Review Summary: Therapy? in space: a futuristic take on their heavy rock style.
More than two decades into their career, Northern Ireland-based Therapy? show absolutely no signs of stopping. Rather than following the footsteps of other outfits that share the same amount of time on stage and thus rehashing the same formula all over again, Therapy? have never seemed to be into the idea of comfort zone in the first place constantly releasing albums that have pushed the boundaries of their heavy rock style. Their thirteenth full length disc, A Brief Crack Of Light
, couldn't be more in line with the group's policy to surprise their fans with a plethora of brand-new influences. In fact, the album ranks high among the band's most experimental releases continuing the path they took three years ago with critically acclaimed Crooked Timber
Despite the reliance on clattering rhythms and grooves, A Brief Crack Of Light
doesn't really resemble its predecessor very much. Its title, which stems from late Vladimir Nabokov's quote that describes our existence as “a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness”, signals the overpowering bleak tone which manifests itself equally in apocalyptic lyrics and futuristically tinged music. As for the former, Andy Cairns has a knack for crafting comprehensible lyrics out of heavy philosophical concepts. His existential work ranges from contemplative (“Ghost Trio”) to rebellious (“Plague Bell”) or even darkly humorous (“Why Turbulence?”). As far as the shift in music style is concerned, massive guitar riffs frequently give way to shrewdly crafted, hypnotic soundscapes, which results in the permeating sense of space on the entire disc. The trio accompanies this dub-inclined sound with their trademark ultra-fast, heavy-on-snare drum beats, pummelling bass lines and dissonance-ridden guitar work.
Even though its apocalyptic tone seems to be omnipresent, A Brief Crack Of Light
is still an admirably diverse collection of songs. Representing the classic Therapy? style, “Living in the Shadow of the Terrible Thing”, “Before You, With You, After You” and “Why Turbulence?” boast memorable riffs, groovy rhythms and infectious melodies. However, the album takes plenty of unexpected turns which nearly always make for truly arresting songs. A spastic guitar work of “Plague Bell” smoothly builds to a sludge metal onslaught coupled with jazz-infused discordant stabs. “The Buzzing” makes great use of monolithic, oozing riffs and chaotic progressions only to create the sinister atmosphere of decay. Elsewhere, “Get Your Dead Hand Off My Shoulder” relies on warm, resonant dub as well as hypnotic vocal delivery to a truly paranoid effect, while dazzling drone of “Ghost Trio” shows that there are no stylistic limitations for Therapy? whatsoever.
On the minus side, the multitude of influences makes the album fairly disjointed. The upbeat post-rock of instrumental “Marlow” would certainly be an excellent B-side, yet it feels entirely redundant on the record that abounds with bleak themes. Whether it flows well or not, A Brief Crack Of Light
is a greatly daring release that finds Therapy? redefining themselves once again and challenging their fans in the process. This is an unhinged ride through plenty of supposedly unrelated genres that proves to be immensely rewarding in the long run.