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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Coheed and Cambria

Year Of The Black Rainbow

Review by Greg Olma

Since I am new to this band, I’m not as involved into the story of their previous four CDs.  From my research, this is actually a prequel to the concept rolled out on the previous records.  For those of you out there, I’m sure you know all of this already but for us newbies, you can enjoy Year Of The Black Rainbow strictly from a musical sense.  I’m sure there are things that I will “get” once I immerse myself into the concept but for now, the songs are strong enough to keep me entertained.  In fact, if you are a prog metal fan, then this CD and this band is for you.  If you like Dream Theater or Porcupine Tree, then in my opinion, Coheed And Cambria fit right in.  My favorite by these guys is Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness (how much more can you get with a title like that) and although Year Of The Black Rainbow hasn’t toppled it off the top spot, it certainly is giving it a run for its money.  This is the kind of record that grows on you and you find yourself reaching for it more often than initial reaction might have you believe.  If you are new to the band, this is certainly a great place to start.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
One

This intro has some weird, spacey sound effects with a little piano thrown in to give it a creepy horror movie sound.

The Broken

That classic Coheed and Cambria sound kicks in on this opening track.  It’s quite heavy in the performance and Claudio Sanchez puts in a great vocal performance. 

Guns Of Summer
Some weird sound effects start this fast rocker.  At first, I didn’t like this cut but it has since grown on me.  It reminds me a little of “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood And Burial)” off of Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV….  There is also a weird guitar solo that reminds me a little of Rush’s Alex Lifeson.
Here We Are Juggernaut

Things slow down a little on this prog-tinged rocker.  This is one of the stronger songs on this disc.  I wish I knew more of the story because I’m sure there are some cool references I am missing.

Far

This tune is a haunting mellow onr that has a great beat that follows the song through to the end.  Sanchez puts in another great vocal performance.  I would make this the first single off the record, that is, if they still made singles.

This Shattered Symphony

Now we get back to their core prog metal.  The cut starts off like it is being played through a radio.  It’s lower in volume, and then it kicks in.  This has their signature sound that they have made their own.

World Of Lines

Things continue down the same path as the previous track mixed with the urgency of “Guns Of Summer”.  Aside from the intro “One”, this is the shortest track here and it fits perfectly within the context of the album.

Made Out Of Nothing (All That I Am)

What I like about Coheed and Cambria is that they change things up so each record has many sounds and flavors.  This cut plods a bit during the verses but changes gears during the chorus with a rather uplifting sound.  This is another great cut on a disc full of solid tracks.

Pearl Of The Stars

This starts off with acoustic guitars and then builds like a Pink Floyd tune.  It’s a ballad type of piece but it’s a nice respite from the metallic prog all over this disc.

In The Flame Of Terror
Sound effects start this tune that turns into quite a manic piece of prog metal.  This is my least favorite on the record.  If this was the first song I heard by them, then I would think it’s great but they have produced much better, even on this album.
When Skeletons Live

Now this is more like it.  The chorus is not as catchy as on previous tunes but it just has that “sound” that I love by this band.  It has a lot of sounds and textures that make it one of those tunes that you keep coming back to. 

The Black Rainbow
For the last track, we get the epic tune that starts off mellow but builds and builds until it ends abruptly.  The last minute or so is that spacey sound effect that was introduced in “One”.  It kind of bookends the record nicely and gives you a sense that the story has come full circle.
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