Review Summary: Cycles of Light is a great debut, and it showcases the genuine and raw energy of the band. With recent support on the Converge, Trap Them and Burning Love tour, it’s clear to see Everything Went Black have a promising career ahead of them.
Crossover, metalcore, metallic hardcore, all these are subgenres of heavy metal, which combine the various elements of extreme metal and hardcore punk. Now like most genres of music, it’s flooded with mediocre and lackluster drivel, but every once and a while a band comes along and reassures you that everything will be alright, and that the genre hasn’t completely fallen into disarray. And for one such band that hails from St. Louis, and who play a straightforward brand of fast and heavy aggressive music, Everything Went Black not only pay homage to the hardcore/punk sensibilities of the 80′s and 90′s, but are also able to satisfy the metalhead in all of us.
This year is starting off strong in the metallic hardcore department, with the recent Iron Cages demo and the Skin Like Iron/NAILS split completely devastating my aural canals, it was only a matter of time until another band came along to continue the onslaught. Enter; Everything Went Black, a band thats name is not only based off a Black Flag album, but who also share similarities to Black Flag as well as The Hope Conspiracy and Entombed. Since their formation back in 2009, they’ve only released a handful of material, so it became apparent either they would eventually release a full-length album, or fade away into oblivion. Luckily for them as well as the fans, with their recent signing to Lost Shepherd/Prosthetic Records, the band took the summer to record their debut full-length album, Cycles of Light.
You know the old saying, quality over quantity, well it rings true with Cycles of Light. With only nine tracks, and each one never reaching the five and half minute mark, this album doesn’t feel the need to make its mark in long strides. Instead, they crafted an album that dishes out the aggressive nature of hardcore, with the tone/mood of black metal, while even incorporating a bit of groove. However, there are moments throughout the album that take a more melancholic approach, such as the opening of ‘XI’, in which the two guitarists, Chris Moore and Chris Stanton slowly immerse the listener in a wave of distorted chords as they build up in a foreboding manner. Under the ringing of the chords an audio track enters, which is typical of bands to do in scenarios like this, and in many ways it helps in setting the tone of the album.
The build up pays off, as ‘Gods of Atlantis’ kicks in and maintains the slow trudge set up by the previous track, but this time the band shows off their ability to keep things flowing smoothly, while also adding to their already established sound. What I’ve come to enjoy about this band is their ability to have a full and encompassing feel to their songs, but they also know when to quicken the tempo and switch to a faster, more hardcore/punk-like pace. The band also knows when it’s fitting to insert a breakdown and how to execute it well within the confines of a song, which ‘Gods of Atlantis’ showcases perfectly as the song comes to a crushing close.
Between the heavy and groove induced melody of ‘Halo Of Vultures’, to the more faster and devastating sounds on ‘Thorn Feeders’ and ‘Lifeless’, both of which are hardcore rooted, Cycles of Light gives the listener a taste of the different facets the band took with this album, and rather than dishing out the same song over and over again, they balance the tracks throughout to keep you engaged. At the midpoint of the album is where we come to the first highlight of the album, and what I feel is the best song on the entire album, ‘Parades’. The song is drenched in dissonant chords, heavy breaks and some of the strongest vocals from Brandon Hoffman. This track has a major Entombed feel to it, especially the ending, as the instruments slowly play out, and the sinister riffs are soon meet with an orchestra of violins and violas to bring the song to a climatic end.
The only other song to rival ‘Parades’, would be ‘Kingdoms’. This time around the band brings in a more post-rock feel to their sound, which is a nice touch, as we get to see a more mellower side of the band. The instrumentation is vast and enveloping, as it builds up to the songs inevitable punch. And sure enough after about a minute or so, the song bursts into a blistering, punk-rock pace, as the frenzied riffs and impassioned vocals further carry the desolate tone of the album. This grinding assault soon comes to a halt mid-way through, as the band delves back into post-rock territory, this time slowing down the pace and incorporating subtle effects to give the track a somber feel. This continues until the chorus kicks back in and the band just goes all out bringing the song to an emotionally heartfelt close.
There is one thing that bothers me, and I’m not sure if this was the bands intentions, but the production, which isn’t bad by any means, it does come off sounding very low. While it does have that old school cassette-tape appeal to it, I find there are times when I need to turn it up really high just to get any sort of affect of the bands fury. Luckily this isn’t enough to dissuade me from listening to the album, but I just wish the final mix was a bit louder.
Despite my nitpicking, Cycles of Light is a great debut, and it showcases the genuine and raw energy of the band. With recent support on the Converge, Trap Them and Burning Love tour, it’s clear to see Everything Went Black are getting noticed, and further proof they have a long and promising career ahead of them.