Drummer Chris Pennie has announced his departure from COHEED AND CAMBRIA. The decision was mutual by both parties due to creative differences.

Pennie plans to focus his time on the various musical projects in the works — acclaimed metal band RETURN TO EARTH (Metal Blade Records), which is currently writing its third album; his music production company Fight Mannequins, which just completed its first documentary score; and producing two exciting artists whose records will be released in 2012.

“I am very thankful for the years that I shared the stage with the guys and want to thank the amazing, supportive fans that I’ve met while on tour, but there are a lot of exciting projects on the horizon, in addition to RETURN TO EARTH and Fight Mannequins, that I feel require my absolute 100 percent commitment and attention,” Chris said in a statement. “I feel that this is the right time to make that happen.”

Pennie officially joined COHEED in 2007, replacing drummer Josh Eppard and touring extensively with the band internationally. He is featured on COHEED‘s most recent studio album, “Year Of The Black Rainbow”.