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Coheed and Cambria - Year of the Black... Album Cover

Coheed and Cambria - Year of the Black...

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8.6
Coheed and Cambria - Year of the Black Rainbow
Release Date: April 13th, 2010
Record Label: Columbia Records
Over two years passed between Coheed and Cambria's fourth studio album, Good Apollo I...screw it, let's just call it No World For Tomorrow. In that time, they managed to regain their bassist Mic Todd (now rehabilitated and clean), gain a new member in the form of ex-Dillinger Escape Plan drummer Chris Pennie and perform the epic concert series Neverender. That's all fine and dandy but what fans were really waiting for was to see how a new record would play out now that the band seems to be a healthy, functioning unit once again. They received their answer in the form of Year of the Black Rainbow.

At face value, the album is going to invoke certain feelings in its listeners. Those who prefer the raw power chords and squeaky vocals of "Second Stage Turbine Blade" or the avant-garde tendency of In "Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3" will probably be disappointed with this album. The Led Zeppelin echoes of "From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness" are no where to be seen and neither are the overly Iron Maiden inspired tracks from No World For Tomorrow (the latter being a good thing). Yet, Year of the Black Rainbow manages to stand on its own feet and I can't help but feel to a certain degree that the band is giving a big middle finger to those who cry, "Why can't we have a Second Stage Turbine Blade, Volume II?" And that's what I like about this album.

The record begins with a Sci-Fi overture in the spine tingling piano of "One". For those who are unaware, this is the first part of The Amory Wars, which is the concept that the five studio albums of the band have told (see the number pattern now?). Anyways, this track gives off obvious Atticus Ross vibes and he continues to pop up on the record, providing some wonderful soundscapes while also churning out some muddy production that does not seem to fit with Coheed. All in all, it's fit opener and sets the tone perfectly.

"The Broken" emerges next with hard hitting riffs and Travis Stever's signature lead styling. On this song, the noisy production works and the band manages to create an epic song in just under four minutes. I'm also faintly reminded of In Keeping Secrets style lyrics (I'll follow your every move/In a stride that wills disguise/Little markings clue the find). The emotional urgency of Claudio's voice soars on the chorus and leaves chills at every scream of "No one can fix us!" While other emotional deliveries on the album seem to fall short, they create a near flawless anthem with "The Broken".

Chris Pennie gets into his stride on the next tune, "Guns of Summer". The song prominently displays their great musicianship (drumming, Claudio's brilliant hammer-on arpeggio work, and Stever's grand solo) but it does little more than that unfortunately. Lyrically, the song has some great moments (No one will save us/Do you think that somebody cares/While the water is rising up?) but it all gets a little to repetitive by the end and interest is lost after the last note in the solo. The band has had trouble with ending a song in a timely manner (please see "Mother Superior" from their previous release). To top it all, Ross's work does not do justice to this track.

The single "Here We Are Juggernaut" begins with a cool synth and a groovy riff. That basically sums up the track...cool and groovy. I believe I mentioned before that Claudio's emotional delivery does make some shady appearances on the record but if you do not get goosebumps at least once during this song, you are probably not human (This is not your place/No this is not your playground/It's my heart). "Juggernaut" is a catchy mother, and probably their best pop influenced song since "Blood Red Summer" (I may go as far to say it is better but I wouldn't want to blaspheme In Keeping Secrets while there are fanboys around).

"Far" may be the most perfect song on the record simply put. The slow palm-muted chug of Claudio's rhythm section, Stever's bluesy fret work, combined with Pennie's home-made percussion excursion provides a relaxing and heart melting trip. Emotional and heartfelt (oh, please, this is what I can give/what else do you need from me?), "Far" should resonate with Coheed fans of all stripes.

"This Shattered Symphony" prominently displays the emotional disaster that I warned about. Musically, the band is showing great skill yet lyrically it falls rather short. "Go on and give me the gun! Never mind what I've done, they left me no choice, oh, they left me no choice!" Overall, it feels overdone and not very impressive. I will say that it is ironic that I find this to be disappointing as this song is about judging the band's work (Meddling eyes that judge mistakes/What awful things they say/When backs are turned and no one's looking). I felt that Claudio seemed to be shouting at me a lot during this song which isn't a very pleasant feeling.

"World of Lines" is a swift punch in the face and if I was ever reminded of an older Coheed song, it would be because of this song (please see "33" from the band's debut). "World of Lines" explores the relationship of the band and the critics. It is true, many critics are ready to dismiss the band. I mean, once people hear that there are comic books that tell the story of the songs there are only two reactions it incites: "Whoa! That's f-ing awesome!" or "That's lame". Pennies' rolling drums and Claudio's soaring vocals ("Just leave us alone/If it's not worth the letting go/It's trouble") grab you for a wild ride. While it may not be the most technical journey in the band's catalog, it is still immensely enjoyable and fans of SSTB era songs should feel an inkling of nostalgia.

"Made of Nothing (All That I Am)" is radio fodder. That is all.

Of the two ballad-y songs on the record, "Pearl of the Stars" is the lesser. However, Mic's bassline is nice and prominent while Stever once again shows his penchant for writing beautiful guitar solos. While this may be a live show crowd pleaser (lighters and all), it doesn't quite have the same effect here and one might wonder if just a simple acoustic version would have suited the album better.

If Coheed ever showed metal tendencies, than "In the Flame of Error" has them beat. A good five minutes of metal prog, the track boasts a harsh lead track and engrossing storyline in the lyrics ("I remain so alone/To work out a clever way to get her home/I will do what I must/I'll flirt with disaster/Just know now, boy, you're out of luck"). Of course, without reading the novel adaptation of the album, one would have no damn clue what tale he's spinning. But to a casual music listener, your imagination should be very happy to spin it's own tale for you ("I've been the wrong/In everyone's sleep/Please burn me a God"). Although "Guns of Summer" seemed to move on a bit slower than one might like, In the Flame of Error passes by quickly as "The Light & The Glass" does to an In Keeping Secrets disciple.

My personal favorite is next, "When Skeletons Live" is easily the best vocal work on the album. Listen to how Claudio delivers "I'll remember all she's done for me but only I forgot...that I'm not...ready to let her go". Despite it being my favorite, it also boasts the second worst lyric on the record (What's been broken can't be bent/so the past remains the past until present). Sorry, Mr. Sanchez but you don't have to rhyme your songs (please see From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness for more information). Once again, Chris Pennie shows how perfectly he fits into the band and makes those who worshiped Josh's playing eat their words.

The record closes with the befuddled title track and it's fitting lyrics (It's over/It's over/It's all falling apart). Coheed has never been one to end on a happy note, and here they don't disappoint. The track is slow and dreamy yet I am somehow reminded that the band has also put out work with clean and crisp guitar mixing. While Ross and Baressi struck some gems, they also put together songs with staples. This song would seem to be one of them, especially during the latter half on the song. The first half (before the four minute mark) was listenable and I found myself a little reminded of a Silversun Pickups jam session. As the last moments of the soundscape come to a close, it would seem that Coheed and Cambria had at least topped No World For Tomorrow.

Year of the Black Rainbow is definitely not going to please those who have dismissed the band's last two outings and have an iPod playlist called "SSTB/IKS". There's a better chance it will please those who were disappointed with the last album and an even better chance it will please those who welcome progression and are not possessed by the idea that there should be pre-conceived notions on how Coheed and Cambria should sound and operate.

Recommended If You LikeCirca Survive; Protest the Hero; Brand New; Good music


myspace.com/coheedandcambria

Track Picks
  • The Broken
  • Here We Are Juggernaut
  • Far
  • When Skeletons Live
This review is a user submitted review from nineinchsin. You can see all of nineinchsin's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 12 of 12
07:09 PM on 08/05/10
#2
nowFace
Merry xmas from The Sopranos.
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I do not agree with wat u said about shattered symphony...but overrall great review
08:13 PM on 08/05/10
#3
NeonBlonde407
Id rather be drinking a Vernors!
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wonder where they go now
11:20 PM on 08/05/10
#4
nineinchsin
Don't take it seriously
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I do not agree with wat u said about shattered symphony...but overrall great review
Thank you very much
11:39 PM on 08/05/10
#5
Spenny
Hearts without chains.
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I do not agree with wat u said about shattered symphony...but overrall great review
This.
04:56 PM on 08/07/10
#6
sevinw0rds
Polyrhythms!
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Solid review, dude! I enjoy the record a great deal, although I feel it begins to lose steam near the end and I find my attention drifting while it plays. This review contains the type of attention to detail that makes one re-visit the more challenging songs though, so well done!
02:26 AM on 08/08/10
#7
peter.faille.
Not the one you think
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for some reason i can't get into this album.
i really like SSTB, IKSSE and some songs from Dear Apollo, but I find No World For Tomorrow and this one absolutely boring. Maybe it is Claudio's voice evolution.
11:02 PM on 08/08/10
#8
nineinchsin
Don't take it seriously
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Solid review, dude! I enjoy the record a great deal, although I feel it begins to lose steam near the end and I find my attention drifting while it plays. This review contains the type of attention to detail that makes one re-visit the more challenging songs though, so well done!
Thanks. Means alot.
11:31 AM on 08/10/10
#9
Scope6929
from the band Save The Future
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for some reason i can't get into this album.
i really like SSTB, IKSSE and some songs from Dear Apollo, but I find No World For Tomorrow and this one absolutely boring. Maybe it is Claudio's voice evolution.

agreed. I think the introduction of the electronic element was well placed but too overused in this cd
07:03 PM on 08/16/10
UnderclasHero
So long live us
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Couldnt get into this one. It shoulda sounded more like the old stuff
01:23 PM on 09/26/10
nineinchsin
Don't take it seriously
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I just read Thomas review and I noticed we both used "pre-conceived"
01:26 PM on 04/14/11
Sancho10
Registered User
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I absolutely hated this album... It was a such a let down for me

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