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A Storm Of Light - "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" (CD)

A Storm Of Light - "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" CD cover image

"Forgive Us Our Trespasses" track listing:

1. Alpha (Law Of Nature Pt. 1) (2:20)
2. Amber Waves Of Gray (7:48)
3. Tempest (5:00)
4. The Light In Their Eyes (5:50)
5. Trouble Is Near (6:13)
6. Arc Of Failure (Law Of Nature Pt. 2) (2:51)
7. Midnight (8:56)
8. Across The Wilderness (6:17)
9. Time Our Saviour (Law Of Nature Pt. 3) (1:28)
10. Omega (11:37)

Reviewed by on October 17, 2009

"This album is not meant to be played at loud volumes out of a speeding 4-door sedan; a level of attention needs to be paid to grasp the magnitude of doom that Graham and company have created."

The name Josh Graham may be one that is familiar to Neurosis fans. While never picking up an instrument or singing a single note, Graham was the mastermind behind much of the visual media used during the band’s live shows and artwork for later albums “Given To The Rising” and “The Eye Of Every Storm.” Graham has a few side projects where his musical ambitions are fully realized, including A Storm Of Light, which just recently put out their sophomore album “Forgive Us Our Trespasses.” A grim doom metal affair, the influence of Graham’s past is strong on the album, yet he adds his own flair to make for a trudging expedition into the bleak unknown.

While Neurosis has moments in their music where everything is amped up and a cacophony of static riffs emit from the darkness, A Storm Of Light takes a measured approach to their sound. The album plods on, never kicking things into the next level or reaching a head bang-worthy momentum. This is a precise assault on the senses, luring the listener in like a mouse to the cheese trap, before snapping down with one swift motion.

Atmosphere is the key to “Forgive Us Our Trespasses.” Without it, the album would be nothing more than a repetitive trek through the mundane. Every melody, every note and every angst-ridden vocal results in some level of emotional response. There aren’t any hopeful undertones contained within the album’s walls; just downtrodden and gloomy feelings of emptiness entrenched in the lyrics. “The origin of birth revealed/the lake of fire calls you home” and “deep inside your flesh and bone/runs rivers of war” impose a torturous weight on “Midnight,” while “Amber Waves Of Gray” laments the destruction of the world around us as nature looks on in despair.

One of the main concepts behind the album is “Law Of Nature,” a poem by Lydia Lunch that revolves around the idea of how our society came to fruition. Split into three parts spread throughout the album, each one features the poem conducted by Lunch’s haunting spoken word. These passages tie the whole album together to make for one complete package that is made to be listened to from start to finish.

Graham has a major role in A Storm Of Light, contributing guitar, banjo, piano, synthesizer, and vocal work. He does a credible job with all of these aspects, though vocals are not his strong suit. While his clean, depressive manner works well with the music, his tone never changes. His range is strong, but his voice grates on the nerves from time to time. Domenic Seita and Andy Rice, on bass and drums respectively, are the sturdy backbone that keeps “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” on its toes.

Graham brought on several guest musicians to enhance the already sterile atmosphere. Violinist Carla Kihlstedt and cellist Marika Hughes contribute just the right amount of sullenness to the “Law Of Nature” trilogy, while vocalist Jarboe adds her trademark chants and moans to “Arc Of Failure” and “Across The Wilderness.”

“Forgive Us Our Trespasses” may not click with a good portion of the metal audience. It’s a frustrating album to sink into, as A Storm Of Light maintains a steady, mid-paced speed that never breaks loose. Even after multiple listens, the lack of immediate hooks works against the band. Once the album fully resonates with the listener, the true potential is exposed. This album is not meant to be played at loud volumes out of a speeding 4-door sedan; a level of attention needs to be paid to grasp the magnitude of doom that Graham and company have created. Neurosis fans will appreciate what Graham is trying to do, but “Forgive Us Our Trespasses” also has the ears of the traditional doom metal fan in mind as well.

Highs: Gloomy atmosphere, a group of talented musicians backing Graham up, doom metal that hits many emotional spectrums

Lows: Graham's vocals are lacking in places, never gets out of first gear

Bottom line: Doom metal with an artistic vision and broad emotional scope that laments the harsh treatment of nature.

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)