Category Archives: Behrend Beacon Articles

These selections are articles that I’ve written for the Behrend Beacon while attending Penn State Behrend. I’ve also managed two sections, done pagination/design, and copy-edited for the whole paper as well. I have more articles in physical form but don’t have digital versions of them.

Dreamend’s ‘And the Tears Washed Me, Wave After Cowardly Wave’ (7/12/12)

Simply put, Dreamend boasts some of the best folk music since Andrew Jackson Jihad’s 2007 release People That Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World. Ryan Graveface’s lyrics and delivery on And the Tears Washed Me, Wave After Cowardly Wave are reminiscent of Elliot Smith while his electronica backing mixes flawlessly with raw acoustic folk, something not too many people are attempting in folk today.

Based in Savannah but formed in Chicago, Dreamend is the project of Ryan Graveface with a mix of other musicians and friends, from Mike Mularz to John Momberg, Lucas Oswald, and the wonderful voice of Maria Reichstadt on the track “Winter Wheat,” among others. Ryan has confessed that And the Tears is a sequel to 2010s So I Ate Myself, Bite by Bite. He reports on the band’s Facebook profile that the concept for the pair wraps around a “serial killer’s journal [where] part 1 covered a fairly large span of time in his life – childhood to his thirties [and] part 2 takes place after his initial taste for blood and accurately ends with his death.” In fact, Graveface describes Dreamend’s genre as “murder folk,” something bands like Andrew Jackson Jihad would probably adopt as well.

The rebellious tones, specifically in the movements of the keyboards and the layering of muffled vocals under the instruments rather than over in most cases, contribute to the disconnected narrative protagonist that Graveface has adopted for the project. I view the pinnacle moment of this narrative, the start of the killing so to speak, as the seventh song on the album, “God Went Out of Me.” Graveface really gets to the heart of feeling as if your routine has imprisoned you, essentially he’s bottled those moments where violent tendencies float into our heads and nihilism temporarily rules. As an obvious fact, the entirety of And the Tears surrounds death and the afterlife. “Cold & Dead” seems to ring as a romantic eulogy to death itself as if the protagonist is staring into the eyes of a deceased loved one, where their embrace has literally gone “cold” and “dead.”

“The Sick Cell Cabinet,” the single from the album if you could manage to pluck it from the coherent narrative, seems to suggest the brain as being a cabinet full of sick cells – specifically those not necessarily overt in our minds but would exist so in the mind of a serial killer. “Your Apparition Stays With Me Still” continues that repetition of loss and the desire to escape and get away from it all. The call and response between Ryan and the backup vocalist for the song really gets at the narrator talking to his conscience and essentially how guilt and grief can wear you away. “Mothers” calls out to mothers on the verge of insanity, as in all the cases of mothers murdering their children. Graveface seems to point to his protagonist having an abusive past here, singing to ‘all the other mothers’ and telling them not to leave because they’ve possibly made a better job of it than the protagonist’s own mother had. “Off Route 8” brings up the idea of repetition, that we’ve all been ‘down this road before’ and how we should ‘break down these walls’ of the everyday.

And the Tears feels like a voyage in itself much like any concept album should, clinging as much to its post-production rounding as to its raw acoustic effects. Dreamend carries the multi-instrumentalist techniques and baptizing vocal effects of Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Mangum, along with a knack for storytelling and an ear for etching raw regret. My favorites were the wonder in “Winter Wheat” and the nihilism of “God Went Out of Me.”

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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Behrend Beacon Articles


Chairlift’s ‘Something’ (7/12/12)

Taking big risks with their fame rather than taming themselves, Chairlift’s Brooklyn-based Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly have created a tribute to the synthesizer with their second album, Something, released this past January through Columbia Records. Working with that bigger label, whereas they were once under Kanine Records and were shot to fame with “Bruises” use in Apple advertising, has had a few effects on the band, I feel.

Where Something has embraced ‘80s sounds similar to Peter Gabriel and typical of dream-pop, this sound wasn’t where they began back in 2008 with Does You Inspire You. Simply looking at “Bruises,” the composition was a walking drum and bass line with a repeated synth pattern between verses and those verses essentially were the song. Polachek’s vocal range was inarguably the central focus of “Bruises,” besides possibly the breezy feel it projected. Overall, Inspire’s delivery was slower and more casual, debating love and relationships subtly in the vocal form of Lana Del Ray. Yet, in the case of “Make Your Mind Up” and select other tracks, the audience really got to hear the aggression Polachek was capable of, a power similar to that of Florence Welch. Also, the off-the-wall interlude “Chameleon Closet” from Inspire was a brooding preview for experimental and doom-laden tracks that sounded sure to come on upcoming albums.

Something, however, shatters most of those previous notions collected of this band. It would seem as if Chairlift has taken a turn for the worse, fully embracing the public appeal of “Bruises” as their definition and spinning a web somewhere in the ‘80s. “Take It Out on Me” revisits the auto-tuned sentiments of Imogen Heap, yet is somehow less captivating. Granted the band taps into the vintage style of The Cranberries in many cases such as “Ghost Tonight” and “Met Before,” yet the whole of the album is much too repetitive. At points when it slows down, as in the exposition of “Cool as a Fire,” Something really succeeds, tapping into a sort of crooning style that’s well-missed from that dream-pop era.

The energy of “Amanaemonesia” and “Sidewalk Safari” seem to be direct references to the ‘80s, a tendency for artists to make up new words that stretch well under manipulation and auto-tuning and a common urban fairy tale of making an everyday sidewalk into a childlike adventure. “Met Before” has similar lyrics and song length to She & Him’s material, describing a rekindled romance with a surf-like instrumental feel. The true, and desperately needed, success of the album comes with the song “Guilty as Charged,” not because it occurs at the end of the record but because it showcases Polachek’s fantastic vocals without post-editing or manipulation. Even though the song boasts a Jumanji-style bass beat from the get-go and emphasizes it through repeating it in the end, her somewhat casual vocal delivery is entrancing. When the beat rolls into repetitions and modifications in the latter half of the song, Wimberly is able to express some experimental and improvisational ability but it may be too little too late to save the album.

Essentially, if you’re looking to crown a Madonna of today, Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek may be your answer, but weighted against the strength of delivery that both Feist and Florence Welch have offered in recent years, you’re better off going back to those days of Genesis and the ‘Donna. The three tracks worth listening to on Something are “Sidewalk Safari,” “Amanaemonesia,” and “Guilty as Charged,” the last of which barely fits the rest of the album but strangely rises above in quality.

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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Behrend Beacon Articles


Horror Quickies: ‘Horsemen,’ ‘Eden Lake,’ and ‘Mirrors’ (1/19/11)

Horror Close-up: Horsemen

American horror has failed me again. This probably shouldn’t be a place for bad reviews, but I just can’t let anyone who reads this paper to view this movie. Horsemen, starring Dennis Quaid, examines a serial killer case based on the four horsemen of the apocalypse, which are outlined in the book of Revelation. In Christian theory, when the end of the world comes, four horsemen arrive in the order of a white horse, a red horse, a black horse, and a pale horse (referenced as green later in scripture). With each horseman, in the explanation of the serial killers from the film, comes an offering. Throughout the movie, the audience is subject to both ritualistic torture and a combination of bad acting and bad story structure.

Dennis Quaid plays a jaded detective, whose wife has died and with his demanding job, his relationship with his two sons is fading. His oldest son begins to rebel, as Quaid’s job becomes more demanding with the four horsemen case. There’s a token assistant detective that says all the key lines like, “What do we got here?” and “What if this situation was the case?” Does any of this sound familiar yet? It does to me. The main plot points and token characters are repeated time and time again in American mystery and horror films. Besides its rather original basis (religion-based killers have been rare in film-making since Seven), Horsemen lacks on many levels including the fact that most of the plot twists are easily detectable. The ending is rather bland, and the crime scenes are very repetitive. So, all in all, I give this new release, Horsemen, a 5 out of 10 and say skip it, unless you’re a fan of redundancy.

Horror Close-Up: Eden Lake      

“One of the most provocative and terrifying thrillers of the year,” says Empire Magazine. This week, I had the pleasure of reviewing Eden Lake. The film stars Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender, two up-and-coming British stars, but the biggest triumph of the film was the writing and directing from James Watkins. The plot centers around a couple who are looking for a romantic getaway at a remote wooded lake. They bring things to camp out there next to the water when a group of rowdy teenagers begins to party on the beach. Their loud music and interruptive pets causes the boyfriend (Michael Fassbender) to say something to them. He doesn’t get anywhere as they hurl insulting attitudes toward him after he asked for them to turn the music down. He returns to his girlfriend, and when darkness falls, the teenagers leave the beach.

Without revealing any good parts of the film, the couple soon finds themselves dealing with not only the deranged and sheltered group of teenagers acting out a savage revenge scheme but with the parents and townspeople of the houses they came from. It was honestly a refreshing film in the horror genre. Not many films have the courage to explore the element of survival along with the presence of strong love between an on-screen couple, which Reilly and Fassbender clearly have. In my opinion, the film sort of explored the intertwining of two films: The Warriors and The Descent. Not as to say Eden Lake is the complete combination of those two films, but it does combine the basis of rebellious violent teenagers in The Warriors and the survivalist style of The Descent.

All in all, Eden Lake was original and did well in portraying a deranged, remote atmospheric plot, set in place by James Watkins. The film was actually scary on several different levels as it could actually happen, as opposed to monsters running rampant in other horror films. So, this week’s horror selection, Eden Lake, gets a 8 out of 10 from me. Check it out, and see what you think.

Horror Close-Up: Mirrors

“We are so entranced by mirrors, not because of us seeing an image of ourselves, but because we go through life never really knowing how we do what we do. So, in seeing that in a mirror or reflection, we welcome a certain element of wonder and entrancing power,” a quote from actress Paula Patton playing the part of Amy Carson in the film Mirrors, which I just finished watching.
All there is to say is, wow, what an amazing piece of genre gold from writer/director Alexandre Aja – most well-known for his film The Hills Have Eyes. For some of you, that previous work of his will either be a turn-off or a turn-on to see Mirrors, but you should know to not let any influence from The Hills Have Eyes lead you to believe that this film is at all similar. That being said, Alexandre Aja has come a long way from amateur horror to be a huge part of the creation of Mirrors.
Originally a Korean-created film by Kim Sung Ho called Into the Mirror, the American-written version re-titled Mirrors, stars Keifer Sutherland as Ben Carson, an ex-cop who gets a temporary job as an overnight security guard of a prized shopping center that had recently been the victim of an arson. Inside the large shopping center, resembling that of a Macy’s-style setup, he finds several rooms of mirrors. As the nights continue, he begins to see things in the mirrors and also starts finding out several things about the employees of the building before him. A haunting history is unveiled behind the building and several shocking cinematic moments unfold that all lead to a very unexpected and original ending! The movie which pulls together elements from classics like The Shining and The Exorcist alike, also stars Amy Smart – best known from Road Trip – starring as Ben’s close sister, Angela Carson. Overall, the movie was a great watch with several jumpy moments and spreading an overwhelming interest in the well-written story. I give it a 9 out of 10. Check it out, and see what you think.

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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Behrend Beacon Articles


The Fall of the Vocalist (2/3/10)

Some recent trends in music show a definite loss of vocal emphasis. If you’ve heard late 50s/early 60s “rock and roll”, guitars were prominent but not dominant. A strong emphasis was still placed on vocals. I think that since then and even more frequently nowadays, we are seeing a huge wave of “band” music. By that I mean, all members of a band focusing their talents to the best of their abilities, essentially making the best of the music. In my opinion, the vocals “fall” with these decisions, or aren’t as prominent as they once were. The truth is there’s a bigger market for voice modification and the technological mixtures of vocal soundings, because the artist inherently distorts their voice to make a new and original sound. A mass example of this would be T-Pain’s career, as well as several other recent hip-hop artists, and a slightly lesser known example would be Modest Mouse or Tom Waits. It isn’t that these artists aren’t good at what they do; they are just creating a new trend of voice modification that’s very interesting.

Simply put, the band no longer looks to magnify the singer, but vice versa in most cases. Folk and “Indie”, what I personally listen to most, are great genres that are showcasing this. Low-fi recording is one way that I can think of off-hand that seems to be coming up a lot. The Mountain Goats built the majority of their rather prolific, early recording career on low-fi sound, most notably with the album All Hail West Texas. That album sounds a lot like if you combined a CB radio with their vocalist John Darnielle’s pattern of amazing lyrics. Fleet Foxes, recently in the folk spotlight, create what has come to be called a “gentle wooze” in their harmonic folk, which sounds rather slow and rigid in a loose composition, if that makes sense. Iron and Wine, on the other hand, sort of battles this belief of declining vocals considering the singer, Sam Beam, is the main focus of that music. It shows on their album Shepherd’s Dog, released in 2007 and marking their gradual shift to a style that’s less “folky” and more “indie” in its focus on voice.

However, even with this trend in “band as a whole” movement, the instruments are becoming great windows into the lives of their players. Dead Confederate, who I’m calling a modern-day Nirvana, has a grunge-folk song called Wrecking Ball, by which they actually named their album. It has simple day-in-the-life lyrics with a ballad-type chorus, but in my opinion, shows the true heart of Hardy Morris – from his Seattle upbringing to the project he started the battles Nirvana’s shadow. The simple blues arrangement in a song that grinds so originally at points is sort of a work of genius. Separately, you have artists that are strictly instrumental, as in Andy McKee. McKee works to bind acoustic slaps with well-timed picking to create an amazing relaxing sound, where you are literally left with the name of the song for guidance. Since he has titles like When She Cries and For My Father, his audience receives the notion of hardship. Yet, the majority of his songs end on peaceful tones.

The point I’m getting at is that music is expanding. In the “mainstream” sense music is slacking, creating simple words and power chords that bands like Hinder, Nickelback, and Three Days Grace pounce all over and throw rather unfairly into the teenage ears of their listeners; however, when music is devoured by truth and stands with real meaning, I am forced to look at folk and indie. They stand as the most personal genres and whether they utilize types of voice modification or not, they are carving a new niche and I feel everyone should be a part of it.

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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Behrend Beacon Articles


Coachella Festival Preview (3/4/10)

Thankfully, summer is on its way, and with the warmer weather comes the tendency for people to put on music festivals. Warped Tour hits this summer, but there is festival much closer in time, even though it’s at the opposite end of the country. Coachella Music and Arts Festival hits Indio, California, for a 3-day weekend, April 16-18. They showcase both up-and-coming artists as well as seasoned veterans of their genre on multiple stages, everything from Coheed and Cambria to Jay-Z. The amazing thing about their schedule is that it’s such a variety. I wish I could discuss all of the artists in this article, but there is only time to pick a few that are established and a few that are somewhat unknown.

                On Friday, April 16th, the band As Tall As Lions performs. Probably most famous for their song, Love Love Love, they’ve carved a spot in the indie scene, mixing sort of a trance-like jazz sound with Coldplay-type vocals. Kickin’ Myself is another good track by them, and it’s where you really here the amazing vocal range of lead singer Daniel Nigro. In contrast to As Tall As Lions’ breezy indie sounds, the cult legend Echo and the Bunnymen will also be performing on Friday. Their post-punk sounds, and their creation of a sort of ‘80s grunge, were best seen from the soundtrack to the film, Donnie Darko, which featured The Killing Moon. Easily their most famous recording, The Killing Moon, became a hit in 1983 and reached the top twenty charts of both America and their home of England. Yeasayer, a band of recent fame in the NPR scene, will also be playing. Yeasayer creates a very interesting and original indie sound. The way they meld instrumental variety and often harmonized vocals is truly amazing to me, for the exact reason that it is so layered and different from most other music I’m listening to. Tightrope is a good track by them, as well as Wait for the Summer. Other notable artists performing on Friday: The Avett Brothers, Grizzly Bear, She & Him, Jay-Z, Vampire Weekend, and The Dillinger Escape Plan.

                The following day, Saturday April 17th, holds a mind-blowing assortment of artists including legendary Primus member and bass master, Les Claypool. For starters, MGMT is a band that has combined 70s style music with electronica to create an amazingly original sound that has surprisingly reached the height of popularity. The band doesn’t have specific songs I would suggest, other than maybe Electric Feel and Kids, because in all honesty, the entire album of Oracular Spectacular is good. MGMT is also working on a new album that’s set to hit stores April 13 called Congratulations. Portugal the Man is yet another brilliant band to grace the stage of Coachella. PTM creates an original, trance-like sound with most of their songs although they began with rather harshly instrumental roots. They often harmonize in their songs as well, with tracks like The Sun and The Woods coming from their 2008 album The Satanic Satanist, as well as more recent tracks like The Dead Dog from their newest album, American Ghetto. Old Crow Medicine Show will also be there with their 6-member folk ensemble that carries bluegrass as well as country influences with them. Their last three albums have all hit number one on the US Bluegrass charts, with the highest praise coming to their newest album, Tennessee Pusher. Probably best known for their songs Down Home Girl and Wagon Wheel, a tribute to Bob Dylan’s work, Old Crow Medicine Show can’t be missed. Again, in contrast to OCMS, Porcupine Tree is playing at Coachella in all of their splendor. This band is one that I’ve loved for some time now. Their lead singer, Steven Wilson, created Porcupine Tree in 1987 and has been what I view as carrying the flame of Roger Waters from Pink Floyd. Porcupine Tree’s music is much like Pink Floyd’s, yet the forms of metal and progressive are seen more in the mix with that psychadelic trance. Some of their best songs are Fear of a Blank Planet, Normal, and Dark Matter, the latter being the first song I heard by them and actually had it mistaken with Pink Floyd’s work. It’s that good. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros are also playing. This ten person Indie/Pop ensemble band led by Alex Ebert, is probably most famous for their highly praised album Up From Below and specifically the track, Home. The song demonstrates an amazing 70s-style semi-harmonius sound with a story to tell, and this band does it well. Other notable artists performing Saturday: Coheed and Cambria, Muse, RX Bandits, Tokyo Police Club, and Faith No More.

                Finally, Sunday April 18th, seems to hold the most unkown artists, and thereby promising new discoveries. Deerhunter is best known for their ambient punk sound that’s really revived an odd mix of Sonic Youth and The Killers sounds. Agoraphobia and Strange Lights are great songs by them, as well as anything of the Microcastle EP. Florence and the Machine highlights musician Florence Welch performing with a four-member support band. Their sound is also another mix of Indie and Pop, but her vocals really stand out against her contemporaries, as she reminds me of another Karen O figure (from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). Simultaneously, the material they’ve produced has an undeniable and rather original element of soul music. Florence and the Machine is best known for their songs Dog Days and Kiss With A Fist. Local Natives, an indie based rock group from Los Angeles, recently released an album in February called Gorilla Manor. With it being their first album to be released in the US, they obviously had to meat certain expectations, and they did! The band has been a feature on NPR for some time, as well as played on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Best known for their harmonized vocals, I suggest the songs Wide Eyes, Sun Hands, and Airplanes. The French Alternative Indie Rock group Phoenix will also be playing at Coachella. Achieving almost instant fame once their material hit American shores, they are most famous for the song 1901 and their only US-released album called Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Another couple of songs I would suggest by them are If I Ever Feel Better and Everything is Everything. Recently formed in 2007, the Swedish band Miike Snow will be performing. Also gaining NPR fame upon American arrival, they’re best known for their self-titled album and the opening track, Animal. Other notable artists playing on Sunday: Spoon, Sunny Day Real Estate, Mutemath, Thom Yorke (Radiohead), and Gorillaz.

                While this show is in California, and I don’t expect many of you to get out there for the festival, I’ve still provided a variety of bands that can’t be missed. They’re obviously doing great things in the music industry or Coachella wouldn’t sign them to perform. Check them out and see what you think. If you’re anything like me, their music will literally make your day on some days and be exactly what you wanted to hear.

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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Behrend Beacon Articles


John Butler Trio’s ‘Revolution’ (3/25/10)

John Butler Trio, a band that defies genres (as they are equally reggae as they are alternative and as equally pop as they are rock), has been around since their emergence in the late 90s. With Bryon Luiters and Nicky Bomba, John Butler completes a very talented three-person band that’s steadily gaining popularity, mostly through internet fame. The band creates a sort of breezy, alternative rock sound much in the style of State Radio and Barenaked Ladies, except the speed of Butler’s delivery showcases more of an original sound than his contemporaries.

                Last year, one of my friends showed them to me, and with it happening to be the Sunrise Over Sea album, I immediately loved the beat and pace of their material.  From quick guitar patterns in Bound to Ramble and Company Sin to slower, more ballad-like songs like Seeing Angels and What You Want, Sunrise Over Sea was one of my frequented summer albums between my freshman and sophomore years here. When I found out through Facebook that the band was releasing a new album, I was immediately excited. This is yet another album that will easily be a part of my summer, because it’s just one of those albums that you put in the car and cruise to.

                The new album is called April Uprising, conveniently released on the sixth of April, and with it comes an expansion of sound for the band. Since their older albums, they’ve gotten better at guitar (even though it would be hard for them to do better) and they’ve gotten “poppier” with come of their material. That’s the only problem I had with the album. It speaks greatly to a younger audience when I think their genre and older material speaks much more to adults. The two songs that show this, and the only two songs on the whole album that I even mildly disliked, were C’mon Now and Johnny’s Gone. The rest of the album, on the contrary, is a huge success.

                Revolution, the first song on the album, is what I would call one of the singles. Taking a political standpoint, as so many Alt-Reggae musicians do, the song preaches a revolution to take back what America’s citizens lost in the war: lives. One Way Road, the second of my prescribed singles, is a very vocally fast and sounds like it would be amazing live. Amidst a semi-pop sound is this overcoming tale of someone who doesn’t want to be nobody, subsequently how conformity is a “one way road”. The last “single” (as the album wasn’t released to airwaves for this band to have any singles), Close to You, showcases a moderately technical sound with guitar reminiscent of 70s style. Obviously a love song, as are many of John Butler Trio’s songs, Close to You has a really interesting African drum and guitar solo toward the middle, showing off the band’s apparent practice and diversity. Three other songs that stood out are: Steal It (for its chilled out bass-driven ballad quality),I’d Do Anything (another politically-based song about our soldiers; particularly the ones in love), and Fool For You (also for its chilled out, trance-like beginning that develops into a fast-paced ballad, and in my opinion, encompasses the style of the entire album). So, if you’re looking for a new sound, check out John Butler Trio’s new album, April Uprising.

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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Behrend Beacon Articles


Coheed Discovers Gold at End of ‘Black Rainbow’ (4/11/11)

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.

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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Behrend Beacon Articles