Monday, October 04, 2010

Year of No Light: Ausserwelt (2010)


I was looking for some new doom metal, because the only new doom album I've reviewed so far this year was Cathedral's Guessing Game. So, when I found out about Year of No Light's Ausserwelt, I jumped on it.

Year of No Light is a French band. I've been consistently impressed by the French metal scene since 2008, with some amazing things coming from the country (Gojira and Eryn Non Dae come first to my mind), with only Alcest being a minor disappointment.

Their style is described on Encyclopedia Metallum as sludge/drone doom. I would have called it post-doom, but either formula adds up to the same thing: heavy, sludgy, slow, organically-developing songs. Four of them to be precise, with a total runtime over 47 minutes.

The album is entirely instrumental, as many post-metal and drone doom bands tend toward vocal minimalism. But despite that self-imposed handicap, the music is emotionally involving and extremely well-written. The emotions touched on are what you might expect from a band called Year of No Light, so it's dark, but that heavy sludge makes it feel good to listen to nonetheless. The first half of the album is just what you'd expect from the sludge/drone/post-doom formula, and it's done well. But the second half gets even better. "Hiérophante" has a section where all the instruments go faster just to mix things up, and album closer "Abbesse" has a section where only the drums go faster while the rest is moving slow--which is something I said I wanted to hear in doom metal back in June. The results are as good as I expected.

The Verdict: This is highly capable sludge/drone/post-doom. I can't name any other bands that occupy that niche, but I can't imagine any of them do it any better than Year of No Light. It's emotional and engaging, even without vocals, and hangs together perfectly as an album, with a fair measure of experimentation. I give Ausserwelt 4.5 out of 5 stars. Now if they could just experiment a little bit more, and throw in some good vocals now and then, they could record a perfect album.

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