Year Of The Black Rainbow Review

artist: Coheed and Cambria date: 04/16/2010 category: compact discs
Coheed and Cambria: Year Of The Black Rainbow
Released: Apr 13, 2010
Genre: Alternative Rock, Progressive Rock
Label: Columbia Records
Number Of Tracks: 12
Coheed And Cambria's fifth album is a dynamic, texture-filled offering in the Armory Wars saga.
 Sound: 8.3
 Lyrics: 8.3
 Overall Impression: 8.7
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reviews (6) 88 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8.3
Year Of The Black Rainbow Featured review by: UG Team, on april 16, 2010
6 of 8 people found this review helpful

Sound: Coheed And Cambria marches forward (or in this case looks to the past) with their Armory Wars saga and expands its musical palette with the fifth studio album Year of the Black Rainbow. While the trademark Coheed style is never jettisoned, there is certainly a more dynamic sound that was likely aided by the sleek production skills of Atticus Ross (Nine Inch Nails, Jane's Addiction) and Joe Barresi (Tool, Queens of the Stone Age). While there aren't any songs that are experimentally over-the-top, Year of the Black Rainbow shines with its creative use of textures and not surprisingly Claudio Sanchez and Travis Stever's guitar-god sensibility.

As a prequel to the Armory Wars story, Year of the Black Rainbow is a strong offering within Coheed's sci-fi series. It also marks a turning point for Coheed's career with the studio debut of drummer Chris Pennie, whose skills are put to good use thanks to a good deal of up-tempo tracks. In many ways, the story is told even more effectually with the additions of layered, futuristic sound effects. Tracks like Guns of Summer and Here We Are Juggernaut integrate samples/keyboard sounds that seem fit for the science fiction genre. To those who are now afraid that Coheed has delved into electronic, don't worry. The guitars always overshadow any digital beats.

Year of the Black Rainbow is driven by a more cinematic approach than previous albums in the Armory Wars series. Rather than the record immediately jumping into a random radio single, it is kicked off by One, a dramatic, almost haunting interlude that revolves around a quiet piano line. It's relatively short and sweet, but if anything it sets a mood. The next track The Broken features Sanchez/Stever's riff mastery, rich harmonies, and a variety of layered instrumentation. While plenty of tracks are driven by guitar work, The Broken and Guns of Summer are highlights because the leads and chugging rhythms carry the song from beginning to end.

Upon hearing the ominous opening riff in This Shattered Symphony, you might believe that Sanchez and Stever are channeling their inner Tony Iommi but the thrill is short-lived. Like many of the album's songs, the focus is more upon the core songwriting and the melodies delivered via the Sanchez's vocals. For as many energetic tracks as there are on Year of the Black Rainbow, the mellow Pearl of the Stars one of the most memorable. An acoustic-based ballad in the vein of the Prize Fighter Inferno, it features a lower vocal style from Sanchez that makes him sound like a completely different person. Production-wise, the clean sound allows the skillful musicianship to come to the forefront. // 8

Lyrics: It's difficult not to be engaged by the lyrical content because there is a dialogue-rich approach to most of the tracks. In lieu of typical rhyme schemes are intriguing conversations and topics that stray far away from the typical love/sex/anger themes that dominate so much of the rock world. Whether it's When Skeletons Live (She wheezes out her dying wish; Come closer one more moment; one more kiss) or Here We Are Juggernaut (We were stupid; We got caught; Nothing matters anymore; So what? Here we are Juggernaut), there is an action-oriented aspect that paints a vivid portrait. // 9

Overall Impression: The main complaint with Year of the Black Rainbow is that there are a few songs that tease with fleeting riffs. Sanchez and Stever have such a keen sense of a perfect rock riff, and it wouldn't hurt to let the lead work shine a little more often. Many will argue that the base melody is more important in the long run, and Year of the Black Rainbow isn't short on catchy tunes. While there aren't any songs that carry the effect of Welcome Home, the album is still a solid and often complex work of rock. // 8

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overall: 8.7
Year Of The Black Rainbow Reviewed by: Kwyjibo2006, on april 16, 2010
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: It's been two and a half years since New York prog-rockers Coheed & Cambria released "No World For Tomorrow", the final chapter in front-man Claudio Sanchez's epic sci-fi saga, The Amory Wars. I, like so many other Coheed fans around the world, found myself asking where the band would go from there. My answer was found in Year of the Black Rainbow, prequel to the tale of treachery and love that has been the basis of everything Coheed and Cambria since the band's inception in 1995. 15 years later, the band proves that they can still create a unique blend of progressive and alternative rock, a fact that is commendable on it's own. On Year of the Black Rainbow, the band continues to push their boundaries, while also staying true to their roots, returning to a style reminiscent of In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (a pleasant surprise for fans who were left somewhat disappointed by the band's previous release). This time around, the band has found the perfect balance, mixing the best of the old and the new to create a simply astounding sound. The album opens with "One", an almost ethereal track filled with a beautiful piano line that truly feels like a beginning, before slamming into "The Broken" a catchy rocker with some brilliant guitar work by Claudio and Travis Stever (see the chorus and the solo), a great bass-line from Michael Todd and great drum-work throughout by Chris Pennie (of Dillinger Escape Plan fame). His drumming truly kicks into overdrive with the crushing speed of "Guns of Summer". The band makes excellent use of synthesizers during the track before leading into the lead single, "Here We Are Juggernaut". Next up is the first soft track on the album, entitled "Far", with programmed drums and a syrupy guitar line which goes perfectly with Claudio's vocals. But not to worry, the guitar hooks are back on "This Shattered Symphony", a rolling song with more great drums from Chris. After two more steady rockers the band return with the truly beautiful "Pearl of the Stars". The track begins with a pretty acoustic riff which makes can almost make you think of 2005's "Always and Never" before going into what is quite possibly Claudio's most emotional guitar solo ever. A truly beautiful track, it is definitely one of the best tracks on the album. After "In The Flame of Error" and "Where Skeletons Live", the album ends with the distant thunder of "The Black Rainbow". A truly epic track, it is the perfect end to the album and start to the tale of Coheed and Cambria. // 9

Lyrics: A problem that most listeners and critics have with Coheed and Cambria are the lyrics. The story aspect of the band has always been a little unfriendly to the casual listener, but thankfully, Year of the Black Rainbow is the least "story-like" of all Coheed's albums. While the album still tells a tale, the lyrics could very well stand on their own. Claudio's voice is on top form (as always) throughout the album, with highlights such as "The Broken" and proving that he truly is an amazing vocalist, once you get used to his higher voice. His screams are back on tracks like "Here We Are Juggernaut" while he proves that his syrupy vocals are as beautiful as always on ballad "Pearl of the Stars". Yes, the singing and the lyrics are growers for the first-time listener, but once you get used to it, Claudio's words can be truly amazing. // 8

Overall Impression: And so ends The Amory Wars. 15 years of trying times, epic solos and shows around the world, the band's epic story is finally complete (on a side-note, the album will be released with a deluxe edition, containing a 350-page novel telling the tale before The Amory Wars). As for what happens to Coheed and Cambria, who knows? What I do know, however is that, with Year of the Black Rainbow, Coheed and Cambria have penned a beautiful ending; a beautiful beginning. // 9

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overall: 9
Year Of The Black Rainbow Reviewed by: Zapfire, on april 16, 2010
1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: As many know, Coheed and Cambria are almost inarguably one of the most unique bands around today. They have created a style incredibly unique to themselves and have an extremely loyal fanbase as well as a extremely loyal hater base. Despite that, Coheed continues to put out albums and Year of the Black Raibow is their latest. The sound of the album is completely different due to the fact that Claudio, the primary songwriter, took a different approach to the songwriting on this release. Usually, he would write based off guitar, but instead, he began with loops and wrote over them bringing a new aspect into the picture. The songs are all intertwined with synths and loops which really help to bring out the other parts as well. Another unique aspect to their music is the story that follows each album, this one being the last of the series, even though it is the prequel. The story definitely takes a backseat to the music on this album, I would say more so than their previous efforts. I think that they did a fantastic job on their 5th release, making something that truly hits hard to a listener. // 9

Lyrics: Claudio Sanchez is one of the more talented lyricists that exists today. It is hard for one to say he doesn't put pure passion into the words he writes. For one, there is the story aspect that comes into play with the words, but he also infuses his own personal experiences into them as well. On some songs, it seems he was striving more for a catchy or powerful chorus (World of Lines, Juggernaut) but it's not always bad. On Juggernaut especially, the chorus really gets a listener pumped, and that takes effort without a doubt. Overall, not the best lyrics he has ever done, but certainly not terrible at all. // 8

Overall Impression: I don't believe that I could compare this album to anyone other than themselves. They have outdone their previous release (No World For Tomorrow) easily, and possibly even their third album (Good Appolo I). There are just so many peices and parts to every single song that every time you listen you can almost hear something new. The addition of Chris Pennie (finally) on drums is evident and he shines throughout. Lastly, the producers really brought out the best in the guitars and bass and there are different and unique tones on every song. My favorites would have to be Guns Of Summer, World Of Lines, and When Skeletons Live, along with the first single The Broken. Coheed backed up all the hype for this release by putting out a fantastic album. // 10

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overall: 8.7
Year Of The Black Rainbow Reviewed by: unregistered, on april 16, 2010
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: This album was nothing like I thought it would be. With the prog titans that are Coheed, that was what I expected when first listening to it. But after One and the single The Broken, You're in for a very strange, twisting and turning album at first listen. I wasn't too impressed with the album after my first listen, but it being Coheed, made me press on and re-visit the album. I have to say, that unintentionally I just kept repeat listening to the album since I received the deluxe edition in the mail on Monday. After a while, I have to admit that this is another work of genius. With this album being the prequel to Second Stage Turbine Blade, number 1 for fans of the band, the sound on this album is quite fitting. That is one thing that Claudio and the boys do so well. There is the massive Sci-Fi epic that is the Amory wars threaded throughout all their music, but they're also up to complete interpretation. The sound is pretty epic. The tones that producers Atticus Ross, Joe Barresi obtained add to this production. Their sideways views on recording helped to push the band. If you get a chance to watch the Bonus DVD, do so and you'll see what I mean. Also, this is Chris Pennie's first official recording with the band. His overall style of playing really adds to this album. I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot, but there is just so much complexity in everything this band does. // 8

Lyrics: They lyrics, Not much can be said about the lyrics besides the fact that they are spectacular,. All of the lyrics for Coheed and Cambria have the underlying theme for the story, while also telling Claudio's current frame of mind. This makes for an intriguing album. The way that Claudio molds lyrics around the melodies of the songs also stands out along with his signature voice that love it or hate it, is damned powerful and add to the great mystique that is Coheed and Cambria. // 9

Overall Impression: While it is not my favorite Coheed album, this is most definitely a welcome addition to the family. It sounds weird the first couple of listens, but this is the album that it had to be. For it to be a fitting prequel album, it had to be a little more gritty in sound and song writing. That molded together with the addition of Prize Fighter Inferno elements, really adds to this album. Some of my favorite songs on the album are, Here We Are-Juggernaut, Pearl Of The Stars, and In The Flame of Error. Really, they all grow on me each time I hear them. I've grown to appreciate the varied degree of songs on here, including the metal drumkit played on Far. The only problem I really have with the album is the fact that the Sampling over powers a few parts and sometimes the guitars and bass get lost in that mix. Claudio, Michael, and Travis are all exceptional and very proficient players so that's the only shame about the album. If lost or stolen I would definitely buy another one. Although not my favorite, the album still holds up and this is one band that is too damn good not to own the hard copy of the album. // 9

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overall: 8
Year Of The Black Rainbow Reviewed by: thenevide, on may 28, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: I've been a fan of Coheed And Cambria for a while, and one thing I've noticed is their natural growth as a band. No two records are alike, and Year Of The Black Rainbow again brings something fresh to the foreground. Year Of The Black Rainbow is the prequel as it were to the main story behind Coheed And Cambria, which was finished on their last album, No World For Tomorrow. Reliving the point of diversity, Coheed here have taken another new approach, different to the darkness of Good Apollo, the funky tunes of No World For Tomorrow, and the rawer sounds of In Keeping Secrets and Second Stage Turbine Blade. They have spent no time dwelling in the past, and have embraced new technology and recording possiblities. The result is a barrage of new sounds, synth lines, atmospheric effects, all adding up to build up their new sound. Some moments, much like the guitar work of 'The Broken', you can hear the classic Coheed guitar work, combining together very well. The main thing that this album needed to achieve, was to develop as a band, and venture into new territory. But at simultaneously, they must keep that piece of magic that makes Coheed what they are. They have achieved this well! And fans who have turned the backs on Coheed need to understand that bands need to evolve, they need to grow, to become better! // 8

Lyrics: As with most Coheed records, I was once again very very impressed with the lyrical work by Claudio Sanchez. He has something unique and special around his words; he can word everything pretty much perfect, adding a real charm to the music. Personally, I prefer lyrics coated in mysterious meaning. I like to think what he may be singing about, and whilst thinking you can develop things and words to relate to! Although I usually have nothing but praise for Coheed's lyrics, this album didn't seem to match up to records like Good Apollo and In Keeping Secrets. Granted, they are still very good, just not as good. But yet again, it could be the new style they have gone for, and I can accept that! His vocal rhythms also work very well with the music. For example, again with 'The Broken', the guitar work isn't straight forward, with strange beats. The vocals kind of mirror the guitar work, and almost fit to perfection! Also the lyrics from 'Far' are stand out within the chorus, with the line 'Please, this is what I can give, what else do you need, from me', being executed brilliantly. As always, Claduio Sanchez powers out his utterly unique vocal style, that for me never seems to tire. He has so much natural character to his voice and so much versatility, that he can sing low register, high register and full off a very individual scream! Of course I can appreciate that his voice is'nt for everybody. I mean even at first I was a bit sceptical! But now, I can only appreciate his ability in singing and voice manipulation! // 8

Overall Impression: It's a very solid album from Coheed And Cambria. In my opinion, it is better than No World For Tomorrow, but I can't see it going down as an absolute classic, as the first three records did. For me, the best songs of the album had to be: - The Broken - Far - Pearl Of The Stars - The Black Rainbow I love the new the sound they have gone for. To be honest I have always favoured an album with loads and loads of effects on it, as it just seems to effect the subconscious in an intriguing yet awesome way! For me the album was let down by the lyrics here and there, and some songs seem a bit rushed, with the guitar work very simple, and the vocal lines a bit boring, with no inventiveness within. 'When Skeletons Live' was a dissapointment, and I felt that if it was performed by a band I hadn't heard of, I probably wouldn't listen to it. Regardless of it's flaws, If it was stolen or lost...Of course I would buy it again. Theres nothing like supporting your favourite bands by buying legit records! For me so far, this is the stand out album of 2010, consistent and fresh. // 8

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overall: 8
Year Of The Black Rainbow Reviewed by: mr_metal121, on april 16, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Coheed and Cambria's 2010 effort is in my opinion a stray from the earlier works but still may prove to be the groups best work to date. CoCa's albums have always been based on frontman/guitarist Claudio Sanchez's graphic novel series "The Amory Wars" which in itself a quirky concept to base your musical career on. Year of the Black Rainbow is a very epic album itself and sets a really good mood for the concept to take over. The production is well-done and features appropriate effects and dynamics when needed such as multi-layering, echoes and reverb etc. The song writing is great and the group has really gone forward with this release, I personally enjoy their music for their variety release after release and Black Rainbow is no exception, it stands alone in Coheeds discography and shows a real progression in songwriting ability and musicianship. Coheed and Cambria's style has been a bit of a question mark, earlier efforts have been called "emo" or "post-rock" as the years have gone so has their sound, which has progressed into something in itself. You hear sounds found in other genres and they mix their influences into their own unique style. // 8

Lyrics: As said before frontman Claudio Sanchez writes the lyrics based on his graphic novel series "The Amory Wars", I personally haven't studied the concept thoroughly so I don't know alot of what's going on with the lyrics and themes. Nevertheless the songwriting and music itself is written well and isn't a massive cheese-fest. This album features memorable hooks and catchy choruses and verses, the multi-layered production also gives an epic feel, so the songs stick in your head and really hits well, I especially love the choruses in "Here we are Juggernaut" and "Far" which are IMO some of the top tracks on the album. Claudio's unique and soaring vocal work really puts an emphasis on the lyrics and brims them with passion and emotion. There's no half ass work here which gives a more personal edge to the whole album, the band sound like they enjoyed making this record and hold it close to them. // 8

Overall Impression: This is very different to CoCa's previous releases, which is good and bad in ways. Good because it shows maturing musicianship and progression, nobody wants the same album 5 times in a row. Bad, because some fans of the early work may feel alienated and uncomfortable with the new edge that's driving them head first through their successful career. I personally and honestly accept this album with open arms and haven't stopped listening to it since I received it. The memorable hooks found in choruses, the great musician-ship, vocal work, the production, it fits well and if this is any indication of where the band is heading then we're definitely in for a ride. The top tracks for me are. (in no order) Far Guns of Summer Pearl of Stars Here we are Juggernaut In the flame of Error Definitely a high point in Coheed and Cambria's catalog, in my opinion their best work to date, hopefully this is motive to drive them further and keep creating amazing music. They have their own sound developed now and all they have to do is mold it correctly and they can achieve great things. Year of the black Rainbow is an indicator of a well-developed and hard working group of musicians. // 8

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