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Isis' bastard child - 88%

karma_sleeper, August 20th, 2008

Nowadays, it’s easy to find bands shooting for the Isis hallmarks. Why not? For most people, dirgey riffs are easier to swallow with pleasant melodies. But don’t dismiss these French atmospheric metallers for Isis doppelgangers just yet. Year of No Light has launched itself to the forefront of atmospheric ‘metalgaze’ with a powerful album some bands would take years to cultivate.

Nord begins with a song blooming with layer upon layer of rich, interwoven melody. It’s as though the entire song were a crescendo sculpted and manipulated to perfection; reconstructing each layer of melody into something new and enticing. After a while, the intensity levels off, and the song deconstructs itself through the same droning chords by which it began. At this moment, you realize Year of No Light has something more up its sleeve than shamelessly aping of its predecessors. Songs like the opener ‘Sélénite’ capture a balance between serenity and skull crushing power rarely seen.

Other songs coat gargantuan riffs with sweet melodies like icing on a cake. The result builds in form and substance until it reaches the boiling point. The tension is released. Unstoppable riffs hollow out your ears, feedback bleeds them dry, and you’re left thirsting for more.

Nord is not without its faults. Shrieking vocals rise painfully as if from the bottom of a well – muffled and distant. An homage to Isis no doubt. Nord also tops an hour. While I insist you can never have too much of a good thing, eating too much ice cream still gives you a splitting headache. The same can be said for the latter part of this album. It never stops delivering a masterful blend of aggressive dirge like jangles, but things start to hurt.

Whatever minor abnormalities distress you, Nord comes back twice as strong each time. Constant build ups, calculated releases, and passionate plateaus of textured melodic perfection are guaranteed to please. If you can turn a blind eye to obvious imitations of Isis, Cult of Luna, and Neurosis then you will definitely appreciate the grander scheme layered beneath said crust.