23 Jun 2021 - Thorsten
Post-Metal | Pelagic Records | Release date: 02 Jul 2021
A few years ago Public Enemy released a track called “Don’t Believe The Hype” which by now has become a kind of catch-phrase and motto not to fall for something that seemingly everybody is rooting for. Well, when listening to the new Year Of No Light record Consolamentum I have to counter with “YES, BELIEVE THE HYPE!”
Maybe writing a review on this record is just too simple with the only difficulty being left is not being too much of a fanboy. The Bordeaux-sixpiece was formed exactly 20 years ago and to commemorate this birthday, they teamed up with Pelagic for both a wooden discography including basically all the songs they ever released and for their new full-length Consolamentum, their 5th full-length (counting the soundtrack to the old horror movie Vampyre and not counting the several full-length-like splits they did). This is their first release since 2017 and their first full-length since 2013 and therefore this might be one of the most anticipated and hyped records of all of 2021.
Of course that must lead to the question of whether they can justify all of this commotion with these five songs and 55 minutes. The answer is simple and clear: Yes, they can, and yes the hype is real. This band might just have needed this break from releasing records constantly (between 2004 and 2013 they published twelve releases!) - but let’s be clear, they have a flawless discography. With the early-on-addition of a second drummer the band was able to weave sonic carpets completely different from any other band with a few exceptions like Kylesa maybe. That is also something that must be noted on Consolamentum: the rhythm section comprised of bassist Johan Sebenne and the drummers Mathieu Mégemont and Bertrand Sebenne is perfect to the t. They give the songs so much space and massiveness that words can hardly describe it. As those three are also responsible for the keyboard and synth sounds, we cannot but call them the singular element of Year Of No Light, for the band always was and still is the perfect balance between Post-Metal and Post-Rock – between Rosetta and East Of The Wall, with both bands they also already shared the best three-way-split in “Post-music”-history back in 2010.
Now – if we try to place this release somewhere in the discography of the band, where should it find its spot? Well, it is definitely somehow more muscular than the rest of the rest, but it also got these things, enlightening and opening moments. To show up the “more muscular”: listen to the middle part of the single ”Alétheia” when the drumming turns into more of a march and the bass gives it more fleshiness just before the guitars kick in and everything is hurricane for a few seconds. That hurricane is repeated towards the end and it feels as if the drummers always to kick it up just another notch to see how far they can take it. The noisy ending of the final track ”Came” is also very strong: this is not unusual for the Bordelais, but has not often been done with as much harsh feedback than hear.
One thing that draws me to Consolamentum is their ability to embellish the really brilliant bass sound (it sounds as if one can hear each turn of the string vibrate meanderingly) with equally perfect synths to give their sound this little extra. I do not want to think of the band as having needed this long break, but what I can consider is that this is one of their shorter records and at the same time maybe the most concise one. These things songs, ”Alétheia” being the shortest one with 7:40 minutes, are so clearly structured and so well-arranged that one cannot but be in awe. Maybe they needed the longer break to clarify to themselves where they wanted to go with this album. The album alleviates the listener to the highest of heights and even when he falls, he is never falling to death, for he will be caught be yet another perfect example of a band close to perfection.
One thing that should also be noted is that slightly hidden sense of humour with ”Came” being some kind of French slang for smoking weed. However, this band is not a jokster band; for example the titles tell you something about where the band wanted to go with this record - Consolamentum shall give people comfort in time of need, shall console them. Or just think of ”Alétheia” being the Greek goddess of Truth or ”Réalgar” being a deep-red kind of ruby – the same color that is now the theme-color for the new release.
Wherever Year Of No Light have been all these years, one must admit that if they come back with such an album of sheer massive riffs, swirling crescendos buried deep underneath mind-blowing riffs, laid out over a voluminous carpet of bass paired with synths – if they always need much time for such examples of perfection, then okay: I will wait till 2029 for the next masterpiece to blow my mind, with Consolamentum I got something to help me through the hard years of waiting.
This is their wonderful video for “Réalgar”: