buy it, all they’ll need is to befriend somebody with a USB turntable and rip the vinyl so they can have the sound quality of the vinyl as well as the smooth running of digital playback.
(Columbia/Equal Vision/Legacy/Sony Music)
The vinyl reissue of In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 is available in three variants: a 180g 2LP audiophile pressing, a limited IKSEE: 3 Tour Edition tan splatter 2LP (available beginning on September 5 at the merch table of each stop on the band’s Neverender Tour) and a special, Direct 2 Fan grey swirl splatter 2LP available here: http://smarturl.it/coheedcambria.