Friday, August 16, 2013

Thy Light - No Morrow Shall Dawn (2013)

With so many different subgenres and styles in the metal catalog, it stands to reason that few people would turn to black metal for a dose of beauty. Yet, in recent weeks, we've found that not only is black metal a viable option for all things glowing and emotional, but it's contrast between joy and sadness can often magnify their effects on us. For reasons that have been studied to varying degrees of success (the wonderful documentary "Until The Light Takes Us" being one of the best to date), black metal produces and caters to a certain kind of person. But with bands like Thy Light, the broader appeal is becoming far more easy to understand. This Brazilian two piece, for all their depressive tendencies and imagery, have incorporated so much more into their sound. Having now embraced so many of the tenets of classical music, including dazzling piano keys and strings, they've managed to turn their own sadness into light for others. From whatever perspective you view "No Morrow Shall Dawn," it strikes a much needed chord.

Despite the overwhelming sadness that comes with the depressive black metal tag, "Suici.De.spair" dos have moving elements encapsulated within it. The light synthesizer sound that fills the background is just enough to paint a gray portrait, while the piano work in the fore dances. The refined nature of the track itself lends itself well to the release, as a whole, setting a tone and a benchmark in the early stages. The beauty can, and often does, come in the breakdown. With the tone now set, "Wanderer of Solitude" bridges the gap between light and dark, thanks to an awe inspiring piece of musicianship. Clean acoustic guitars are played with such ease, yet float above the entire mix. But it is where the track goes from here that haunts you for days after. Sure, the screeching, jagged vocals are seemingly omnipresent. But they are held up by a bevy of instrumentation, a mix that is as deep as any you've heard this year. The seamless way each instrument enters and exits is no accident, each transition from light to dark, dark to light, calculated and executed to miraculous standards. It seems as though you've reached the peak so early on, but the waves keep building around you.

The title track, much like the name indicates, is an emotional work of art. By embracing the melodic, Thy Light have made the raw elements all the more impactful. This thirteen minute epic, with all of the ebb and flow, twists and turns, embodies everything the band has poured into their work. At times atmospheric, while at other times brutally raw and honest, in encompasses every part of the spectrum, without ever giving any indication that even a second was tacked on or half baked. That methodical approach does wonders for the flow of the album. Throw in a pseudo-clean vocal in the final burst, courtesy of Tim Yatras, and you have a track that is worth every second invested in its gloomy haze. While short, the water droplets falling amongst the sound of winds and an acoustic guitar make "Corredor Seco" more memorable than the less than four minute run time would indicate. Not only does it elicit an emotional response, but it begets the thunder and pouring rains of "The Bridge." As a closer, it leaves nothing to be desired; the closure achieved here is breathtaking. While it is the track where the restraints are most clearly lifted, it is far from raw. The central melody, which dwells well below the surface distortion and screams, may induce a sway. And the final boom of thunder, loud and rumbling, is the perfect exclamation point.

For as many jokes as are made about emo scene kids, fans of The Smiths, and goth aficionados, there are just as many made about the stereotypical black metal fan. With the entire genre pigeonholed and misunderstood, it's no wonder why bands like Thy Light have gone unnoticed by the metal majority. But with this album, this five track outburst of emotional overflow and forward thinking, they've not only broken the mold from whence so many of their peers have come, but given us reason to forget there ever was a mold to begin with. Woven into the fabric of this album is a true understanding of both musical theory and execution, something these two minds have done to nearly flawless perfection. Sweeping melodies give way to dreary verses, and those verses give way to airy interludes. It's all a cycle of emotions; one that might not bring tears to your eyes or push you to sit in a dark room and weep silently. But the finished product is as well rounded as anything this genre has produced in decades. And though "No Morrow Shall Dawn" might not obliterate the stereotypes that have been built for years, it will certainly change the perspective around it.


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