Coheed and Cambria
Year of the Black Rainbow



by Zettel USER (47 Reviews)
April 26th, 2010 | 17 replies

Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If something is too shiny, perhaps it is trying to deviate your attention from something else.

Despite their electronic makeup Year Of The Black Rainbow is a clear-cut Coheed and Cambria album. The band has a style of their own that they have polished over the years; so that should in itself not be a major issue, were it not for the fact that Coheed let the production take a central role, almost forgetting to write good songs. They try to present essentially the same thing as something different and fresh by means of production tricks. Let us take into consideration that CaC were an entertaining progressive-pop band that consistently put out highly enjoyable albums. No matter how dense or "progressive" they could get, you always had a fun, catchy album with great songs in your hands. You realize this time the band got distracted in trying to make YOTBR a such a departure in sound instead on focusing on the songs themselves. But Claudio Sánchez shies away from truly taking a step forward; there is a constant oscillation between the old sound and the new one that results in a mild attempt at renovation.

"Guns of Summer" is the best example of the new direction the band could have fully embraced. Here new drummer Chris Pennie finds his place, providing an exciting drum-and-bass type of beat, while the song structure really feels loose and atypical, a nice blend of rock and electronics that promised interesting things to come. Nevertheless, they do not go deeper than this. Stylistically, the rest of the album is sub-par, even conventional. Cuts like "The Broken", "Here We Are, Juggernaut", "World of Lines" still appear like your typical Coheed and Cambria single, but somehow they feel undeveloped, weak, as the progressive element of their music is removed to give way to a more concise approach in which an artificial atmosphere is at the front. On songs like "Far" it works, but on most of them it feels unnecessary: it gets distracting, giving the impression that the band is not confident on their songwriting skills this time. The refined pop-rock sound the band achieved on No World Of Tomorrow, along with the warm, almost playful tone and that epic touch of previous releases are mostly gone; now you get this half-baked and dense futuristic soundscape that lefts you cold and frowning on it. The catchy choruses, the effective riffage and the cinematic feel are still there; it is just that their impact is diminished to the point of sounding like merely a CaC song template.

The terrible track sequence does not help a bit. All the stuff that is decent and/or interesting is in the first half; all things mediocre and/or boring are on the second one. After "Far" (one of the highlights) the album finds itself in free-fall and crashes long before it ends. By the time "In The Flame Of Error" comes in, the album has completely lost every momentum it could have (blame it on the inane "Pearl Of The Stars"), even becoming a boring listen. “The Black Rainbow “must be the worst closer the band has put on record: they are lost throughout its seven minutes; there is no direction and no inspiration, no buildup and no climax; it is just another plain song. It is the first Coheed and Cambria album that is unbearable and blatantly uninspired in parts and as a whole. They severely struggle to retain consistence and quality all the way through.

Now, this is supposed to be the beginning (and at the same time, the conclusion) of the "The Amory Wars" storyline Claudio wrote and already developed in previous opus. But paradoxically, at least on the surface, the music feels ahead of previous works. So by contrast Year Of The Black Rainbow comes up on top of it all as forced, insincere, something Claudio made up at the last minute: the concept is not coherent. Experimentation is a good thing; but sometimes it reveals a band’s weaknesses and limitations. The addition of former The Dilliger Escape Plan's drummer Chris Pennie has not proved yet to be a convenient one. At what extent was he involved in the band's new direction and what he could contribute in the future, I do not know; at least on this album Claudio's vision and his seem to collide.

Year Of The Black Rainbow has its moments, but it is no doubt a disappointment. Too soon it plays its strongest cards, only to reveal it does not have much more to offer. Perhaps the storyline will make up for its lack of musical substance, but as a piece of music they have done much better.


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user ratings (1393)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Iluvatar EMERITUS (4)
    Don't let the god-awful album title deter you, Year of the Black Rainbow is another solid ...

    tuk (4)
    this line is everlasting, pushing forward, never crashing...

    Foxhound (4)

    nkeithb (4.5)
    The beginning becomes an interesting and satisfying end....

  • sba4life (4)
    Coheed honor colorblind people who admire rainbows with an excellent record!...

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 26th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

Don't really agree with the rating, I enjoyed it more than any of their other albums. I guess I just like the new sound. Anyway, good review.

April 26th 2010


This is a really good review, pos'd.

April 26th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

Its a great review,and finally someone i agree with about the new coheed!!!!Come on people,the new sound is sweet,but the songwriting is nothing special compared to their other releases.

Digging: Rob Mazurek Octet - Skull Sessions

April 26th 2010


i concur

April 26th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

though the greatness factor does drop a little bit in the second half, i disagree that it brings the album down that much. i've yet to listen to the closer though, so maybe i'm wrong.

good review

April 26th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

while i would rate this higher (3.5), i totally agree with you that this an over-produced album and parts of it are pretty damn boring. with that said, i still really enjoy the majority of it and it's still coheed.

April 26th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

agree... i used to go deep into the depths with 3 and IV but this is just a bore. "omg, like the drummer from tdep is on this!!" who cares, the cat in silent earth was a thicker contributor. this is all very easily neglectful.

Digging: Comeback Kid - Outsider

April 26th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

The "a" in "Sanchez" doesn't have an accent.

Otherwise good review.

April 26th 2010


Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks for all your comments, much appreciated.

April 26th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

Well written review but this album is certainly not average, it's way above that.

April 27th 2010


I think i agree with your review the most. It sounds less fanboyish.

April 27th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

this is a great review. i saw the album the way you see it on the first few listens, but it's grown on me quite a bit and it's awesome in its own way. i liked it a lot better when i forgot how old coheed sounded.

April 27th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, but i dont really agree with much of it.

April 27th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, pos'd. I think I like this a little more than you, but I agree with most things you said.

April 27th 2010


Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, pos.

April 27th 2010


Album Rating: 2.5

I like this review

Staff Reviewer
October 3rd 2010


Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Great review. Pos. Will try this out sometime and see what my opinions are.

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