Review Summary: “And Light Bearer finally said, Let there be Silver Tongue. And we listened to Silver Tongue, and it was good."
Post-metal is an inherently self-indulgent genre, where bands posture about ideals and enrapture your world with apocalyptic soundscapes, but sometimes that's what makes it awesome. In the tradition of legendary outfits Neurosis and Godspeed You! Black Emperor (who aren't metal but have an immeasurable impact on all things post
), Light Bearer continue to up the ante on multi-dimensional album-crafting. The story behind Lapsus
and Silver Tongue
is as important as the thunderous audial creations themselves, and is required reading for fans seeking the full experience intended by the band.
told of Lucifer’s rise against the false God, the malicious tyrant. In this sequel, Lucifer rises from Hell upon the tower of Dis and cries his message of oppressed truth, a shard of hope that pierces the Authority’s lies and plants a seed of doubt in the heart of the first human. This doubt is the key to man’s ability to question his origins and God’s will, to pursue that seed of truth in a quest for self-realization and free will. This tiny victory, seemingly insignificant in the cosmic war of good and evil, parallels our own struggle for meaning in an abstract and arbitrary world. Yes, it’s an incredibly pretentious concept, but it’s a story that compels you to think, to question, and to return time and time again.
Light Bearer’s sound is at once incredibly dense and deceptively simple. Imagine Isis at their sparsest and heaviest with the acoustic flourishes and heartrending string arrangements of Fluxion
-era The Ocean. The band went though a fair amount of upheaval between their first two albums, recruiting a new drummer and bassist, but the core remains, driven by singer and story author Alex CF. As with Lapsus
, the song structures sprawl across peaks and valleys, often upwards of ten or fifteen minutes in length. Guitarists Matthew and Jamie form the foundation of each song, working across a full spectrum of intensity through the album. In “Matriarch”, the two weave together emotive, delay-drenched guitar solos like something off “Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part 3,” backed by ominous string arrangements and pounding tom-toms. In stark contrast, “Aggressor and Usurper” blasts out of the gate with crushing “So Did We”-style guitar harmonies and double-time crash cymbals, Alex’s harsh shouts cutting through the churning rhythm like a navigation bell near rocky shoals. After several minutes, a requiem of piano chords and melancholy cello takes over, lulling you gently away for a few minutes before a wall of guitar and manic, off-kilter drumming snap you back to reality.
The songs on Silver Tongue
are less defined than on Lapsus
, often totally irreverent of structure as they adhere closely the overarching story. With its gorgeous intro and constantly evolving dynamics, opener “Beautiful Is This Burden” could be an EP unto itself a la “Celestium Apocrypha” (a twenty-minute behemoth from last year’s Northless split). On the other hand, such through-composition can make for a really, really long listen. As things slow down towards the middle of the album, the dirge-like chords of “Amalgam” and “Matriarch” give reason to wonder if Light Bearer couldn’t have axed some of the more mundane moments here. While the increased prominence of actual singing is a nice touch, most of the vocals are still Alex’s harsh roars, which, despite his consistently excellent tone and phrasing, are disappointingly unintelligible. Those great concepts and poetic lyrics aren’t much good without a lyrics sheet.
After a number of delays due to lineup changes and a hiatus, Silver Tongue
is finally, mercifully, here. Expectations for such an album are hard to pin down, but Light Bearer have done an excellent job creating a piece of work that retains the spirit of its predecessor but moves forward stylistically. Increased emphasis on clean vocals and blending orchestral arrangements with heavy climaxes help unify this very long-winded work (Silver Tongue
is, in fact, longer than Tool’s Lateralus
). If you weren’t impressed by Lapsus
, you probably won’t gaze in awe at this frightening and wondrous new beast either. If, however, you’ve had the fortune of being swept away by Light Bearer’s previous monolithic songwriting and storytelling forays, then this will be a blissful return to a paradise lost.