Coheed and Cambria is a band that’s grown on me steadily since hearing their third album, From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness, which featured probably their most famous song, Welcome Home. Easily more famous through the beginnings of the video game franchise Rock Band (which happened to utilize Welcome Home in their product as well as their advertising campaign), Coheed and Cambria has been around for some time now, releasing an amazing five albums in less than a ten year period. Most recently, the band released an album called Year of the Black Rainbow on April 13th.
While it doesn’t really evolve much from their last album, other than a mildly heavier sound that’s been a trend for the band between albums, Year of the Black Rainbow is still a great disc. As you may know, the band – led by singer Claudio Sanchez and guitarist Travis Stever – works with specific material for their lyrics, and they all flow in a narrative storyline that’s predestined by Sanchez’ own work. The singer created a science fiction comic called The Armory Wars, and all of the albums produced by Coheed and Cambria are concepts according to its storyline. Year of the Black Rainbow is no exception and stands as a prequel to the series.
Reportedly Sanchez states that the Columbia Records team working with him “have helped us evolve our sound to be more powerful and dynamic than ever and we think it’s definitely our best work to date.” While this newest album received mediocre reviews, and some fans would argue that this isn’t the best work, I lean towards Sanchez statement that it’s their best work to date. However, I only make that statement to say that their editing and lyrics have gained power in this new release since their last. Myself, I’m a bigger fan of their Second Stage Turbine Blade album, but that’s a matter of personal preference and the songs that I most easily associate with.
Regardless, Year of the Black Rainbow has a lot to offer long-time fans and newcomers alike. The first interesting thing about the album is that it’s being released as an optional deluxe edition. With the deluxe copy of the new album, Sanchez collaborated with best-selling author Peter David to create a 352-page novel of the same name. Along with this promising piece of fan merchandise that I haven’t yet got ahold of, the album offers several amazing tracks. Here We Are Juggernaut, the single from Year of the Black Rainbow, was released on March 9th. Accompanied with the technical pop-metal sound that the band has become so famous for, I can’t help but notice the prominence of the drums in the song. While the band’s drums have always been great, I think their new drummer Chris Pennie brings a more rounded rhythm than before. This Shattered Symphony, proclaiming my opinion of their somewhat harder metal roots being showcased, contains an undeniable speed-progressive quality. World of Lines, a fast-paced pattern track reminiscent of The Running Free, also stands out on the album, which largely feels like an album full of singles. Some critics have clung to that observation, stating Year of the Black Rainbow seems “flat and void of passion”, but I disagree. If a band can put out an album full of tracks that all listen like singles, it shows a sense of roundedness and comfort. Besides, the acoustic beginnings in Pearl of the Stars disprove their assumption, as it’s the first semi-harmonius track by Sanchez and Stever with a great electric solo toward the middle. Easily a science-fiction themed ballad, the song is my favorite of the album, in its exposing of Sanchez wide vocal range and Stever’s editing prowess. So, if you’re a fan of Coheed and Cambria, or you’re looking for a new sound, check out Year of the Black Rainbow.