Year of No Light | ‘Ausserwelt’
It seems somewhat ironic that within a month of Year of No Light releasing ‘Ausserwelt’, their much-awaited sophomore album, ISIS chose to announce that they had “done all they’d set out to do”, and broke up.
Amidst the flurry of bands and releases that owe that Californian group kudos, one could at least point to this single inspired spark that’s only just beginning to burn brightest. Legions of fans worldwide blink at the gap now left and look around. They would do well to look to this young French group.
It’s easy to hear plenty of inspiration from the now departed Americans in the Bordeaux band, but also so much more fire and hunger than what ISIS finished with. Their 2006 debut, ‘Nord’ pulsed with a light and earnest energy all of it’s own.
Who could fault the vigour and sense of urgency that songs like ‘Traversée’ summoned up? It was an album that sounded young, literally bursting at the seams with a desire to prove its contents. Perhaps the only recent band of that ilk who reached the same intensity was the now sadly-split Fall of Efrafa.
With a break of some years under their belt, ‘Ausserwelt’ clearly moves the group into broader and more spacial territory. The opening movement that is ‘Perséphone I & II’ is a marathon of audio immersion. The sense of wide open space and dazzling light is amplified by the guitars shimmering in and out, with an epic amount of sustain being employed. It’s clear the group have progressed well beyond adding riffs to riffs, as a clear and powerful soundscape forms.
The break comes around 15 minutes in. All the darkness of the first record comes flooding back and we’re treated to a mountainous riff that would sit very easily amongst the bloody glory of ‘Through Silver in Blood’. The production lacks absolutely nothing, and on first hand experience, I can report it nothing short of kills through a decent pair of speakers.
What’s different is that they seem so intent on the music now that vocals are a complete afterthought. But that’s the case for the listener too. There’s really no need for them, such is the panorama presented.
It’s the cut and thrust of ‘Abbesse’ that underlines how this is a more mature group, one that’s in full creative bloom at the moment. Sudden bursts of blastbeats and waves of rhythmic, sustained percussion sets the scene for a dramatic closing. It’s a sound that cries out for big venues and massive light displays, along with a few thousand heads nodding in unison to a full sound that’s close to irresistible.
‘Ausserwelt’ succeeds in sounding huge. For a fifty minute instrumental affair, it packs more than enough flair and personality to both keep attention and melt heads with massive, blissed-out heaviness. For those with a taste for this, there can hardly be a finer record of this type for some time to come. Who needs light in 2010 anyway?
4.4 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 06/06/10