31 (noisy) songs
Subtitle: the biggest, heaviest, most dense, sound there is on my computer.
Let’s first go over their biography (which is 2 clicks away if you google it. why is it important? it’s not. anyway, for your convenience, here it is:). Year Of No Light is a french metal band, formed (in another lineup) in 2001. On this album there are 6 of them. One plays the bass, two play the drums and three play the guitar. Year Of No Light is a side project for these guys and perhaps this explains the fact that they only have 2 proper LPs plus a few collaborations throughout all these years (note: I was wrong, it is not a side project; as the band pointed out, this is their main project… 25/4/’13). It doesn’t explain, howeverer, why they don’t seem to be randomly “experimenting” on the very carefully constructed Ausserwelt, as is usually the case with side projects. But more about this in a bit. Year Of No Light‘s expertise is instrumental post-metal with extra sludgey-shoegazy sounds and fuzzy playing (as opposed to, let’s say, Isis‘ more focused riffing). The dark, almost evil, ambience and sometimes the drumming go into black metal territory. The closest thing (that I am familiar with) is Rosetta (whom they have collaborated with); Rosetta plus the blackness minus the vocals. OK, let’s cut to the chase.
It is an exciting album, but, still, one that needs your full attention and patience. Having listened to the whole thing carefully a few times, what really impresses me the most is how narrational it is. I will describe later what a possible story might be (which, of course, is just self-psychoanalysis), but no matter what the specifics are, there seems to be a well-thought out, planned concept. Perhaps not a very original story. I mean, no matter what you make out of it, it’s one kinda traditional 4-part narration, but it’s methodical and grand. While on this point, I should also stress that, despite the length of the tracks, not one minute of them is just improvisation. It’s all composed and arranged before the recording.
Cult of Luna
Wolves In The Throne Room
As for the actual musical ideas, it’s important to have good ones, no? Big concept and huge sound are nothing without some catchiness. Well, not “catchy”, but is it felicitous (well-targetted? fucking english…), melodically speaking? Sure it is! Perhaps some parts could have been better, like the stock-ultraevil riff on the second track, but who am I to tell? Besides, there is nothing more subjective than judging melodies. To sum up: musical ideas=excellent and impactful to say the least.
So, here’s my version of the story:
Perséphone (Enna) is the 1st of the four tracks. It’s a heavy experience. I know that in a record you can add as many guitar layers as you want. Howeverer, would it be stupid to claim that the three-guitars thing is a distinguishable characteristic of this composition? I mean, just when I was thinking I was following all the melodies a person can follow simultaneously, suddenly a new melodic line appears. The drumming (despite the guitar chaos) is distinct and holds up to the mayhem, pounding steadily and methodically. Towards the end of the track I am already getting a bit used to the sound and I’m finding the thing relaxing.
Which is funny, because the second track, Perséphone (Core), kicks in and kicks my ass. It’s definitely a more unnerving trip. It builds from where the first Persephone left off and helps accumulate even more storm. Is the album going to keep going up in energy?
Oh, yes it is… Third track, Hiérophante, starts with a passage that I describe as “the end is near”. It sounds like the band has explained precisely how and why the world is going to end in the two Persephones and now they project (on our ears) its collapse. The rhythm becomes less steady and the melody keeps hanging just before the some imminent implosion. When suddenly, it starts… It becomes faster, it becomes more descriptional and less emotional, if you know what I mean. And then, even more drama. Fuck, this is one hell of a fucking piece of music! The promise of the most destructive, most spectacular apocalyptic soundtrack has just been delivered. What are they going to do for the last track?
OK, there’s more bad stuff coming. I believe the world as we know it is already over. This is the new age. The concepts of the “world” are obsolete. Abbesse, a decisively black metal number and it paints another reality. I can’t decide who won the war (what war? I have a fucked up subconscious, don’t I?). The riffs stand strong on their feet. But the music can’t be called “hopeful” or “enpowering”. Or can it? OK, that’s too subjective even for this one subject (=me) to decide. A bit later the piece shows it’s real face. It describes a total fucking nightmare. Screeching guitars, ominous melody, pounding drumming again. Where is some respite? All I hear in the end is just a scorched landscape.
Till the next album, I guess..