Final Light - s/t

28 Jul 2022 - Dan D.

Blackened Synthwave | Red Creek | Release date: 24 Jun 2022

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Skynet is winning. The world is in ruin. Buildings stand no more, and the remains of civilisation lay strewn across the wastelands we once called home. Only a brave few members of the resistance remain.

Where once was an army, now only a few dozen survivors stand and fight to preserve what is left of humanity. Scarred and malnourished they are wondering how long they can keep carrying on.

On a salvaging mission a relic of days long past is found. A portable stereo holding a copy of Final Light by Final Light. Handed to the resistance leader, they all huddle underground and listen to the sounds contained on this shiny plastic disc. As a newfound energy flows through them all, these brave soldiers are now more determined to fight than they have ever been. Forward they advance in to battle and even if it is their last at least they will die fighting!

And die they did but all was not lost as the T-800’s very much enjoyed the exquisite sounds emanating from the speakers of the old boombox. Final Light was the soundtrack for a new world.

For those of you who do not know, Final Light is a project between French synthwave master Perturbator (aka James Kent) and Cult of Luna’s guitarist and growler extraordinaire Johannes Persson, which was initiated by Roadburn Festival in 2019 as one of their much-lauded collaborations. And it’s bloody fantastic.

Started prior to the world grinding to a halt due to SARS-CoV-2, the resulting extra time gave Messrs Kent and Persson a chance to hone and perfect the tracks they were working on, and the resulting album is remarkable.

Final Light takes the post-metal formula perfected by Cult of Luna and replaces a majority of the instrumentation with synthesizers. Who’d have known it would work so well! James Kent’s electronic palette is wide and rich, as anyone who has listened to Pertubator would already be aware, and they are used to stunning affect throughout the duration of this album. From the opening siren-like sounds on “Nothing Will Bear Your Name”, various layers of synthesizers permeate each track, but they are never overbearing. No one sound is used to the detriment of another and perfectly compliments the guitar work. The use of a drum machine rather than traditional drums is also a wise choice. I’m an advocate of drum machines (hell, I’m a lover of early industrial music and I see similarities in some of the tracks on this album to those on Ministry’s masterworks The Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Taste and ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ – especially “Scarecrow” from the latter) and feel that this album would not have been as cohesive or effective with the use of beats of the non-electronic variety. They drive each track forward unrelenting and machine-like.

Johannes Persson never disappoints from a vocal perspective and lyrically he’s at his most nihilistic. Take “It Came with the Water” for example where the first lines of the song are: “Down under dim light / A cell divides / Pain as life withers / Pale skin / Dead heart”

Persson is not messing around here and the songs seethe with anger and a sense of hopelessness. If Cult of Luna’s Vertikal and Vertikal II took inspiration from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, then Final Light sees the futuristic urban dystopia from that film fully destroyed and turned into a burning, post-apocalyptic landscape where no life remains.

Whilst preparing this review I’ve obviously listened to the album multiple times, and it truly gets better with each listen. It’s one of those albums that lends itself to repeated play throughs. I would usually recommend certain tracks over others but in this instance I won’t. Final Light needs to be listened to in its entirety, preferably on headphones with the listeners full attention.

The sad news is that this album appears to be a one off, but if this is the case, I’d much rather have one Final Light album than none at all. I know this has been a gushing review, but this truly is a unique album and a sure-fire AOTY contender that deserves recognition.