Coheed And Cambria – Year Of The Black Rainbow


By Bill Adams

Alright, however it came to pass that light-weight metal somehow got called hardcore may be a mystery for the ages. Hardcore has been many things but, outside of Black Flag’s misguided dalliances in the twilight of their career, the music could never be confused with metal. Perhaps perhaps the confusion that build up a couple of years ago was simply a case of semantics failing; as bands like My Chemical Romance got more confident and started to tighten up, they began to throw the word ‘hardcore’ around a lot – maybe in reference to the fact that they were getting more confidence and getting harder – and so looked upon what they were doing as ‘hardcore’ in their take-no-shit stance, if not sound. It’s a valid question that someone on a taller pulpit might ask one day, but fans of Coheed And Cambria can rest assured that Year Of The Black Rainbow will not be included in the debate and draw no fire; in the album’s dozen tracks, there is no spark of hardcore and, really, not really any gleam of metal in it recorded before 1985.

So what is this album? Well, like the music of Poison, Ratt, Motley Crüe and the Ronnie James Dio years of Black Sabbath, Year Of The Black Rainbow could best be characterized as “mildly dischordant pop” or, even more simply, “trite from the title on down.” [Uh, Bill, did you really call Heaven And Hell trite? We need to talk – Da Ed]

Will fans curse the author of such a declaration? Probably, but look at it this way: ignoring the laughable title of the album, from note one of the album’s lead-off track, “One,” there’s nothing particularly original or attention grabbing about any aspect of the record. Singer Claudio Sanchez simpers sweetly and operatically about static and ambiguous subjects (check lines like “When skeletons like inside your closets/ thick and thin, You’ll fear that no one will hear us sig our songs” from “When Skeletons Live,” or “Would I truly care if we truly mean nothing?” from “Guns Of Summer”), surrounded on all sides by C.C. Deville knock-off guitars supplied by Travis Stever. There are hooks to be caught upon in Stever’s licks but, because they’re all made of designer impostor plastic, they break easily and never successfully hold listeners. To be fair, “Here We Are Juggernaut” will at least draw a cheer or two as the band builds up to a decent froth, but it still feels a little fey, even while the band tries tough-talking.

As listeners get more deeply immersed in the record, they get no better engaged, unfortunately (explaining the dryness and lack of depth that “Pearl Of The Stars” boasts is unnecessary – just look at the title alone) and, while it’s not an aggravatingly poor listen, it does certainly leave listeners wanting. Why? Frankly, no one’s hands got dirty in the run-time of Year Of The Black Rainbow, so it didn’t leave any sort of mark or impression. The pop sheen of each song overrides the possibility that any listener might feel anything, so what’s the point?

(Columbia/Sony Music)

Rating: 6.0

Sean is the founder/publisher of; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.