A Storm of Light - And We Wept the Black Ocean Within
Record Label: Neurot Recordings
Release Date: June 10, 2008
Metal can turn off many people, for many reasons. Whether it's the laundry list of sub-genres, the hair, the elitist sense of technicality, or a larger-than-life attitude of who is more "br00tal" than the other.
But the second to last figure in that statement is usually what makes or breaks bands like Neurosis or Mastodon. They're bone-crushing, but at the same time can be brought up in a music appreciation class and analyzed using a number of technical terms, the likes of which many music listeners never heard of, and will, for the most part, never understand -- myself included.
But atmosphere and orchestration plays into a large part of why I'm attracted to bands like Neurosis, Isis, and the direction that Underoath have pushed themselves into.
The opening of A Storm of Light's And We Wept The Black Ocean Within sounded promising, and then the record spoke. Vocalist/guitarist Josh Graham (formerly of Red Sparowes) opens up his bellowing, story-telling mouth, and it just feels forced and, in the nicest way possible, almost laughable.
Vocal narration aside, And We Wept The Black Ocean Within is an hour of progressive orchestration similar to that of Graham's former band. "Vast and Endless" bellows low keys matched to guitar sirens in a disheartening opener (emotionally, not musically), followed by the metal acid trip, "Black Ocean."
"Mass" is in the title. Organs flare up to a black Sunday, where Graham's matching vocals are some of the best on the album, droning like Gregorian Chant, building mountains to rest, and then conquering the next elevated walk.
I'm unsure what the point of the five minute "Descent" is all about, but the ten minute closing "Iron Heart" is what it leads up to, while American Revolutionary style drums begin the battle, and Graham's voice declares the ending of the story. His voice builds first, and then the guitars top it, ending the battle with a low hum a minute before the end of the album.
And We Wept The Black Ocean Within borders on some of the best metal and instrumental rock acts out there. Vocally, there's a lot of miss, but instrumentally there's a lot to grab onto. But the album is not without its filler. It'll be interesting to hear the next story from this new publisher.