Review Summary: Where Is Your God Now?
When Chris Schafer cries ”Where Is Your God Now? He Isn’t Here…”
on “Psiu! Puxa!,” the atmosphere of Lights Out Asia’s third album Eyes Like Brontide
is fully realized. The sheer beauty, anger, doubt, and ultimate isolation delivered in that twenty second climax embodies the spirit of the entire record in such a way that it practically defines Eyes Like Brontide
. Drenched in white-knuckled trepidation, it emotionally delivers both as a culmination of the tension and as a product of the hypnotizing melodies, chilling the listener’s spine and announcing the force behind Eyes Like Brontide
with a deafening resonance.
Gay as that sounds, it’s absolutely true.
Very much in the spirit of Mogwai (but with more beats and less monotony), Lights Out Asia doesn’t so much present their record as they do immerse their audience in it. From the wary opening tiptoes of “A Day Towards Other Days,” Lights Out Asia mesmerizes to the point of total submersion, as they envelop the listener in a cold, desolate atmosphere that, despite its obviously foreboding nature, is completely arresting. Eyes Like Brontide
puts itself firmly in the throes of the Cold War (the obvious examples of that being song titles like “The Wrong Message Could End You” and “Radars Over the Ghosts of Chernobyl”) and somehow makes the concept completely engaging. By subtly playing to the paranoia and fear of the age, Lights Out Asia creates tension, which is where Eyes Like Brontide
thrives. On “MIR,” Lights Out Asia engrosses by inserting mumbling space transmissions over intertwining guitar lines and an echoing drum groove. As the song drifts away, it never delivers a soaring apex, instead hauntingly dying out with a deceptive cadence that leaves the ear begging for conclusion, yet one never comes. It doesn’t seem right, but the unresolved hangover of the piece serves as a perfect example of Eyes Like Brontide
’s strength. It uses expectation of something wonderful or terrible or both to make its character absolutely gripping.
Lights Out Asia’s reserved take on the genre aligns itself more with the slowly blossoming styles of relaxed post rock a la port-royal rather than bone crushing, overtly epic post rock, and the adherence to the former makes Eyes Like Brontide
as emotionally powerful as records in the style of the latter. In line with the uneasy vibe, Lights Out Asia rarely exert themselves past mezzo forte, making the spare moments where they crank the volume even the tiniest bit all the more chilling. “Six Points of Fire” closes the album with clipping drum pounding and inevitably climactic guitar smashing, but even as the loudest song on the album, “Six Points of Fire” doesn’t bust too many guts, which isn’t a bad thing. The album’s reserved/tense nature isn’t conducive to a symphonic crest or anything like that. The closest moments to epic
Lights Out Asia have usually center around Chris Schafer’s extremely capable but criminally underutilized voice. The aforementioned “Psiu! Puxa!” serves as the greatest example of this, but basically any appearance Schafer makes is a strong one. For example, at a short two minutes, “If I Die, I Wish You a Horrible Death” could have been filler, but Schafer’s performance makes the track as solid as any one of Eyes Like Brontide
’s eight. With that attention to detail, Lights Out Asia never lets quality drop on Eyes Like Brontide
, and they ensure every track of the record can stand on its own merit.
It’s that kind of consistency that proves Eyes Like Brontide
’s greatest asset. X-Factors like the buckets of samples and Schafer’s voice drive the album to fantastic status, but Lights Out Asia never allows the integrity of their album to suffer. Every track is immaculately crafted, and every new theme introduced is as entrancing as the one preceding it. Early in the album, the eerie string introduction to “Radars Over the Ghosts of Chernobyl” is moving in its own right, but its power is sustained through nine minutes with a synthetic chorus, swirling guitar phrases, and eventually a powerful vocal theme. No moment in the one tempo, nine minute track is dull, and that’s saying something. In many ways, the song parallels the record; On Eyes Like Brontide
, Lights Out Asia hit a high and sustain it for a spellbinding fifty minutes, never once growing tedious in its isolation and despair. That alone makes Eyes Like Brontide
worth listening to. It’s everything else that makes it worth listening to again and again.