Review Summary: Light Bearer create one of the more impressive concept albums in recent memory, fueled by a thought-provoking story and dynamic songwriting.11 of 12 thought this review was well written
A great underground cavern, seen for the first time in centuries. Beams of light from the crumbling ceiling illuminate walls carved with depictions of ancient battles between gods; colossal statues of angels and demons lie broken next to the crypts they were built to stand guard over for eternity. The fallen angel from “Sad Wings of Destiny” wallows in a river of magma; the last diary of Aaron Turner sits disintegrating on a marble altar. It’s this sort of somberly majestic scene that “Lapsus” conjures in one’s mind.
Light Bearer is a band that takes post-metal to extremes: half of the songs on “Lapsus” exceed fourteen minutes in length, complete with an intro, outro, and several movements along the way. The vocals are roars scattered throughout these massive pieces of songwriting; the guitars burn slowly above crashing drums like a storm pounding waves against a rocky coast. Effervescent strings waft in and out of the metamorphic layers of sound, gentle rays of hope among the chaos. This is music on an enormous scale; primal in its aggression but decidedly human in its calculated, inexorable march towards a raging climax. Such grand sonic scope is rather fitting, since the subject matter of “Lapsus” is derived from both Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and Dante’s “Inferno”. The album tells the story of Lucifer (the eponymous Light Bearer) and his fall from heaven, portraying him not as the evil biblical entity, but as a tragic figure, an angel deceived, betrayed, and cast out. “I will not blithely wilt / in the light of your glory / I will not blindly walk / and glimpse the void,” he cries in the titular song.
Light Bearer’s vocalist, ‘Alex CF’, crafts a terrific story through lyrics and literary tie-ins. According to the band’s biography, the narrative is “based around a story written by [Alex], who drew influence from the writings of Philip Pullman’s ‘His dark materials’ trilogy, John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, and the Book of Genesis, [in creating] an allegorical tale in which to forward atheist/anti-theist and free thought ideologies.” A bit wordy, but the point is made that this is both music and a philosophical statement.
The music itself varies greatly. There are two guitars that at times play separately to create delicate counterpoint melodies, and other times fuse together to form massive riffs. The drumming is often sparse, yet each new rhythm is perfectly timed and phrased to compliment the rest of the instruments. In “Armoury Choir”, they take center stage for the middle section, thunderously driving the song onward between dense guitar-laden crescendos. The bass comes in as a rumbling foundation in the heavier parts, while ethereal keyboards, strings, and piano drift in and out of the arrangement to give each successive piece unique character.
“Lapsus” is the first in a four-part narrative that chronicles Lucifer’s fall from heaven and subsequent rise against God. For now, we’ll stick to the first installment, which comes in four main parts: “Primum Movens”, “Armoury Choir”, “Prelapsus”, and “Lapsus”. There are also two story pieces, “Beyond the Infinite” (elaborated upon in an EP), and “The Metatron”. The main pieces peak and trough along with the storyline, and in typical post-metal style, have few discernible refrains. Thematic elements are often present, such as the descending quarter-note riff in “Armory Choir”, which appears three times throughout the song. “Prelapsus” conjures a similar guitar line, but twists it over the course of five minutes as the song builds to a pounding climax. Tom, the bassist, then enters with the album's first clean vocals (aside from the interludes), before being joined by layered harsh vocals in chorusing the record’s most powerfully delivered lines, “We are the sons of fire / we are the daughters of light.”
This is an album that shows an incredible amount of foresight and planning. Each song is carefully constructed to build upon its predecessor and lead into the next piece. By the time the titular song arrives, the listener is perched on a sonic precipice, prepared to dive into the story’s conclusion as the first echoes and soundscapes fade in. The song invokes creepy atmospheric noises and staccato guitar as it slowly builds. There are four sections to the piece, rising to crushing finale. As the vocals fade, the string section returns, this time with piano, for a reprise of the main theme, completing the album with haunting beauty. Light Bearer took on an amazingly intricate and complex project, and somehow pulled it off. It is, however, a demanding listen; this is not for the faint of heart. This is not for those who expect immediate dividends. “Lapsus” goes beyond entertainment, forcing its audience to consider their views on religion and morality as it enraptures with monumental music and storytelling. Brace yourself for an epic journey, for Lapsus is a powerful opening statement by Light Bearer, as they stake their claim among the best acts in post-metal.