Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Year Of No Light - Ausserwelt (2010)

Bordeaux, France isn't exactly a "must see" on a tour of European metal destinations. But Year Of No Light are poised to change that. Gone are the days of wine and cheese. This is the beginning of the French progressive sludge movement. No need for vocals of any kind. They would only slow things down. Six single pieces, crashing together in one work of electrical madness.

From the beauty of silence, "Persephone I" arises. Distortion echos through the air, volume increasing. Heavy, pounding drums enter. Layers of strings and crunching bass meld together to form one intense entity, with a finely tuned melody soaring over it all. The track walks the fine line between noise and art, with each instrument adding to the chaos of each passing moment. This is not a kick, kick, snare type of drum track. This is a song that utilizes every piece of the drum kit, forming the backbone. Tempos shift and change at will, as do the results. You get everything from the coarse to the transcendant. And the track decomposes, breaking down and returning to the silence from whence it came.

An almost tribal drum lays the brick and mortar for "Persephone II," carving out holes for warped guitar sounds to chime in. The music is brought in, one chunk at a time. There are so many small moving parts, but it all seems so simple. The lead seems to mimic a voice, but in such a profound way. Things come to a head, and you get to taste the heavier side of things. Guitars chug away, cymbals crashing throughout. The textures created are incredible, taking you on a sonic journey.

The darker side of things comes in the form of "Hierophant," a thirteen minute epic introduction into what many would call "sludge." Guitars crush down on chord after chord, drums providing a throbbing backdrop. Again, the lad takes the place of a vocal track, at times whining over top of everything. A drumming gallop ensues, increasing the tempo, if only briefly. Things descend into a dark place, getting progressively heavier with each passing strum, each meeting of stick to snare. Then they fall apart. You may be fooled into thinking the track is nearly an end, but you would be mistaken. The show starts anew, reintroducing each piece of the puzzle for another round of punishing assault. Beauty takes hold, and polishes this to an end.

My Dying Bride could not have written a better doom styled opening than you hear on "Abbesse," with slow, methodical beats and distorted guitars taking you on a stroll. One set of drums keeps the pace, while the other sprints ahead, attacking the cymbals in rapid succession. Everything comes back together, rebuilding the wall of sound. The is an air of evil surrounding you, from the increasingly heavy drums to the raw, low end. To say you will be haunted by nightmares of reverb and feedback would not do justice to this track. But fear not, for they return to sweet, peaceful silence.

Year Of No Light has seen their fair share of genre labeling, leading band drummer Mathieu to comment in an interview “Frankly, when I look to descriptions given to Ausserwelt I just can laugh. It is like if we were a ‘Dream-Sludge-Ambient-Doom-Black-Post-Rock-Metal’ band." And while the band posseses qualities of each and every sub genre mentioned, they have laid out the blueprints for something greater. "Ausserwelt" is enough to put the wine capital of the world on the metal map.


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