Review: Year of No Light – Nord

Review by: Meriel Longmore
Review score: 3/5

When it comes to influential bands such as NEUROSIS, there are many who wish to imitate their sound, some are predictable perhaps even a little dull, but others such as the French YEAR OF NO LIGHT show some real promise in their own right. Despite the undeniable similarities to stalwarts such as CULT OF LUNA, ISIS et al, “Nord” is full of soaring epic melodies, avant-garde effects and blistering screamed hardcore vocals that really tend to linger in the memory. Yes, YEAR OF NO LIGHT make no secret of their influences but their talent for epic songwriting cannot be overlooked.

One of the elements that makes NEUROSIS so successful (when considering their later releases) is their aptitude for building amazing atmospheres through layer upon layer of slowly building walls of sound and sludgy feedback. YEAR OF NO LIGHT also manage to pull this off with ease while also maintaining their own character. “Nord” tends to take the basic NEUROSIS / ISIS format and really stretch it to its limits, throwing in some extra heaviness in the form of droning doom-laden riffs, subtle interludes and calming reflective instrumental sections, Post-Rock style crescendos, and cold, melancholic electronic ambience.

Considering this is only the first official release for YEAR OF NO LIGHT (though they have released further titles since its release in 2006), it is certainly a masterful album that is both mature and could easily be mistaken for the works of a longer established band. Perhaps then it is not so surprising to learn that the band shares members with none other than MONARCH among a number of other bands. Therefore it seems natural that YEAR OF NO LIGHT tend to veer towards Doom in their overall approach. Although this release may be loosely defined as Post-Hardcore, it is definitely at the more extreme end of the scale. The style of vocals performed also support this statement as generally they are harshly executed in a screamed or roughly shouted style. Admittedly this style of screaming that is certainly more common in the Hardcore / Punk / DIY community and will not be to the taste of those who strictly follow Metal in its truest of forms. However, “Nord” is the ideal choice for those who enjoy arty, experimental hardcore. YEAR OF NO LIGHT may be described as “thinking man’s music” and may easily appeal to fans of ENVY, CULT OF LUNA, EARTH, ISIS, SWITCHBLADE, MONO, BOTCH, NEUROSIS, 65 DAYS OF STATIC, THE OCEAN, ANDSOIWATCHYOUFROMAFAR, BURIED INSIDE, CONIFER, SNOWBLOOD, ROSETTA, CONVERGE, RUSSIAN CIRCLES, PELICAN, and HUMANFLY. Challenging Doom / Drone / Dirge / Post-Hardcore for the free-thinkers and well worth taking a chance on!