Year of No Light
This is the sound of transcendence through falling from grace. I'm actually surprised that the rich (yet harsh) soundscapes that Year of No Light mines haven't been seized upon much earlier by inventive types seeking to yoke extremes of beauty and violence together, by force if needed. French combo Year of No Light are already there, and this blinding black light is so beautiful. Nord is a wondrously potent hybrid of the vibrant textures of shoegazing and the dense bleakness of black metal -- Year of No Light has seized upon heaviness the way Jesu have, seeking strength through vulnerability. Nord is as much the clouds-parting explosions of Ride and early Verve and Sonic Youth, the underwater ecstatices of My Bloody Velentine as it is the vile embolisms of Bergraven, Electric Wizard and Khanate.
"Selenite" opens on an elegiac, funeral note before opening up into interlocking webs of clear-glass-filament lead guitar. Gorgeous, a slow burnout. "L'Angoisse" is where you come face to face with the true brutal genius of Nord -- complex tribal percussion underpins legions of roaring guitars, counterpointed by clear, ringing lead mantras fighting to the death against grindcore style vocals. (Shit like this makes Dillinger Escape Plan and the like seem like cave dwellers. Fuck.) "Traversee's" waves of tarpit-thick grunge riffs are lightly skipped over by layers of serrated, smoldering lead guitar -- wave after wave of pure sound builds higher and higher, above the blackened menace of the vocals; a face turned upwards, eyes filled with tears, before a drifting, Godflesh-esque fade. God! "Librium" is a ghostly, feedback tone poem. The beauty of the bruised bridge to "Les Mains De" might be one of the saddest fucking things I've heard all year (the lyricism of soundwaves) and the way it heralds a blast of holy sonic majesty, gorgeous sonic architecture. "Tu As Fait" is altogether harsher, a punishing distorted loop built around a simple central guitar figure that is then exponentially multiplied. The more restrained calm of "Somnambule" calls to mind more minimalist and personal music such as Low and Lycia and Charalmbides. "Prosodia" samples one of the opening riffs off of Ride's Nowhere album. "Par Йconomie" is a brute hybrid of Melvins-style menace with the melodic paranoia of Ok Computer-era Radiohead; it's taut to the point of breaking. "La Bouche De Vitus Bering" is ornate, liquid doom along the lines of Grief or Toadliquor.
Tension and RELEASE. Think Godflesh, Jesu, Helmet, Radiohead's rock-out moments looped eternally, or a My Bloody Valentine cover band composed of angels (and Quorthon on a day pass).