Year Of No Light
posted on 7/2007 By:
“Official website for the French hardcore band Year of No Light”
I might not know much about hardcore, but I’m certain that Year of No Light don’t play it. In fact, if I had to classify Nord, I’d call it atmospheric post-metal in the vein of Jesu, Neurosis, Isis, or (on the non-metal end of the spectrum) early-day Mogwai/Explosions in the Sky. Not exactly windmill-inspiring company.
Semantic criticisms aside, Year of No Light have created an intriguing album that I have actually returned to several times since my first listen. Unabashedly schizophrenic in its presentation, Nord is part shimmering instrumental post-metal, part shriek-laden sludge, and rarely anything in-between. The album could essentially be reviewed as a split, as the two songwriting approaches are rarely, if ever, featured within the same track.
Opener, “Selenite” sets the table for everything that is right about Nord. Indeed, Year of No Light are at their best when they keep the formula simple: arrange simple, yet weighty compositions around plodding rhythms. Then, gradually increase the intensity and/or layers of instrumentation for 5-10 minutes. Rinse. Repeat. Admittedly, the plan doesn’t look like much on paper, but in practice it can be quite compelling. The ethereal moments contained within “Traversee” and “Sonambule” are the absolute embodiment of post-metal. Clocking in at nearly 24 minutes collectively, one could justify picking up Nord for these three songs alone.
While Nord’s instrumental offerings are promising, the remainder of the album is far less engaging. Vocalist Julien Perez’ black-ish screams are mixed frustratingly low in the mix, but maintain enough of a presence to detract from the overall mood of the album. In a perfect world, I’d purchase an alternate mix of the album sans vocals, but Crucial Blast Records is not currently offering such an option.
Flaws aside, Nord possesses a certain charm that has brought me back to it much more frequently than I would have initially expected. To be sure, Year of No Light are operating in a well-worn, if not outright flooded, subgenre. However, given the crossover appeal currently being enjoyed by other post-metal acts, their timing couldn’t be better. This was ultimately a rewarding listen that I’d recommend to anyone still interested the style.
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