Year of No Light - Tocsin (2013)
Debemur Morti Productions
Review by Trevor Proctor
Hailing from Bordeaux, Year of no Light have been active since 2001 but Tocsin is only their third full length release – the first being “Nord” which was released in 2006. Significant personnel changes in 2008 led to the band becoming an instrumental six piece featuring two drummers, three guitar players and a bass/keyboards & synth player. Their second album, Ausserwelt, was released in 2010 and saw the band bringing more black and doom influences to their simmering melting pot of ideas – whilst 3 albums over a period of 12 years may seem slack to some the band have been quite prolific in releasing split LPs and have also released a live recording from Holland’s revered Roadburn festival. Tocsin is Year of No Light’s first release with Debenmur Morti records and sees the band explore more musical worlds with even more influences and variation than ever.
Tocsin’s title track kicks off the album, it’s a slow burner with a simple synth, sluggish drum beats and lonely guitar notes for the first three minutes – this gentle, hypnotic start belies the doom and desolation that’s to come, it takes just over three minutes into this fourteen minute composition for any sign of distorted guitar but once it does you’ve a good seven minutes of heavy as hell distortion to come – this is heavy heavy stuff at times.
Gehenne is the only track on the album lasting less than ten minutes; it doesn’t hang about and throws the listener straight into an upbeat, up-tempo belter of a track. The opening guitar riff sounds like something plucked straight from a New Order or Editors album – this is not a bad thing, it works perfectly well, sticks in the mind and most of all shows Year of No Light are a band unafraid to express musical diversity in order to pursue their own sound. This is six minutes that again flashes by but it’s a nice interlude and fits into the overall structure of the album perfectly. Aside from the music itself the other thing that amazed me with this album is how quickly time passes, even the thirteen to fourteen minute tracks make time pass very quickly – closer Alamut is a breath taking musical opus lasting over fourteen minutes, it has a five minute build up that mesmerises and grasps your attention until they reach a glorious explosion of sound that rips your ears off yet keeps building and building and the fourteen minutes flash by.
The great thing about this album is it’s not just the complex, heavy gradual build ups that grasp your attention but also the simple, basic intros – in fact the entire album holds your attention from the off, it’s incredible just how quickly the time passes when listening to this – I’ve been listening to Tocsin for a full week now and it’s a joy to listen to each and every time. Excellent in the studio this band would be some spectacle live – I recently missed the opportunity to see them live at Damnation festival, more fool me, that’s not an opportunity I’ll ever let pass by again. A hypnotic yet heavy tour de force this is a magnificent piece of musicianship.
4. Stella Rectix
Tocsin is released by Debemur Morti Productions and is available now.