The December edition of The Netherlands’ long-running avant-garde festival supreme, Incubate is fast approaching in a few weeks. Taking place December 10th and 11th; final performers, a creator-based comic book fair, and a Pole-Dancing Contest with Drone Plane experts have all been added to complete the lineup. Continue reading →
Featuring three guitarists and two drummers, there’s a whiff of Cult of Luna hovering around Bordeaux natives Year of No Light, and it’s not just down to their multitude of members. The band play post metal with elements of drone and the occasional heavy trek into doom/sludge realms, and also operate as a kind of collective entity, with collaborations and compositional work the order of the day. In case you hadn’t already guessed, the music on Tocsin is very heavy, very depressive and very slow. It’s also very damn good.
Opening track ‘Tocsin’ clocks in at nearly fourteen minutes and doesn’t really do much until about halfway through when a menacing post metal riff makes its presence felt through the ambient noise like a mastodon emerging from fog. This, accompanied by some squalling guitar noises and simple, yet devastating percussion sets the scene for a near hour long crawl between the two pillars of doom and dissonance, a place where there is little, if any light. By contrast, ‘Géhenne’ is a mere six minutes and employs some much quicker tempos. Imagine Baroness covering a My Bloody Valentine track via an endless field of amplifiers and the crushing wall of noise that is the Year of No Light modus operandi begins to make sense. At this point it may be advisable to check that your ears aren’t bleeding.
‘Désolation’ is a much more sombre affair, the morose keys more than embodying the track’s title as we take a turn into more depressive territory. Or should that be swan dive? Either way, the feeling of utter emptiness is an oppressive one, in no way helped by the deep bass notes and mounting wall of distortion that threatens to consume all and sundry within its devastating path. You almost wish some vocals would come along to indicate a human presence, but tough luck; there aren’t any, just the drone and the void.
The haunting synths that open ‘Stella Rectrix’ are little more than a false dawn, scattered rays on the aftermath of a battlefield, perhaps with funeral doom monarchs Skepticism as the overseers. The funereal pace of the crushing guitars, marching ever onwards is utterly devastating, while the use of repetition never becomes dull, as the music subtly evolves and changes texture. This is akin to having your soul crushed in slow motion, and the thing is, you want it to happen. That’s only how the hazy drone and blackened, pummeling riffs of closing epic ‘Alamüt’ are capable of being withstood without collapsing, weeping to the floor under the sheer weight of the whole thing.
Not for those with short attention spans or those who like music with a sunny cheerful disposition, Year of No Light create challenging, intense music, and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call it art. It’s art of an outsider nature however, and for those who have been looking for an act to bridge the gap between Cult of Luna and Sunn 0))), this is an undiscovered Rembrandt. And vocals? Who needs them anyway?