YEAR OF NO LIGHT Nord CD
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2. L’Angoisse Du Vellieur De Nuit D’ Autoroute Les Soirs D’Alarme Á Accident
3. Traversée (MP3 SEGMENT)
5. Les Mains De Le’Empereur
6. Tu As Fai De Moi Un Homme Meilleur
9. Par Économie Penant La Crise On Éteint La Lumiére Au Bout Du Tunnel
10. La Bouche De Vitus Bering
As part of our current plundering of the French art-metal underground, Crucial Blast presents the North American release of 'Nord', the colossal debut from French ensemble Year Of No Light that was originally released via the French label Radar Swarm in 2006. Year Of No Light bring an amazing set of songwriting chops to the 10 songs that make up 'Nord', a heavy, chugging metallic monster that channels both gloomy atmospherics reminiscent of The Cure, and crushing Neurosis-inspired dirgecore, heavy, raw, and lumbering, but at times extremely beautiful and epic. To us, YEAR OF NO LIGHT's Nord seems to orbit the guitar-heavy early 90's alt rock of bands like Swervedriver and Dinosaur Jr., The Cure and My Bloody Valentine, just as much as it draws from the arty, crushing metallic post-hardcore pioneered by Old Man Gloom and Neurosis. Sure, there are a ton of bands out there that touch upon similiar influences, but we can't think of anyone recently that has delivered an album in this style that is quite this catchy and well-written. Nord flows seamlessly between passages of ultra melodic rock and frenzied bursts of dissonant, crushing hardcore, to austere radiant guitar figures and gorgeous ambient drones, to massive doomy dirge metal, utterly gorgeous Loveless-esque melodic bliss, and some almost folksy, but unbelievably EPIC riffs, with powerful, strained vocals fighting through their wall of sound. Presented in a 4-panel gatefold case from Stumptown Printers, and featuring all new artwork.
REVIEW FROM ECLAIM! MAGAZINE:
From France’s fertile art metal scene come Bordeaux’s Year of No Light, who weigh in with their unmatched debut, Nord. Using Neurosis merely as a launch pad, this bold quintet embark upon a sonic journey that leaves no Isis-coloured stone unturned. Simultaneously liberal and parsimonious, they paint in the broad strokes of the Ocean yet practice restraint like Overmars. “Traversée” reflects what made Godflesh so vital in the late ’90s, as it vacillates between Selfless-like fixity and Messiah-like infinity. “Mains de l’Empereur” follows a similar path, veering off near the end for a quieter acoustic place near Kansas’s “Dust in the Wind.” The ambient “Librium” allows a breathing space somewhere between Lull and Aube, while “Tu as Fait de Moi un Homme Meilleur” sports strains of tinny Big Country guitars. “Bouche de Vitus Bering” parallels Disembowelment, with gloomy, light-drinking chords and the mouldering death vocals of keyboardist Julien Perez. YONL balance perfect amounts of punctilio and laxity to generate one of the year’s most exhilarating records. (Chris Ayers)
REVIEW FROM DECIBEL MAGAZINE:
I know what you’re thinking: The mere thought of yet another young band shamelessly deriving its sound from the NeurIsis brand of epicus doomicus metallicus is enough to make one want to pass before even hearing it, but just bear with us here for a second and let us plead our case for Year of No Light, a French quintet that has managed to take a sound many had thought had reached its high water mark and infuse it with some subtle, yet fresh ideas on their spellbinding debut full-length.
The band wastes no time in letting us know they mean business. Both “Sélénite” and “Par économie pendant la crise on éteint la lumière au bout du tunnel” (now there’s a mouthful) are considerably more insistent than anything Isis have done in the last few years, but at the same time, match Isis’ ability to juxtapose shimmering melodies against such a seemingly impenetrable, doom-ridden backdrop. The hour-long Nord centers on two stunning nine-minute tracks: “Somnambule” might seem somnambulistic during its lugubrious opening half, but then the bottom falls out and we’re enveloped by gorgeous, Loveless-esque waves of guitars that would make Kevin Shields envious. The jaw-dropping “Traversée,” meanwhile, achieves the unthinkable, daring to rival Justin Broadrick’s finest work, first with its shimmering Jesu-like five minute intro, then its gloriously Godflesh-like conclusion. Nord isn’t without its flaws (guys, either mix those vocals higher or don’t bother with them at all), but it’s nonetheless the kind of debut we crave: audacious, memorable and supremely confident.
REVIEW FROM TRANSFORM ONLINE:
If there’s a subgenre of metal that definitely doesn’t need any more bodies piling up on the ol’ bandwagon, it’s the slow, hypnotic, sludgy brand of art-doom pioneered by Neurosis, popularized by Isis, and plagiarized by seemingly every young band under the sun. Most bands looking to pilfer this style pick up all the bad habits: the endless repetition, the patience-testing song lengths, and the menacing “atmosphere” that all too often masks, poorly, a lack of real songwriting chops. I could kinda go the rest of my life and never pick up another record in this vein.
But France’s Year Of No Light are definitely not just another NeurIsis knockoff, and their melodic, moody, creative debut is engaging enough to put them in the upper echelons of the genre. A number of reviews have compared them to The Cure, and sure enough, in its lighter moments, Nord does strongly suggest a hardcore Disintegration with its liberal use of swelling keyboards and celestial melody. The band have a better grasp on melody and song structure than virtually any of its contemporaries, and a welcome propensity to indulge more in its softer side than its brutal side. The absolute highlight comes at the tail end of the nine-minute “Somnambule,” when the rhythm section sinks into an epic Kevin Shields-style sea of sound that stretches on for four beautiful minutes. Pelican would shit themselves trying to write a song this good, and hey, I like Pelican. It is these moments that make Nord a welcome reprieve from other, lesser albums of this ilk.
Unfortunately, Year Of No Light are so on for the duration of the album that it makes their missteps stand out that much more glaringly. After building up a hell of a lot of goodwill with its majestic instrumental opener “Selenite,” the band launch into a rote screamfest that fails to impress (the title of which is very long, and very French). This happens a couple of times over the hour-long record, and it’s always a little dispiriting, because while the band are certainly capable of delivering a decent beating, it’s just not what they do best. The vocals are by-the-numbers throat-shredding, mixed way back and totally superfluous. The band would do well to lose the vocals altogether, a common problem among similar bands. But even when they’re resorting to straight-up metallic assaults, Year Of No Light are still a few steps up from your average longhairs.
Despite its flaws, Nord is one hell of a promising start from a band that already stands out from its peers. France’s underground metal scene has produced a shitload of winners recently, and these guys easily stand their ground with any of them. I think by the time the experience from one more LP rolls around, Year Of No Light will be unstoppable. Good stuff.