I have a complicated relationship with Coheed and Cambria. They’re the musical equivalent of Marmite, for two very specific reasons. The first is the old “you either love it [them] or hate it [them]”, which is fair enough; I know Claudio Sanchez’s voice takes some getting used to.
The second is the potential stigma that comes with saying you like them. Much of their fanbase also listen to bands like My Chemical Romance and Hawthorne Heights. ‘Nuff said?
I don’t think the emo label is justified, in all fairness. Yes, their lyrical content is emotive, but as far as I’m concerned they have had nothing to do with the constricting trousers and copious eyeliner that are the trademarks of the emo scene.
So yeah, I like them. So shoot me. Any band that can write both In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3 and The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut (ignoring the names) deserves a chance. Their first two albums were really good, the third had its moments, and the fourth was actually pretty damn catchy when you got past the crap songs.
Add to this fairly impressive back catalogue the that the fact that Chris Pennie, former drummer of The Dillinger Escape Plan, is now a part of the band, and I was fairly confident that Year of the Black Rainbow was going to be a pretty good release.
Boy was I wrong.
More after the jump…
Let me backtrack a little. The main thrust of Coheed and Cambria is the story of the titular characters. I won’t bore you with details I’m only vaguely aware of myself, but it’s a sci-fi/fantasy epic in its grandest form: messianic protagonist, heavy destiny, evil supreme ruler. Much ado about Star Wars.
My point is that whilst Claudio (Kilgannon, the protagonist: not Sanchez, with the hair) mopes a little along the way, via Claudio’s (Sanchez, with the hair: not Kilgannon, with the dead family) lyrics, the band knows how to write a damn good song. The story is entirely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, the lyrics are generally pretty catchy, and Claudio Sanchez has a lot of hair.
“Take that, glorious legacy!”
What struck me about the first listen of Year of the Black Rainbow was how god-awfully mopey it is. A sample:
Here We Are Juggernaut
Oh, but your kiss won’t leave me be!
‘Cause your tear drops won’t stop chewing out my heart.
I welcome this pain beating down on me,
Is it your eyes that choose not to see?
In the Flame of Error
I hate everything I am becoming. This change is torture.
And I had a wealth of choice to give as examples. Pay close enough attention to any of the songs and you’ll find something facepalm-inducing. There must be a better way to convey the emotions of the story than whining, surely.
Maybe I’m wrong about the past four albums, and they were all exactly the same, but if I was, I was far too busy rocking the fuck out to notice.
Which brings me on to my second gripe. Where the riffs at? Delirium Trigger. Welcome Home. No World For Tomorrow. I went to half of the Neverender tour when it rolled through London (quickly learning that this was not the way to see Coheed), but all of these songs killed.
Some have lauded Chris Pennie’s influence on the new material, particularly on Guns of Summer. I’m sorry, but that track is weak. That phase shifting is bad, and Sanchez’s vocals suck. Throughout, thinking about it. It saddens me greatly that the wind has dropped from their sails [insert your own ‘half-mast’ joke here]; the great ship CoCa has lost its power. Abandon all ye?
Maybe not. This was all from my first listen. I’ve struggled with this review, and as such have listened to the album a lot. And I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t grown on me.
I stand by everything I’ve said so far, but The Broken and Here We Are Juggernaut are actually pretty catchy. It’s not completely terrible. In fact it’s a perfectly listenable record, and I’m pretty sure the emo crowd will lap it up with abandon – it’s just not good Coheed. For those of you who love them for everything they used to be; prepare to be disappointed. You’ll never love this album.
- The Broken
- Guns of Summer
- Here We Are Juggernaut
- This Shattered Symphony
- World of Lines
- Made Out of Nothing (All That I Am)
- Pearl of the Stars
- In the Flame of Error
- When Skeletons Live
- The Black Rainbow
Coheed and Cambria – Year of the Black Rainbow gets:
2.5/5 – Disappointing