Ausserwelt is the sophomore album from Year Of No Light following up their excellent debut, Nord; and while this outfit took a bit of time in between the two records, evidently some turmoil aided in the birthing of the four pieces to be heard on Ausserwelt; the band cleared these issues and underwent some lineup shuffling before finally laying this album down in the studio. While, I am not sure what transpired while writing and recording this album, Year Of No Light certainly avoided any and all talk about not following up their debut with a sub par offering in any sense of the word.
Admittedly, I had Nord in my rotation quite a bit when it first came out in 2006 or so and found it to be pretty damn good; but after a while, the album fell out of the rotation and into the thick of records that “I should go back and listen to at some point” (you know the type of record good, maybe great, but not enough to crack into your constant rotation). When Ausserwelt was finally announced to be coming out, my ears immediately pricked up like a cat’s when they hear something; there were some splits along the way to the album to ignite a bit more interest until the album dropped in my lap, beautiful looking record on top of that (the artwork is completely fitting for the sounds on that vinyl slab).
Two words jump to my mind when the band comes down a short time into “Persephone I” as this sounds “HUGE” and “Bombastic” (well not exactly two words, my reaction was more like “holy sh*t this is awesome, powerful, and huge sounding” while my eyes opened wide in excitement but those two words certainly describe that initial recognition way better), and as the album plays these descriptors hold up very well and may just sum the whole record up in the perfect way. So, I throw the record on again right after the needle picks up off the platter, disk one, side a, track one, and proceed to listen Ausserwelt a second time while punching the keys on my computer telling my friend that he needs to check the album out immediately because it is really damn good. While I am listening to the record the second time through and discussing it with my friend (who had not heard the record yet) its merits, I ask him, “didn’t Year Of No Light have vocals before on Nord?”
Year Of No Light changed from a band that plied wares and sounds not unlike those bands influenced by Neurosis and early Isis (maybe a dash of Cult Of Luna) into an all instrumental juggernaut with sweeping dynamic movements and absolutely striking musical passages that grabs one’s imagination in the best possible ways all in the course of the four years that the encompassed the writing and recording of Ausserwelt, and while their songs shifted from the three to six minute shocks of brute force and arresting power to that of much longer songs filled with dynamic shifts and striking arrangements, the change works extremely well for the band. Quite an excellent record that is expressive and engrossing, Ausserwelt is an artistic achievement that may turn out to be one of the biggest touchstones in the oeuvre of Year Of No Light (the kind where this is the answer whenever someone asks, “what record should I check out first by the band), and even though it does not push the style of music in any drastically new directions, the record definitely is one of the better examples of how to make such an album well.
8.0 / 10
Year Of No Light’s emotive instrumental approach is one that embraces the deeper, heavier side of post/sludge/atmospheric music and the cavernous melodies that they dredge up from the darkest pits ...
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