Coheed and Cambria

Coheed and Cambria

Coheed and Cambria

Year of the Black Rainbow

Columbia Records

I gotta be honest. I’m really skeptical of concept albums, especially emo concept albums. With the exception of Green Day’s American Idiot, they all seem like the main songwriter went on an ego trip and made a self-fulfilling pile of dinosaur crap and self-proclaimed it the greatest thing since fire. So when I received Coheed and Cambria’s fifth album, Year of the Black Rainbow, I was quite apprehensive. Not only is it an emo album, but I had heard a couple of other tracks from the band prior to this release and I was not impressed. Lead singer Claudio Sanchez’s voice grated on me much like AFI’s Davey Havok’s originally did. Now, however, AFI is one of my favorite groups after getting used to Havok’s voice, so I thought I would give Sanchez and his band the same opportunity. Then there was an even bigger mountain to climb.

This album is more than a concept album. It’s a prequel to a story line called The Armory Wars, a sci-fi graphic novel series written by Sanchez about the marriage of Coheed and Cambria, whose children could possibly be infected with a serum that can destroy the universe. Their previous four albums (Parts 2-4, of which part four is two albums in itself) were a part of this massive story arc. Concept album? How about a concept group? Despite all of this, I forged ahead.

I’m glad I did.

Starting with “The Broken,” Sanchez’s voice makes the story come to life without oozing pretension, proclaiming “Obscurity has no hero” and “Pray for the broken, no one can fix us,” while the band lays a heavy riff-laden backdrop that makes this (and the entire album) explode off the CD.

“Guns of Summer” is Coheed and Cambria at their speed metal best with fire-starting guitar picking.

One of the two best tracks on the album is the rock radio ready “Here We Are Juggernaut.” Sanchez lays his bleeding heart on the table with lines like “Body’s breaking/ Drive me crazy/ This is not your place/ No, this is not your playground/ It’s my heart” and “We’ll bury our burdens in blood.” The other is the faster-paced punk-rocker “World of Lines” where Sanchez leads what is inevitably going to be a crowd-chanting chorus “Leave us alone/ If it’s not worth the letting go/ It’s trouble.”

Coheed and Cambria nimbly shift between punk, prog, and metal throughout Year of the Black Rainbow. But that is not the main reason why I love this album. Claudio Sanchez and his band have proven to me that I was wrong about concept albums, especially this story arc that has spanned five albums so far. The music instantly hooked me and then the lyrics left me wondering what’s next for the characters Coheed and Cambria. With this being the prequel, I guess I have four albums to find out. Whether you are a fan of the band or just curious, take the journey with these two characters. I guarantee that, with this album at least, you will not be disappointed.

Coheed and Cambria: www.coheedandcambria.com

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