Halo of Flies
14 April 2013
by Ollie Connors
To say Light Bearer have lofty ambitions fortheir second full-length, Silver Tongue, would be an understatement of the most grievous proportions. Imagine a bookshelf; the bookends are resplendent; 24-carat gold, glittering diamonds, ornate curlicues, all that jazz. However sparkling these bookends are though, the only things between them are Frankie Boyle’s autobiography, a copy of Catcher In The Rye, and A Guide to Repairing Your 1984 Ford Escort.
The second installment of what Light Bearer are calling the “Æsahættr (God Destroyer) Tetralogy”, this album is an interpretation of works the likes of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and Dante’s Divine Comedy through the eyes of Lucifer. Comprising of six tracks totalling over 80 minutes in length, the scope and reach of this record alone is dazzling, as are the styles they encompass. Falling somewhere between the post-metal of Isis, Neurosis and Red Sparowes, and the heart-achingly beautiful post-rock of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Light Bearer also incorporate elements of doomy sludge akin to frontman Alex CF’s old outfit, Fall Of Efrafa, along the way.
‘Beautiful Is This Burden’ starts with morose atmospherics and gossamer-thin strings, and crashes into life with a cataclysmic release of malevolent ire, and employs post-rock-esque melodies to wonderful effect here, constantly building and releasing tension, swelling and bursting like a flower in bloom. At just over 18 minutes in length, this is the very zenith of long-form experimental metal, jaw-dropping from start to finish, and by far and away the most frustrating thing about this record. Light Bearer clearly know exactly how to start a record, but what follows on from a magnificent, colossal beginning is 40 minutes of torpor.
‘Amalgam’ and ‘Matriarch’ are formless and directionless; whatever momentum was built up by the wonderful opener is quickly annulled, as passages are stretched far beyond necessary and the album allows lethargy to settle in. Its mood is relentless dark and doleful; even when a glimmer of light appears towards the end, any semblance of hope is quickly smothered by the overarching monotonous, anhedonic chug. ‘Aggressor & Usurper’ add a little bite to proceedings following short interlude ‘Clarus’, sounding at times like the violin-addled screamo of We Came Out Like Tigers, but it feels like an instrumental piano/cello passage is thrown in the middle for the sake of it, rather than to serve any particular purpose. It’s a better effort than the rest of the album’s middle tracks overall, but for the majority of the track’s 16 minute plus course, consitutes little more than filler.
Thankfully, the final eponymous track brings the quality level back up to the heights Light Bearer are clearly capable of achieving. It combines the very best of the London sextet’s qualities to create a sprawling, coruscating epic. Alex CF’s roars (and a spot of sweetly-sung clean lines) are the most intelligible they’ve been on this record thus far, retelling the story of His Dark Materials (Silvertongue is the given surname of that trilogy’s heroine, Lyra), as humanity wages war on its tyrannical creator. Take just this album’s opener and closer, and I’d call it an instant classic in the world of post-metal, but the content they lay in between falls short of this album’s vision and breadth.
Sounds Like: The original Star Wars trilogy, if you replaced The Empire Strikes Back with The Phantom Menace.
Standout Tracks: Beautiful Is This Burden, Silver Tongue