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Year Of No Light - "Ausserwelt " (CD)

Year Of No Light - "Ausserwelt " CD cover image

"Ausserwelt " track listing:

1. Perséphone I (11:53)
2. Perséphone II (9:34)
3. Hiérophante (13:13)
4. Abbesse (13:08)

Reviewed by on May 30, 2010

"While 'Ausserwelt' seems to be just another plain-old drone/doom metal album at first glance, there is a sinister side to the band that rears its grotesque head quite often."

An album like Year of No Light’s “Ausserwelt” is hard to analyze because of all the layers that are built on top of each other. Even after a dozen complete listens, there are still certain nuances to be picked up; a low electronic buzz in the background or a keyboard note placed in the middle of sonic dissonance. The four tracks on “Ausserwelt” have so much in them that it can get overwhelming, as certain sections disintegrate into extended bouts of fuzzy noise. It takes a patient mind to fully accept “Ausserwelt.” The album makes you work for it, but the result is one of satisfaction.

Unlike their 2006 debut album “Nord,” “Ausserwelt” has no vocals and the songs are much more fleshed out. There are no short interludes to be found here; everything that needs to be expressed is in the three epics. While there are four songs, “Perséphone” is split into two distinct parts that combine to form a twenty-plus minute opus. Since the album is instrumental, there are long periods of droning guitars and ambient sounds. Most of these are placed near the last few minutes of every song, which gets a little repetitive near the end.

While “Ausserwelt” seems to be just another plain-old drone/doom metal album at first glance, there is a sinister side to the band that rears its grotesque head quite often. Year of No Light seems to have a little black metal blood in them, as evident by various moments in “Perséphone II” and “Abbesse.” What is great about these sections is that they usually come after minutes of slow build-up. In much of the album, the guitar work plays a key role in formulating the dark atmospheric tones of the songs, but with these black metal sections, drummer Mathieu Mégemont becomes the leader. His precise blast beats and varied fills keep things unstable without going into sloppy territory.

One of the unsung elements of “Ausserwelt” is the electronic/keys work. It isn’t profound or right up in the mix; it lays lows, augmenting the rest of the band. This is the perfect place for this aspect of the sound, as it would have been distracting to hear calm ambient sections with blaring keys ala power metal. There’s so much going on throughout the album that some may not even notice that there is any keyboard or electronic components.

Picking out one definitive highlight is a daunting task. While it might not have been intentional by the band, “Ausserwelt” feels like one complete work and should be treated as such. Both parts of “Perséphone” really define the direction Year of No Light wanted to take on their sophomore album and the other two tracks follow suit. What’s remarkable about the album is the fact that the band doesn’t mince their sound around. When it is melodic, it comes off as hypnotic. When it is brutal, it comes off as devastating. There is no middle ground, which makes for captivating musical exploration.

Hardcore drone/doom metal fans will pick up hints of Isis and Om in “Ausserwelt,” but Year of No Light is their own unique entity. The lack of vocals actually works in keeping the listener fully engaged in the bleak world that the French band has delicately crafted. It seems that this album has passed by a lot of metal fans, which is understandable considering the niche markets that drone/doom share. While “Ausserwelt” won’t convert the doom haters into passionate fans, it is able to do something that most instrumental albums fail to do: maintain interest from start to finish.

Highs: Keeps the listener interested from start to finish, the gripping black metal breakdowns, albums sounds like a complete body of work.

Lows: The fact that each song ends with long bouts of ambience gets repetitive, won't convert doom/drone critics.

Bottom line: Year of No Light fleshes their sound out and explores ambient sounds on their sophomore effort.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)