Reviewed By: Nick
Artist: Coheed and Cambria
Album: Year of the Black Rainbow
Genre: Progressive Metal
Year of Release: 2010
On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Year-Black-Rainbow-Coheed-Cambria/dp/B0036WHM14/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1272257208&sr=8-1
Being a newer Coheed fan, the release of Year of the Black Rainbow and the accompanying book by the same was an exciting event. If I was to have even the slightest clue what was going on in the crazy universe known as Heaven’s Fence than a prequel to the story so far was essential.
The album starts typically enough with the first real track, “The Broken”, which maintains a lot of the sounds Coheed has established over the previous two records, but at the same time you get the feeling the album is moving into new territory, a feeling which will be validated as the album continues on. “The Broken” has some very memorable guitar leads and a catchy chorus that one would expect, but the next track, “Guns of Summer” really sees the band throw out their own rulebook to travel new ground. That trend is somewhat continued in “Here We Are Juggernaut”, in which guitarist, vocalist, and lead songwriter Claudio Sanchez explains that the band for the first time ever wrote a song based around a small electronic sample. This bit of experimentation proves to be successful as the track ends up being one of the best and most accessible on the album despite not being completely straightforward.
The track “Far” displays what is perhaps the best part of the album, its softer side. The band really did well kicking back with some new techniques to deliver some very soothing moments on the album. And however much I like “Far” the best example of this probably comes a little later on the album with what I’d consider the highlight of the album, “Pearl of the Stars”. The track is as far as I’m concerned the best softer song the band has ever done, and I think between its simplicity and easier to handle than normal vocals it will be a song that can convert a lot of new people into fans. The song not only features emotional and moving vocals, but probably the most emotional guitar solo on the entire disc which reminds me of something I might hear on a Pink Floyd album.
Although I’ve been mostly positive at this point the album does have some drawbacks. For starters some of the new things the band tried didn’t come across perfectly. I’d say failed experiments are certainly in the minority, but definitely there. My other, much larger complaint is with the production of the album. Along with sounding way too stuck up and equally British on the documentary that accompanies the deluxe edition of the album producers Atticus Ross and Joe Barresi managed to flaw what was perhaps Coheed’s best mixed album to date by making the entire record sound somewhat flat and muddy. The sound does somewhat lend itself well to a track or two, but over the entire record it certainly does not work.
I think this record has great potential to bring in new fans, while as long as they don’t resist change older fans should come along for the ride. There are certainly still elements of the last few albums older fans can look to, especially in tracks like “World of Lines” which has potentially the best chorus on the disc, and it sounds like it could have come straight from one of the Good Apollo albums. This album opened up a new toolbox to the band (literally if you watch the documentary), and they did very well with their new ideas for the most part, producing a very solid album musically.
Nick’s Rating: 9/10