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Thursday 8 July 2021

Reviews: Year Of No Light, Catharsis, Dream Troll, The Harps (Reviews By Richard Oliver, Paul Scoble, Paul Hutchings, & Matt Bladen)

Year Of No Light - Consolamentum (Pelagic Records) [Richard Oliver]

After a gap of eight years, French post-metal six piece Year Of No Light are back with their fifth album Consolamentum. Not a band I am wholly familiar with but one I know that are highly regarded in post-metal circles. The music on Consolamentum is wholly instrumental as it has been since 2010’s Ausserwelt album and the album is made up of five lengthy and weighty compositions. For a album to comprise of five lengthy instrumentals it is essential that the music has breadth and depth and on both of these Year Of No Light certainly delivers. The five pieces of music all vary from each other in sound and tone ensuring that this is an album that ensnares and captivates its listener. 

 Album opener Objuration conjures up dread with its thick doomy riff underscored by sinister synths whilst Alétheia starts on a more somber note but builds with intensity as the song progresses culminating in pounding and pulsating heaviness. Interdix Aux Vivant, Aux Morts Et Aux Chiens starts off with another crushing doom riff full of angst and despair but the songs shifts throughout with the subtle introduction of synths and follow up Réalgar starts off in absolute bleak fashion before the song shifts into more of a shoegaze territory in its latter part. Album closer Came continues in uncompromising and bleak fashion before it explodes in a cacophony of dissonant guitars, synths and blast-beats at its relentless conclusion. 

I find myself always describing post-metal acts such as Year Of No Light as cinematic and I’d have to use this descriptive term once again as the band perform music that conjures up such vivid imagery and contain such striking emotive content. I find I usually struggle with instrumental bands but Year Of No Light have crafted a dense, uncompromising yet captivating album with Consolamentum. 8/10

Catharsis - Human Failures (Mad Lion Records) [Paul Scoble]

The story of the band Catharsis goes all the way back to the early days of Technical Death Metal 1992. The Polish band formed in 1992 and were active until 1996, in that time the band released one album in 1995’s Bitter Distain. The band then went on a 14 year hiatus until 2010, when Bass player, Vocalist and only original member Adam Mamok put the band back together with help from Guitarist and Keyboard Player Katarzyna Bujas, and Guitarist Ketetan Pawiszyn. They then released Bitter Distain’s long awaited follow up Rhyming Life And Death in 2014. Seven years later album number three is now ready, the band have had some help with this album as they are missing a Drummer at the moment so the drum seat was filled by session drummer Dariusz Brzozwski, and the album has a guest vocalist on one track due to the appearance of Immolation’s Ross Dolan. 

The album opens with the song Through The Eyes Of A Child, Catharsis’s sound is impressively technical with complex riffs, some very good florid Bass playing which in places sounds fretless and very tight intricate drumming. The song features some very fast and flowing riffs, a very rhythmic chorus and is a great way to start the album. Next up is Slaves To Money And Greed which is slower and heavier than the song that preceded it, there is a section of Blast Beats, but most of the song has a slower or mid-paced tempo, the song also features a very expansive chorus, some nice guitar harmonies that reminded me of Nile, and a very pleasing solo. Your Truth is a mix of slow and heavy, and mid-paced but very driving and purposeful riffs. The slow parts have a lot of melody and tunefulness to them, and the mid-paced riffs have an interesting rhythmic feel. 

Made Of Blood is the track that features Ross Dolan of Immolation. The song is fairly simple, it is mid-paced for most of it and has a very impressive chorus that sticks in your head. Village Of Witches is another simple and very rhythmically interesting. The tempo is slow but steadfast and single minded, it reminds me of God Of Emptiness by Morbid Angel a little. The song has a slow and very heavy chorus that has a definite nod to Black Sabbath and is absolutely full of Tri-tones. House Of Sand And Fog has a very driving and unfaltering feel to the verse section which is also staccato in places. The chorus by contrast is fast and flowing, and the juxtaposition of the two works very well.  

Final track My Last Words is a mix of slow and heavy and fast and flowing in the verse sections, the song has a very expansive chorus with clean vocals. It’s the shortest song on the album, and is a very effective way to end the album. Human Failures is a great piece of Technical Death Metal. It manages to sit halfway between really brutal exponents of the genre like Nile or Origin, and the softer side of Technical Death Metal like Obscura, it manages to find a Goldilocks position of Not Too Brutal, Not Too soft; Just Right. The riffs are complex but not so technical that you can’t hum them, and after a few listens you will be humming them as this album has lots of tunes as well as lots of technicality. Really enjoyable album, highly recommended. 8/10    

Dream Troll – Realm Of The Tormentor (Self Released) [Paul Hutchings]

I was impressed with 2019’s second release Second To None, to the extent that I gave it a 9/10 in these pages. The band have undergone a line-up shuffle with Ash Elliott replacing Paul Walsh on vocals. And according to Metal Archives, the band now slimmed down to a four-piece. Regardless, this is another fine album, sitting in a somewhat niche location. The band are heavy enough to sit within the wider genre of metal, yet they don’t comfortably settle in any one pigeonhole. Their progressive style, fluid musical movements and high paced tempo combined with Elliott’s high-class vocals leave them in an interesting position. In effect they straddle numerous genres, and this is both to their advantage and probably a challenge when placing them in a list. R

Realm Of The Tormentor is another high-quality record. It may only be 34 minutes long, but it punches hard without dominating with riff after riff. There are riffs aplenty, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a brightness and energy about this band that continue to make them one of the more exciting bands in the UK. They’ve still taken plenty of care in crafting their material, with the opening duo of Tormentor and She Got The Devil Inside both earworms that are drenched in melody but with a steely backbone that I would imagine moves the band into a louder and more aggressive element in the live arena. It’s a sonically charged approach that blends ripping solos with slower, more retrospective parts, ensuring that throughout the album your attention doesn’t wander. There’s a familiarity about Elliott’s vocals that is both warming and welcoming, and his performance is excellent.

In fact, there’s little to dislike on this release. Maybe the harmonies on the choruses are not to everyone’s liking but that’s tough. This is a band pulling in the right direction at the same time. Each song brings something different to the table, with the climax of the record the epic As Death Rains From The Sky, which is perhaps the most majestic track on the whole album. Whatever you think, the Leeds outfit has delivered another release of pure class, and one which sits nicely with their growing discography. 8/10

The Harps - Love Strikes Doves (Sleazsy Rider Records) [Matt Bladen]

A collaboration by the king of Collabs Mike Lepond (Symphony X) and Anry Lagiou who is a member of Mike's band The Silent Assassins and has previously appeared on The Voice of Greece where she was a Semi-Finalist. The Harps is a bluesy metal project that serves as Anry's main project and also sees the guitarist of Greek rock legend Vassilis Papakonstantinou, playing the guitars here. A strong line up of musicians for this record and I'm not doubting their talents as performers however Love Strikes Doves is one of the most one dimensional records I've heard all year. 

Yes it's nice and layered musically and Anry has a good singing voice but the songs are basic, often laboured rock and metal songs that never really excite. You could skip through the album at random and none of them would really live long in the mind. There's an effort to sound like their heroes but it never ascends above pub band level for me. You may find it entertaining but I'm not convinced. 3/10

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