From what I understand, post-metal is a genre that can either lull you into a sense of security or gut you so hard that you wonder who hurt the people who make music in that genre. My experience with post-metal has been very minimal, and that can be attributed to two bands on opposite sides of the spectrum: Cult of Luna and Kontinuum. However, after watching Roadburn Redux this year, I found myself wondering if my musical education needed to be expanded upon once again; after all, the more I continued watching several sets throughout those two or so days, the more astounded and enamored I became of how bands seemed to push past the limits of their own creativity in order to play their sets. It was during this flurry of events that I went through the majority of the Pelagic Presents roster showcase, and I met a band that pulled the rug under me and let me believe that, perhaps, there may be something avant-garde about post-metal after all. Get ready to ascend and pass into eternity, because that is what Year of No Light wants to do on their newest album, Consolamentum.
For the uninitiated, a consolamentum was a Catharism process in which a person who wanted to ascend to heaven was “consoled,” as they believed that living lead to “regret” and they needed to be consoled in order to be absolved while simultaneously gaining spiritual regeneration, the power to preach, and elevation to a higher plane. Once the person was consoled, the person became a Cathar Perfect and was expected to dedicate their lives to being missionaries. Considered to be heretics by the Catholics, Catharism was eventually eradicated by 1350 due to the Medieval Inquisition. For a term that has been rendered “meaningless” by current Catholic religious doctrine – given that most of the information we know about the Cathars comes from Catholicism – Year of No Light brings meaning back to this word by essentially presenting the listener with something that can be akin to finding their salvation, in a rather sinister way.
Consolamentum is heavy – there is so much tension and weight in their music that it can feel oppressive, especially when sludge influences start to really dig into your skin. There is something about the music that slowly creeps into you, sinking you deeper and deeper into a miasma of uneasiness and dread. Granted, it does not help that the atmosphere is thick, created by what sounds like dissonant drums and a cacophonic guitar that truly makes your head spin. Year of No Light truly wanted the listener to feel like they have reached their sense of salvation, and it’s clear that the path towards salvation is uneasy, filled with hellish soundscapes, and a myriad of other noises that just makes even the most hardened listener’s heart sink to their stomach. While I have had visceral reactions to albums of this nature – for example, Emptiness’s Vide comes to mind – Consolamentum is an album that made me want to pull away, but it kept me listening for as long as it was able to do so. I was curious enough to follow its sonic breadcrumbs, especially as the music sways and swells in a manner that may seem formulaic, but it isn’t. The music changes constantly, and you have to be on your guard when it does, because its mood and atmosphere changes along with it. This is clearly not your parent’s post-metal.
All in all, Consolamentum is an album filled to the brim with religious symbolism, thick, atmospheric leanings, and a myriad of influences that expands the post-metal label. While this album could have provided one sinister track, this album provides five of them, each with their own character and nuance. It is clear that Year of No Light took their time when creating this album and it shows – their eight-year hiatus was worth the quality of this album. I am deeply enamored by this record, and no words I say will do this album justice.
Addendum: I think we have reached the trifecta of weird for Nine Circles with Emptiness’s Vide, Amenra’s De Doorn, and this album.
Hasta la proxima!