08 Jun 2022 - Simon
Post-Metal / Doom | Consouling Sounds | Release date: 17 Jun 2022
Post metal heavyweights Hundred Year Old Man return with an astonishing, beguiling new album
This review of Leeds based post metal titans Hundred Year Old Man and their new album Sleep in Light is going to be tough to do for a couple of reasons. The first is that I am an unashamed massive fan of this band so am worried about being impartial, but you know what, I always try to write what I feel about an album without any baggage so I hope that shouldn’t affect my opinion of this album. The second reason is because of the crushing tragedy which befell the band. I’m not going into details about it, but the shadow of this tragic event hangs over the whole album (how could it not) and makes it tricky to detach from the music, but then again, there really is no need for that to be the case, it seeps into the very fabric of this album and makes it the utter masterpiece that it is.
This album could write the rulebook on balancing the opposing aural forces of heavy and ambient. Its very easy for bands to veer too far into one direction to the detriment of the other, but Hundred Year Old Man are far too good at what they do for that to be an issue. The first song A New Terror emphasises this point perfectly. The clean guitar which kicks things off is glorious and every so slightly melancholy in nature, this soon gives way to an ever increasing rolling bolder of sonic heaviness picking up increased ferocity in the various instruments as it goes, until just when you think it cant increase any more, it breaks apart like shafts of light on a cloudy day and those oh so wonderful lush ambient sounds make an entrance to lift the spirits ever upwards.
The second song and title track Sleep in Light is up next and honestly, the first time I heard it, I immediately restarted it again to try and wrap my head around what I’d just heard. It’s stunning. The sheer heights of shimmering clean sounds morphing seamlessly into the most pummelling depths of sonic heft are astonishing. In one memorable section blast beats make a brilliant appearance which pushes the song into uncharted territories of grandeur, it floored me.
I could go on, but I just don’t think I could do this album justice, so instead let’s try and go into how this album makes me feel. The atmosphere is at times so utterly despondent that you can almost physically hear the rage being channelled by the band. If this was all there was, it could almost get a touch too much to bear, but its far too good to let that happen, just when you need it, the music relents and those uplifting sections come along to whisper, “yes things are terrible, but you know what, there is joy to be found amongst it”. The tinges of hope found in this album are what truly make it a special album.
This is not just an album to put on in the background, it’s a sonic experience which you fall into, get lost in, and then come out the other side a slightly different person. This album is about universal themes of loss which you can escape from, its heavy stuff, and not just sonically but emotionally too, if you let it, the sounds of heartache and hope will wrap their arms around you and envelope you in their embrace. Honestly, this album is utterly magnificent and will almost certainly top my albums of the year, please go and listen and support this band. And finally, it would be remiss of me not to say that please look out for each other, if you or someone close to you is feeling low then there are resources to help, you are not alone. Stay safe everyone.