Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Light Bearer - Silver Tongue

Silver Tongue is the second chapter of Light Bearer’s planned Æsahættr Tetralogy, a chapter preceded by 2011’s monumental album, Lapsus, a record you may recall was the album of the year in 2011 on this very blog. Following up with a stunning 21 minute odyssey in the shape of ‘Celestium Apocrypha: Book of Watchers’, which emerged last year on the split LP with Northless,  we saw the London post metal band expand a great deal on the ideas of Lapsus in breathtaking fashion, hinting that maybe Lapsus was only the tip of the iceberg. Naturally, weighty expectations have engulfed Silver Tongue, the band’s astoundingly sprawling album that hits 79 minutes.

Silver Tongue has a lot to take in. It’s just not possible to get everything from this album with only a few listens. It’s similar to Lapsus in that regard, but simply augmented a great deal. Light Bearer’s music has, while being destructively heavy for the most part, been equally uplifting, melodic and often just beautiful. There’s an enriching cathartic nature to the band’s sleek melodies and dreamy ambience washing over the cataclysmic, sludgy riffing all topped off by the affecting, heart wrenching but still so coarse vocals of Alex CF.

As was surely intended, Silver Tongue is a true epic journey record. You know so straight away from ‘Beautiful is this Burden’, the vast 18 minute opener that begins with slow, unfurling strings soon joined by a light brass section that’s totally captivating, and this is all before the frenzied eruption of heavy, dense walls of guitars and vocals kick in. From there, Light Bearer unveil a hail of dizzying emotion that will leave you reeling and this is only the first song.

This is an album wrought with a great deal of emotional fervour in every note. More melody has seeped into the band’s sound all the while the album has some of the band’s heaviest riffing yet. The dark and light shades are evidenced by ‘Amalgam’ and ‘Matriarch’, where the former sees the band traverse through more belligerently and crushingly heavy passages, the latter is a subdued 11 minute effort with slow creeping croons that invoke feelings both of the ghostly and serene.

Where Lapsus was a slower album comparatively, Silver Tongue manages to up the pace in many areas while also maintaining that doom-inflected trudge at the same time, a skill definitely made possible by the album’s long running time, where the band can shoehorn in more and more ideas but also done tastefully so. This is exhibited very much so by the near-17 minutes of ‘Aggressor & Usurper’, detonating with chunkier riffs that gather in force to create one of the album’s more adrenaline dripping tracks, all intensified by Alex CF’s emotive vocal delivery. There are even moments on the track that hark to Momentum’s Whetting Occam’s Razor, the brief hardcore band that featured Alex alongside three other members of Light Bearer. It makes for a suitable nod to the band’s so fervent hardcore roots.

Unsurprisingly, Light Bearer chooses to end the record on the most grandiose of notes with the 19 minute title track. It’s a track that coalesces all of the band’s strengths and ambitions, lined with melody and heart stopping splendour, all deftly crafted into one sublime work of art. It’s beautiful and captivating; with emotion pouring from the every fissure of the record and Alex CF probably delivers his most poignant vocal yet, all scaling to a devastatingly beautiful crescendo and conclusion.

It was almost hard to envisage how Silver Tongue would play out, given the immensity of Lapsus and ‘Celestium Apocrypha’, but Light Bearer have thrown caution to the wind once again and embraced total ambition on what is, for now, their finest moment.

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