Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Coheed and Cambria- Year of the Black Rainbow

Coheed and Cambria’s latest offering, Year of the Black Rainbow, is a lot like the band itself- You either enjoy the progressive rock sound fronted by lead vocalist Claudio Sanchez’s often changing, high voice, or you don’t. YOTBR will not change your mind.

This is not to say YOTBR does not advance the group’s sound. Each of their four previous albums tell different chapters of an ongoing story, so each album has focused on a slightly different sound appropriate for what’s currently going on in the tale.

Similarly, Sanchez’s voice often changes as he delivers bits of dialogue from various characters.

In YOTBR, a prequel to the Amory Wars saga being told by the previous four albums, the story is just beginning. Synthesizers occasionally dance through the background for retro effect and Claudio himself introduces listeners to two new voices, Coheed and Cambria. Despite the band’s name, YOTBR is the only part of the tale to feature these two characters and Cambria’s sweetly sinister highs match well to Coheeds dark and brooding lows.

Also, as the story is just getting started, shorter (three to five minutes) tracks take the place of the sweeping, epic multi-part numbers seen through much of the previous albums.

The ending is also of interest. Since the story is just beginning, the huge numbers that concluded the previous offerings are missing, replaced by a dark and ominous closing track that leaves the listener wondering “shouldn’t something happen next?” The answer, of course, is that something does happen next, and you’ll need to check out the next chapter in the story, The Second Stage Turbine Blade, to find out what that is.

As for me, I consider YOTBR a triumph. It is perhaps not as memorable as the first two albums (by release date) in the serious, but it’s much more consistent then the following two.

The album is atmospheric and a little depressing, but anyone who has followed the band on this odd musical journey knows things, eventually, get better.

Coheed and Cambria have never been known for filler tracks and YOTBR stays true to form. All twelve tracks have a purpose and none leave me wanting to reach for the skip button. I especially enjoyed This Shattered Symphony, Made out of Nothing (All that I am), the guilty pleasure Pearl of the Stars, and the satisfying finale, The Black Rainbow.

I’m not sure what Coheed and Cambria (the band) plan to do now that their space rock opera is complete, but I certainly hope they have more tales to tale with their music. The Amory Wars hasn’t been a perfect ride, but it’s been a mostly enjoyable one, and YOTBR ends it/begins it well.

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