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Hull - "Beyond The Lightless Sky" (CD)

Hull - "Beyond The Lightless Sky" CD cover image

"Beyond The Lightless Sky" track listing:

1. Earth From Water (11:18)
2. Just A Trace Of Early Dawn (5:04)
3. Beyond The Lightless Sky (6:52)
4. Curling Winds (2:38)
5. Fire Vein (9:42)
6. Wake The Heavens, Reveal The Sun (2:44)
7. False Priest (8:45)
8. A Light That Shone From Aside The Sea (3:14)
9. In Death, Truth (6:41)

Reviewed by on December 31, 2011

"Looking back at 'Sole Lord,' Hull seemed to be testing the water with what would become on 'Beyond The Lightless Sky.' No doubt strengthened by time and touring non-stop, Hull has reached past the hype and staked their own ground as an affluent metal act."

Hull impressed many with their debut album “Sole Lord,” though it was really more hype than quality in this writer's mind. Every good idea was tucked underneath layers of dull sludge and aimless ambience. That’s what makes “Beyond The Lightless Sky” even more of a marvel. Whether it was a result of focused writing/recording sessions or a comfort area found with their sound, this sophomore record improves on any faults of “Sole Lord” and shows more promise than what came out from Hull a few years back.

“Earth From Water” is almost a rebirth for Hull, and the riskiest chance the band has taken to date. Clocking in at a hefty 11 minutes, this opener signals a fresh era in the band’s timeline. There’s no real traditional structure around the track, as the solos seem to pulsate with the glee of a jam practice, and the transitions between varied tempos are effortless. Any group that can start a record with a song in double digits and not turn off a listener deserves credit, and Hull should be showered with praise for pulling this off.

“Beyond The Lightless Sky” avoids stifling Hull’s creativity in composing songs, but the album itself has a very rigid flow. Each song is followed up by a lengthy interlude, and that pattern repeats itself several times. If the breaks between songs were lackluster, that could be a negative component, but Hull makes each an important piece to the album. The acoustic-led “Just A Trace Of Early Dawn” features a guest cellist and keyboardist, while Jarboe lends her recognizable voice to chant on “Wake The Heavens, Reveal The Sun.”

The other songs don’t match the glory of “Earth From Water,” but have their own individual high points. The title track enters a blackened storm with a fury of blast beats and static riffing at the halfway mark. The variety alone makes “Fire Vein” worth spending ten minutes with, as the acoustic guitars and clean vocals scattered throughout will catch many by surprise. “In Death, Truth” is rooted in a no-frills sludge environment, clashing with the more open-ended nature of the other tracks.

As musicians, Hull has improved enough to be able to justify the lengths a few select tunes enter. The guitars, in particular, have abandoned any of the trepidation of “Sole Lord” and let the leads take precedence over the tracks. The vocals are still the same howls and screams, with a few melodic croons thrown in, and the dueling style of the vocals is exciting to listen to. The progression made in all facets of the band form “Sole Lord” to “Beyond The Lightless Sky” is abundant.

Looking back at “Sole Lord,” Hull seemed to be testing the water with what would become on “Beyond The Lightless Sky.” No doubt strengthened by time and touring non-stop, Hull has reached past the hype and staked their own ground as an affluent metal act. Though the interludes later on don’t garnish the same type of positive reactions the earlier ones will, they all help bind “Beyond The Lightless Sky” as a legitimate piece of music for metal fans.

Highs: A mesh of different styles and a willingness to experiment works in the band's favor, interludes that aren't just wastes of space, improved guitar work

Lows: Some of the later interludes drag on too long

Bottom line: Hull takes many chances with their sound on their second record, and most of them pay off in spades in solidifying their place as a top metal act.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 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)