Release Date: Apr 13, 2010
Record label: Sony
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative, Metal
Their best record to date... Coheed And Cambria are always at their finest when they’re being dramatic, and as such ‘Year Of The Black Rainbow’ is possibly their best record to date. Most notably, though, it’s definitely a prog-rock record, and it’s important to underline this as they’ve arguably only flirted with the genre so far. ‘Here We Are Juggernaut’ is one of the finest songs they’ve recorded.
For those who have followed Coheed and Cambria's Amory Wars saga from the beginning, Year of the Black Rainbow will scratch the itch of fulfillment until it bleeds. This is the musical prequel (please leave your Star Wars jokes at the door) to vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist Claudio Sanchez's saga, concluding the the longest concept album in rock history -- five volumes' worth. It is lofty in its pretensions, but there is so much great music here, that even when its influences and filler are subtracted, it stands as a monolithic testament to singular ambition, focus, and realization.
The Year of the Black Rainbow finds Coheed and Cambria in an interesting position. This is their fifth album, and supposedly the last in a series of concept records telling the epic sci-fi story of the Amory Wars and the titular characters Coheed and Cambria and their family. However, the previous album, No World for Tomorrow was in fact the closing chapter of the saga, leaving this one as a prequel to the main story.
For those short on knowledge of Coheed and Cambria’s unwittingly emo-centric canon, they quite literally have a storied past. This not only stems from fractures in the band’s core membership throughout the course of their now five-album output, but their name is actually derived from the tales (and graphic novels) of conceptual protagonists, ‘Coheed’ and ‘Cambria’. Frontman Claudio Sanchez pens the entire thing, forming a graphic novel centrepiece around the band's musical core and emphasising the their fondness for fantasy and suspension of disbelief.
Concept albums about fictional galaxies? Prog-rock noodling from men with Mott the Hoople barnets? Surely this is the last sort of thing sulky social-network- obsessed teens with vision-obscuring fringes should be getting excited about? But 45 seconds into The Broken, the opener of C&C's fifth album, all becomes clear. The first of many, many soaring, wailing "woe is me" choruses announces itself, and the dizzying guitar exchanges that intervene are just killing time before setting the controls for the heart of Linkin Park territory again. "Nothing matters anymoooooore," bleats Claudio Sanchez, the New York four-piece's frontman, on Here We Are Juggernaut, suggesting that the only real concept here is the cynical targeting of morose adolescents.
Having concluded their four-part prog-rock space opera (no, really) with 2007’s No World for Tomorrow, Coheed and Cambria now presents fans with their very own Phantom Menace. Year of the Black Rainbow serves as a prequel to the convoluted tale of cyborgs and spaceships stretched across each of the band’s previous studio albums (a deluxe edition of the new album even includes a 352-page novel penned by singer Claudio Sanchez). For the unconverted, it’s probably impossible to care, but the band’s fanbase includes a zealous core of close readers who make a hobby of decrypting and debating Sanchez’s narrative with the type of conspiratorial fervor typically reserved for Lost fans and Tea Party activists.
The prog-metal quartet’s fifth album is full of fascinating, stirring moments. Mischa Pearlman 2010 Coheed and Cambria don’t just make albums. They’re part of a grand concept – musical counterparts to The Amory Wars, a comic book series written by the band’s singer and guitarist, Claudio Sanchez. Year of the Black Rainbow is the New York quartet’s fifth album and the prequel to the progressive metallers’ ongoing narrative.
I prepared to review Coheed & Cambria’s fifth studio album, Year of the Black Rainbow, by immersing myself in their entire discography and mythos for the last two weeks. I know these albums very well now, and what follows may spark disappointment (towards the band) and outrage (towards me). YOTBR is a huge letdown, quite possibly standing as their weakest album.