It’s been far too long.
2013’s ‘Taedium Vitae’ was my album of that year.
As I wrote at the time: “An invigorating blast of hardcore that rejuvenates your faith in the genre as a force for good. At times it feels like a single, twenty minute track but it never lets up, nor does your attention wander.
These Floridian hardcore types are certainly in thrall to the likes of His Hero is Gone and Tragedy but they transcend these influences into something more primal, something more brutal.
The use of Latin for song titles, an album title taken from Oscar Wilde and a reinterpretation of ‘Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog’ by Caspar David Friedrich for the cover gives the album a scholastic feel which marks Centuries out as a lot more cerebral than your average crusty. Simply put: you need this LP.”
And I stand by every single word. It remains one of my favourite LP’s to have emerged in the last few years.
So there’s an awful lot riding on ‘The Lights of this Earth are Blinding.’ Can the band top ‘Taedium Vitae?’ Will they retread old ground? Will we get a facsimile of what has come before?
The cover, upon first glance, looks lazy (a skull in a sun).
However, a deeper look reveals an elaborately sketched temple with a cross bridge into something that could either be salvation or the end of the road.
I love how the use of two colours create the feel of a rusting, decaying way of life. And that it’s encapsulated in a circle can be seen as a nod to the circle of life itself.
Not particularly subtle, but it works. Same with the title, which I suspect is a homage / parody of the phrase “brighter than a thousand suns” (used to describe the atomic bomb exploding).
So, without hearing a note, we’re already getting an apocalyptic, end of days vibe from the album. Which could work.
Unfortunately, the album begins with the title track. And my integrity forces me to say that it’s utterly generic and unmemorable.
It tries to go for a more widescreen, apocalyptic feel but never gets outs of first gear and the riffs don’t have the necessary weight and aplomb to truly feel epic.
Thankfully, ‘Wooden Hands’ gets us back on track by surprising the listener with a gently picked acoustic passage before going full throttle.
Here, the band forget about the widescreen attempts and just go for the jugular in the riffing department, which is much chunkier and satisfying than what it had been on the title track.
Going straight into ‘Bygones’, the ante is maintained admirably with blast beats and a lovely moment where one chord has to hold the song together, which it does. This contrasts nicely with ‘Soil’, which has elements of black metal in its sound. Gotta love the bass thump on this track.
This streak carries on throughout the LP, until we get to the closer (‘Nul Orietur’) which is a complete let down. A seven minute song that crams an apocalyptic, end of days feel into a stoner rock riff, it goes nowhere and sounds confused.
No wonder it closes with a fade out. Even the band couldn’t figure out where to go with it!
Believe it or not, the cover and title are quite accurate. Listening throughout, and ignoring the title track, I kind of get a vision of the band playing inside a pyramid in Cairo, with the music soundtracking an earthquake.
This is down to the production, which is somewhat dry and doesn’t place the band in the centre of the mix, while the various acoustic passages sound dusty.
So they do, inadvertently, end up achieving their aim of sounding epic. Widescreen almost. But not a patch on the last LP, thanks to the best songs being bookmarked by two highly flat and disappointing numbers.
Don’t get me wrong, the great songs are enough to make you overlook the weak ones, and what this album has in its favour are great, individual songs that can be played in isolation and they will still knock you for six, whereas ‘Taedium Vitae’ was a piece that has to be listened to in one go in order to get the true feel of what it’s about.
Great to have them back, and the record will be a soundtrack for the turnover into spring, but only a fool would argue that they’ve never sounded better.
3 / 5 –Christopher Owens ::: 26/01/18