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A Storm of Light: Nations to Flames

Listening to this album is like watching a well-executed suspense thriller. As each minute goes by, the torment of wondering what's going to happen next grows stronger and stronger, leaving the audience's nerves in knots but their delight in the overall experience strong and satisfied. Unlike a movie, however, this album doesn't necessarily have a plot that needs resolution, characters that are in peril, or a damsel in distress. Instead, this album is about the larger thematic concern, the despair even, of living in a world in which things are falling apart around us, causing overwhelming feelings of doubt, concern, and anxiety. Like T. S. Eliot's poem, "The Waste Land," this is a poem that responds to its times with a heavy dose of resignation and, at times, some slight hints of hope.

I don't mean to imply that this album is structured like a mystery or something like that. It's a musical release, after all, one that could be enjoyed without too much thought to its larger purposes. Still, the themes make up such a key part of the overall experience here that audiences should be careful about skimming too much off of the thematic surface. For my money, this is a very powerful musical response to a world in decline. It isn't so much a political rant as it is an attempt to capture the angst of living in an uncertain world. I thought it worked beautifully.

True, the band isn't all that subtle—see especially tracks like "The Year is One"—but they aren't so heavy handed that this album comes off as one long complaint. Instead, the music generates a strong atmosphere of suspense and concern and does so in ways that make for interesting listening as well as interesting thinking. I admired the connection of music with clips from movies, most of which sound like they came from cold war science fiction films, but I don't know that for sure. Lots of bands mix media, but these guys bring it all together to make for a satisfying experience.

Ultimately, this is a heavy album, but not in the sense of brutal guitars and raspy vocals. No, the heaviness on this one comes from the churning rhythm of the guitars and the slightly plaintive vocals. The result is a strong album that leaves listeners with very little doubt that world conditions are in a very bad way. It's a timely reminder.

Track Listing:
1. Fall
2. Apostles of Hatred
3. The Fire Sermon
4. Omen
5. Dead Flags
6. All the Shining Lies
7. Disintegrate
8. Lifeless
9. Soothsayer
10. You Are the Hunted
11. The Year is One

Added: November 2nd 2013
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1953
Language: english

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