Review Summary: this line is everlasting, pushing forward, never crashing
I recently read an interview with Coheed guitarist Travis Stever on UltimateGuitar and yeah, it really made my day. Next to the standard talk about the new album and the guitar/gear he is using, he furthermore brought up some words about the significance of the prominent concept behind the band and their studio outputs. Myself being an absolute ignoramus of the whole tale (never bothered at all, sorry), he admittedly couldn't adjust my sentiments towards epic sci-fi-sagas, but he made me feel better about it by more or less saying that the concept is in large part only the bearer of lyrics arisen from stories out of Claudios own life. Continuing his thoughts, Travis made clear that the concepts story surely influences Coheed & Cambrias music, but it doesn't dictate the direction and sound of the album or songs in general: 'We are putting together the record that we would want it to be concept or no concept.' Or in other words: When it comes down to it, it all depends on the cladding (the cladding is the music of course, for the avoidance of doubt).
Year Of The Black Rainbow
gets in line as the first part of the four-pieced saga and describes the origins of both characters the band is named after, revealing a lot of background information and answering pending questions. Serving as the historical starting point of a concept a complete band is based on, Coheed & Cambria visibly haven't intended it to be an extraordinary output sound wise, one that's back to basics, a homage to their roots after the inconsistent ending of the Amory Wars that was No World For Tomorrow
. It's considerably more another spin to the sound of a band established during four takes on combining progressive rock music with punk and pop sensibilities. A spin that sets Coheed & Cambria’s wheels on 'full speed' again; frictionless, right away from the start.
A calm fade-in, dark, bleak, drawn with piano twinkle. Feedback here and there, crawling until distorted guitars hit the surface with opposing but somehow intertwining riffs that carry the song under rhythmical and oral support to the emotionally peaking chorus. Now a soaring guitar lead, crashing cymbals and wholeheartedly singing that relies on a simple and highly melodic sequence, exhausted by its drenched emotions...
The lead single “The Broken” with its little own prequel “One” marks the best and most assimilating opening since IKOSE:3, combining the bands ambitions of a mood-drenched musical backbone and hook-laden song structures. While the record altogether became mostly a darker, menacing affair, Year Of The Black Rainbow
is far away from a coherent atmospherically themed album. Brooding synths and psychotic breaks oppose fleet-footed chord progressions and catchy refrains whereas Claudios seraphic singing gets threatened by schizophrenic screams (yeah, well, sometimes) and attacking guitar riffs. Having a lot more to offer than the dynamic antagonism that passes through the record as a whole, Coheed overcome experiments with electronic drums and glitches on the gloomy "Far", a little own drum festival with the heavily propelling "Guns Of Summer", and a completely differing vocal intonation that excels the spacey ballad "Pearl Of The Stars". What definitely enriches the sonic range that can be found on the album is on the other hand a brick which needs to be integrated contextually. While the electronical gimmicks find their way very smoothly into the trademarked Coheed & Cambria sound, "Pearl of The Stars" is a song that probably would better fit on the next The Prize Fighter Inferno record (it was even written for it) with its dominating acoustic guitar strummed by a partly droning Claudio Sanchez. Although the song will find its way in your ears very quick (like almost every other song on here), it feels oddly out of place in between the mid-paced pop-rock opera "Made Out Of Nothing (All That I Am)" and the records most quintessential track sound wise, "In The Flame Of Error".
With a handful of other minor discrepancies like the flow-killing staccato lead guitar on the otherwise irresistible catchy chorus of "World Of Lines", Coheed & Cambria managed to release a strong fifth record whose new elements and the steadily improving plus evolving singing of Claudio Sanchez promise a still progressing band with no signs of rust. They aren't pushing boundaries because they don't have to, feeling very comfortable in the little niche they built themselves over the years now. And when they keep drawing on seemingly unlimited resources, the future looks bright for a band that still has to disappoint.