Coheed and Cambria’s "Amory Wars” saga has become the undisputed colossus of concept projects, with a science-fiction story line sprawling over five albums, spawning a series of comic books, graphic novels and even a prose novel.
The telling of this tale has been the progressive-metal band’s single mission since the creation of its debut, "The Second Stage Turbine Blade,” in 2002. The New York foursome even named itself after the tale’s two central characters. Now, after eight years of exploring the universe created by lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Claudio Sanchez, comes Coheed and Cambria’s fifth studio album, "The Year of the Black Rainbow,” the prequel to this sci-fi epic, which is also said to be its final installment. Or is it? "Lyrically, that was always the plan for Claudio,” guitarist Travis Stever said Monday from a tour van traveling from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Houston. "But I’ve been around for all of this throughout the years, and I know how real life has dictated what the concept has gone through, and I’ve been through a lot of things with Claudio.” Indeed, Coheed and Cambria’s existence has been a struggle almost as epic as the Amory Wars, with internal upheavals and legal obstacles that served to define and shape the band and the passion of its music. C&C managed to rack up gold-certified albums with "In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3” (2003) and "Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness” (2005). The singles "A Favor House Atlantic” and "Blood Red Summer” fared well at radio, digitally and on MTV, and tours followed with Thrice, AFI and Thursday. But despite these successes, infighting caused bassist Michael Todd and drummer Josh Eppard to take their leave following the third album’s release. With the band in limbo, Sanchez turned to an electronic solo side project, the Prize Fighter Inferno, releasing "My Brother’s Blood Machine” (2006) with a narrative spinoff from Amory. Then, with Todd’s return and the recruitment of ex-Dillinger Escape Plan drummer Chris Pennie, Sanchez and Stever decided to soldier on.