Correction to This Article
Previous versions of this review in print and on the Web incorrectly said that drummer Chris Pennie is a former member of the band Dismemberment Plan. He played with the Dillinger Escape Plan. This version has been corrected.

Coheed & Cambria Show Some Muscle

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Everything was in order as Coheed and Cambria stalked onstage at the sold-out 9:30 club Sunday: ominous background music, amplifier stacks hidden by faux-skyscraper backdrops, blinking strobes, a mob of teenagers chanting "Coheed." Then, just as the band launched into the title track from "No World for Tomorrow," its latest sci-fi, prog-rock epic, two blonde backup singers slipped onto the side of the stage.

Pretty, cooing vocalists may have repulsed the black-clad mosh-pitters down front, but wild-haired C&C leader Claudio Sanchez freely embraces such dichotomy. And that's a good thing: By the end of the nearly two-hour set, the Nyack, N.Y., quartet sounded like one of America's best mainstream hard-rock acts.

Often compared to Rush -- thanks to Sanchez's helium vocals and sprawling, multi-part song suites -- on Sunday Coheed and Cambria sounded assured and driving; Sanchez sang with newfound muscle, more Ian Gillan than Geddy Lee. Travis Stever's guitar leads were uniformly stinging, and new drummer Chris Pennie (ex-Dillinger Escape Plan) fits the band perfectly.

While C&C did sound overly ponderous on occasion ("Junesong Provision," a sludgy "Mother Superior"), the show's highlights were plentiful and undeniable: "Feathers," "The Running Free," "The Crowing" and "A Favor House Atlantic" all rattled the solar plexus with meaty hooks and unflinching hard rock. In an era of reunions, retreads and endless niches, that mob of confused, lonely black-clad teenagers should feel lucky to have Claudio Sanchez to latch on to.

-- Patrick Foster

© 2007 The Washington Post Company