What to Do Tonight: Coheed and Cambria

Coheed and Cambria contemplate their next album, Desolate Unicorn in Unhappy Fairyland
  • Coheed and Cambria contemplate their next album, Desolate Unicorn in Unhappy Fairyland

If Coheed and Cambria weren’t such geeks, they’d be overbearingly pretentious. The New York-based indie-prog-rockers have released five albums since 2002, all of them telling the story of “The Amory Wars,” a sci-fi concept conceived by frontman Claudio Sanchez about a galaxy far, far away and the messianic dude (named Claudio) at the center of it all.

The band’s most recent album, Year of the Black Rainbow, debuted at No. 5 in April — the highest showing ever for a Coheed and Cambria record. It’s a prequel to “The Amory Wars,” and, in step with the group’s geek ambitions (The Amory Wars is also a comic-book series penned by Sanchez), it was simultaneously released as a novel co-written by Sanchez and author Peter David, whose résumé reads like a comic-shop shelf (Batman, Spider-Man, Star Trek).

"I created a concept that I can essentially hide all of my experiences behind,” says Sanchez. “I was pretty shy and still am, to some degree. It was really tough putting my heart on my sleeve. [The characters Coheed and Cambria] were originally a reflection of me and my lover at the time, but they started to take on the life of my parents and my confusion growing up.”

Year of the Black Rainbow, like Coheed and Cambria’s other four albums, can be a tricky listen. And we’re not just talking about the band’s twisty, totally prog time signatures. The story itself is often confusing. Starting with the debut, The Second Stage Turbine Blade (which is actually the second part of “The Amory Wars”), none of the records really follows a chronological timeline. In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, from 2003, is the third chapter. Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness (2005) is the first half of the fourth part; Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow (2007) is the other half. Got all that?

The new album is supposedly the final word on the subject. Or … wait a minute — it’s actually the first word, right? “There are certainly some holes that need to be filled,” says Sanchez. “I think Year of the Black Rainbow helps clear up some of the events that happened previously. I never really thought it was going to get this big. [The story] has a great ending, but it’s still open-ended. It needed some closure.”

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