Coheed & Cambria Stretch Their Formula on Year of the Black Rainbow

Coheed & Cambria

Year of the Black Rainbow (Columbia)

So far Coheed & Cambria have stuck close to the guitars/bass/drums formula, but for Year of the Black Rainbow they've added extensive synthesizers and some pretty wacky electronic effects. Also new to the mix is ex-Dillinger Escape Plan drummer Chris Pennie. His presence is felt as much as it's heard—every kick drum and tom blast assaults the listener with brute force, making this the band's heaviest album to date.

But new members and some new moves don't mean Coheed & Cambria have forsaken their signature elements. Most songs showcase singer/guitarist Claudio Sanchez's chunky power-chord riffs and Travis Stever's single-note counter-melodies. And despite a brief foray into tenor territory on the ballad "Pearl of the Stars," Sanchez still sings in his Geddy Lee-esque falsetto. This is still noticeably a Coheed & Cambria album.

What makes Year of the Black Rainbow one of the most cohesive albums in the band's catalog, however, is its pitch-perfect combination of virtuosity and pop sensibility. The disc never stalls, it's full of crowd-pleasing choruses, and the guitar solos are mostly short and sweet. Year of the Black Rainbow maintains this momentum all the way through, even on the sprawling final track, "The Black Rainbow," which extends well over the seven-minute mark.