Review Summary: An ocean bound debut that portrays the loneliness, horror and despair of being surrounded by infinite water. Feel the nothingness of your soul against the vastness of the sea and drown in oceanic sorrow.
Don't listen to this album if you are in a ship. You will be tempted to just jump into the ocean.
Before forming A Storm of Light, Josh Graham played in bands like Battle of Mice & Red Sparowes. He also created some artwork for Neurosis. This should give you an idea about this band's music. However, this doesn't mean they are just another generic post-metal band. There's enough going on in their debut album And We Wept the Black Ocean Within to give them their own identity and also make this album memorable.
All the songs except the instrumentals here are long and have a dirge-like quality to them. However, some songs incorporate choruses but these choruses are not used in a typical way. You don't have to wait to hear them. They are used at the start of the song and later repeated again. Most songs start with heavy guitar based parts and later go into quieter sections. And then they get heavier again. But unlike many post-rock/metal bands, they are not to keen on ending their songs with crescendos which is very refreshing.
The guitars in this album are very heavy. The riffs are repetitive but also incorporates some melodic leads. The heavy and repetitive riffs create a rather hopeless atmosphere. While they are not very memorable, they provide the album with a bleak heaviness. Unlike a lot of post-metal bands, the guitars don't really speeds up much. Instead of going for swirling melodies, Graham is more interested in crawling doomy riffs.
The bass can actually be heard in this album and they compliment the guitar very well. The bass shines the most during the quieter moments. The melodic basslines provides the album with a sense of melancholy. They are easily one of the best features of this album. Especially, the bass melody toward the end of Mass is the highlight of the album. It's absolutely mournful and conjures images of floating dead bodies in still water. The bass also creeps in underneath the guitars during the heavier parts which gives the album a rather dynamic sound.
There's a lot of use of keyboards in this album. The soft keyboards helps the ocean obsessed lyrics of the album to create a watery atmosphere. Ambiance is also used in this album. But they are used tastefully and aren't overdone like a lot of bands in the genre.
The vocals in this album are some of the best you will hear in this type of music. Despite going for the clichéd muffled screams, Graham uses a much cleaner style in this album. At time he sounds really depressive with his clean tranquil vocals. The starting of Mass is an excellent example of that, Other times, his clean vocals sound a little bit gruffy which gives a less personal and more philosophical feel to the lyrics that portray the vastness of the sea. He also incorporates some real mournful chant-like vocals that goes really well with the dirgey quality of the compositions. There's also some screams which only adds more dynamic to the album.
Almost all the songs here deal with the ocean. And they are not just random words. The ocean is used as a metaphor to focus on self-reflection against the vastness of the sea. Another recurring theme in this album is survivor's guilt. All the lyrics are very introspective.
With their debut album And We Wept the Black Ocean Within, this band from the US has perfectly captured the longing, melancholy and self-reflection a person goes through while being away from the land surrounded by only water. Listening to this album will give you a sinking feeling as if you are losing control of everything slowly and drowning deeper into the void of your own mind. This ocean obsessed debut proved that A Storm of Light is very much capable of becoming one of the bigger names in this style of music. Stay away from this if you are prone to seasickness.