After outstanding records of bands like CORTEZ, SPINNING HEADS, METRONOME, CHARISMA, HELLMOTEL or GANTZ, the French Independent label Radar Swarm Records delivers another great album and releases the debut of YEAR OF NO LIGHT, which is a masterpiece of an album. Their style can be compared with the music of ISIS, NEUROSIS, CULT OF LUNA, MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT, older MASTODON, KNUT, PELICAN, AMERICAN HERITAGE or aforementioned CORTEZ.
YEAR OF NO LIGHT are easily able to reproduce the power of all those bands. Merely the mighty instrumental “Sélénite” shows their great class and it’s the perfect opener for “Nord” until “L’angoisse Du Veilleur De Nuit D’autoroute Les Soirs D’alarme À Accident” follows as first song with vocal support. The French sung vocal style, mostly shrieks and screams, is not only quite brutal but also a great contrast to the more melodic and hypnotic music. The nine minutes long “Traversée” witnesses that YEAR OF NO LIGHT are also able to write long songs without getting monotonous and that they probably could create half an hour long tracks without losing their inventiveness. This is really a work of art. “Librium” is then a short interlude, it’s very gloomy and moody and something like the silence before the storm.
This storm is unleashed with “Les Mains De L’empereur“, which goes also beyond the nine minutes mark, and it has a threateningly doomy beginning as well as a skilled acoustic guitar filled midpart. YEAR OF NO LIGHT have a lot of contrasts; on one hand, their music is wonderful and fragile and on the other hand, it’s brutal and noisy. Their apocalyptic nature is continued with the overwhelming “Tu As Fait De Moi Un Homme Meilleur”, a song that could be described as ear-candy though it’s of course no easy-listening stuff. But the melodies are catchy and classy and it’s a pleasure to listen to them. “Somnambule” is then another lengthy track and delights with more powerful melodies and heavy Doom grooves, which should be a feast for every Metalhead. This song also witnesses that it can also create a deep impact without any vocals.
Another break is given by the two and a half minutes short “Prosodia” until “Par Économie Pendant La Crise On Éteint La Lumiére Au Bout Du Runnel“ and “La Bouche De Vitus Bering continue with the more brutal side of “Nord”. This is music that has to be listened to because YEAR OF NO LIGHT deliver a highlight of the year 2006. But “Nord” deserves also a praise for the packaging and the production. Especially the sound production is noteworthy, they worked together with Serge Morattel in Geneva and the mastering was done by Alan Douches (MASTODON, CLUTCH, MONSTER MAGNET, UNEARTH, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, CONVERGE…) in New York’s West Side Studio. To sum it up, this is a masterpiece, you can’t let go after some spins. This is brilliant, no doubt about that!!!
(Online February 4, 2007)