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Coheed and Cambria: Art of Darkness

Originally published in Guitar World, May 2010

Coheed and Cambria bring their sci-fi saga to an ambitious conclusion with Year of the Black Rainbow.

In February 2002, Coheed and Cambria released The Second Stage Turbine Blade, the first in an epic, five-album modern prog-rock series about warring planets, biological viruses and doomed romances. Almost eight years later, the band tracked the final notes of Year of the Black Rainbow, the prequel that completes the tangled saga.

“This is rewarding for me, and very exciting,” says frontman and story architect Claudio Sanchez. “Who would have thought when Second Stage was released that we’d come this far and finish it?

Year of the Black Rainbow is thematically the beginning of the Coheed story, but it’s more musically adventurous than the group’s previous records, incorporating a new range of textures and tones that accompany the angular arrangements and captivating melodies of songs like “The Broken” and “In the Flame of Error.”

Sanchez started working on the album at his home studio in Middletown, New York, in November 2008. Instead of writing on acoustic guitar as he had in the past, he programmed sequences on analog modulators, then played complementary passages on electric guitar. “I wanted to break out of the patterns I had developed over the years and find different ways to make writing fun again,” he says.

Coheed and Cambria recorded Year of the Black Rainbow over two sessions with Atticus Ross and Joe Barresi at Barresi’s House of Compression studio in Pasadena, California. The producers encouraged Coheed to make their soundscapes even more atmospheric.

“I got into fuzz and bought tons of interesting, odd pedals to create a ‘broken’ sound,” Sanchez says. “There are parts where [guitarist] Travis [Stever] and I play different solos at the same time, and it makes the music really dense and lush. It’s an awesome listen.”

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