Posts Tagged ‘A Storm of Light’

Christopher Nosnibor

I can’t help but feel a little sorry for Jo Quail: the two occasions I’ve seen her this year as an opening act, she’s been on not only early doors, but within minutes of doors opening. So I’m standing outside, in the rain, hearing the strains of her opening piece and feeling frustrated: the doors, set for 7:30, don’t open until 7:40, but Jo, scheduled for 7:40, starts on time. Still, the fact there’s a substantial queue before doors, and that people have packed to the front immediately on arrival is validation, if validation is needed.

She’s no ordinary cellist, utilizing a vast bank of pedals to conjure pulsing rhythms and a grinding undercurrent which flows fluidly as she builds layer upon layer to form cathedrals of sound – appropriate for a venue which a former church, now restored as a venue, and which boasts some of the most magnificent architecture. Her music is immense and powerful, the experience intense, moving, as the compositions transition between graceful and forceful, and Jo channels the range through her posture, at one with the instrument. The third and final piece, taken from her forthcoming LP opens with thunderous explosions and eerie, haunting shrillness, cultivating a dark, industrial atmosphere. And she certainly knows how to build a sustained crescendo: by the end of her set, I feel like I’ve emerged, battered but triumphant, from a tempest, and the respectable audience show real appreciation for an impressive set.

Jo Quail

Jo Quail

Rewind: while queueing in the rain, some irritatingly superior bozos behind me prate on about this and that. One remarks how the support has a forgettable, generic “adjective, something, something, noun’ name. He checks the event on Facebook on his phone, before trilling ‘A Storm of Light…. Yeah, adjective, something noun…” I turn and point out that ‘storm’ is also a noun, and that the new album’s really good. The smug cret thanks me dismissively and returns to babbling about cake at work and the like. I turn back to wait in silence, alone, and I’m fine with it, not least of all because A Storm of Light more than compensate the cold, damp discomfort of the queue.

With relentless, ever-shifting streams from CCTV intercut with cascading pills and the like projected behind the stage, ASOL play in near darkness and they play hard. Cranking out gritty industrial-tinged, grunge-hued post-punk with a dark, metallic sheen seems most incongruous in the setting, particularly given the nihilistic sociopolitical leanings of the lyrics. But we’re on deconsecrated, renovated ground here, and as much as I’m struck by the contextual juxtaposition, I’m struck by the clarity of the sound, particularly the drums, which cut through and pack a serious punch.

lA Storm of Light

A Storm of Light

Veering between claustrophobically taut frameworks and more organic, Neurosis-like expanses, the band create a sonic space that’s very much their own. And throughout the set, the basis lunges, hard, building in intensity as the set progresses: near the end, his instrument is pretty much scraping the floor, and he steps in front of the monitors to deliver some of the most savagely attacking bass playing you’re likely to witness. Not so much a strong performance as an act of total devastation.

Mono are considerably less abrasive, and I some ways, feel like a little bit of a step down. They sit down to play, for a start. It makes for a mellow atmosphere, but renders them invisible to anyone not in the first few rows, for a start.

Mono

Mono

Unable to get decent sight of the band, I make my way to the back, where the sound is magnificent. I can’t see anything other than smoke and strobes, but it’s ok: Mono aren’t a band to watch, even with the addition of vocals to their arsenal: they’re a band to get lot in. and that, I do. I find myself slowly drifting in the enormity of the experience: the sound, the atmosphere, the space, all contrive to create an immersive experience.

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Consouling Sounds – 5th October 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been five years since A Storm of Light graced us with Nation To Flames, released via Southern Lord. Anthroscene has a very different mood, and isn’t exactly a Southern Lord type of album. It’s still very much a metal album at heart, and still has the sharp, snarling throb of latter-day Ministry at its molten core – but on this outing, they’ve opened things up a way – without losing any of the fire.

Josh Graham’s take on the album is that “Anthroscene ignores genre and freely combines a lot of our early influences. Christian Death, The Cure, Discharge, Lard, Fugazi, Big Black, Ministry, Pailhead, Melvins, Pink Floyd, Killing Joke, NIN, Tool, etc. Where Nations to Flames was a very a focused sonic assault, this record has more time to breathe, yet still keeps the intensity intact. We allowed the songs to venture into new territory and push our personal boundaries. It’s heavy and intense, but always focuses on interwoven melodies, song structure and dynamic.”

It’s a slow build by way of a start: the six-minute-trudger that is ‘Prime Time’ is constructed around a stocky riff, choppy, chunky. The guitar overdriven and compressed, chops out a sound reminiscent of post-millennial Killing Joke. The vocals are more metal, and then it breaks into a descending powerchord sequence that’s more grunge. The overall feel, then, is very much late 90s and into the first decade of the noughties, and lyrically, we’re very much in the socio-political terrain of Killing Joke. Indeed, the shift in focus is as much about the album’s heart as its soul, as ASOL turn to face the world in all its madness and corruption and pick through the pieces of this fucked-up, impossible mess. It’s practically impossible not to be angry; it’s practically impossible not to feel angry, defeated.

‘Blackout’ grinds in with some big chuggage, and ‘Life Will be Violent’ is remarkably expansive as it howls through a barrage of percussion that blasts like heavy artillery for eight and a half minutes. There are no short songs here: Anthroscene is the post-millennial cousin of Killing Joke’s Pandemonium. Only, whereas Pandemonium was pitched as prophetic and prescient, Anthroscene is clawing its way through the wreckage that is the future now present. Yes, the damage is done, and we’re standing, looking into the rubble as the dust drifts across a barren wasteland. But we’re too busy on social media and with faces buried in smartphones and tablets to even contemplate what we’ve done, and our children, heading inexorably toward an existence bereft of meaning as they too bury their faces in smartphones and tablets and Netflix on the 50” flatscreen, have no idea.

But this is no by-numbers template-based regurgitation: Anthroscene is sincere, and original. The squalling guitars of ‘Short Term Feedback’ sizzle and squirm over a barrage of drums and throat-ripping vocals as A Storm of Light revisit industrial metal territory, tugging at Ministry and early Pitch Shifter by way of touchstones. Elsewhere, the lugubrious ‘Slow Motion Apocalypse’ fulfils the promise of the title, but perhaps with more emotional resonance than you might expect.

Anthroscene is harsh, but evokes steely industrial greyness in its dense, claustrophobic atmosphere. A challenging album for challenging times.

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Since the release of her previous album Five Incantations in 2016, internationally acclaimed composer and virtuoso cellist Jo Quail has been touring extensively across Europe performing alongside the likes of Boris, Amenra, Caspian, Myrkur and Winterfylleth. Festival performances this year include ArcTanGent, WGT, Dunk! and Tramlines Festival, and two separate concerts at the invitation of Robert Smith for his curation of the Southbank’s Meltdown Festival.

Jo’s new album Exsolve, recorded with Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studios (Electric Wizard, Primordial, Witchsorrow, Conan), will be released on 2nd November. Watch the trailer with an excerpt of the track ‘Mandrel Cantus’ here:

European tour w/ Mono & A Storm of Light

01 Oct: Bristol, UK, The Fleece

02 Oct: Norwich, UK, Arts Centre

03 Oct: Glasgow, UK, Classic Grand

04 Oct: Newcastle, UK, The Cluny

05 Oct: Leeds, UK, Left Bank

06 Oct: Ghent, BE, De Central

07 Oct: Utrecht, NL, Tivoli De Helling

08 Oct: Bremen, DE, Tower

09 Oct: Dresden, DE, Beatpol

10 Oct: Wiesbaden, DE, Schlachtof

11 Oct: Aarau, CH, Kiff

12 Oct: Lyon, FR, CCO

13 Oct: Barcelona, ES, Aloud Music Festival

14 Oct: Toulouse, FR, Le Rex

15 Oct: Bordeaux, FR, Krakatoa

16 Oct: Orleans, FR, Astrolabe

17 Oct: Heerlen, NL, Nieuwe Nor

18 Oct: Oberhausen, DE, Drucklufthaus

19 Oct: Leeuwarden, NL, Into The Void

20 Oct: Athens, GR, Fuzz Club

22 Oct: St. Petersburg, RU, Zal

23 Oct: Moscow, RU, Zil

European tour w/ Myrkur

03 Dec: SE Stockholm, Vasateatern04/12 – NO Oslo, John Dee

05 Dec: SE Gothenburg, Pustervik

07 Dec: DK Aarhus, Voxhall

08 Dec: DK Copenhagen, Pumpehuset

10 Dec: PL Poznan, U Bazyla

11 Dec: PL Krakow, Kwadrat

13 Dec: HU Budapest, Durer Kert

14 Dec: AT Vienna, Arena

16 Dec: NL Tilburg, 013 KZ

18 Dec UK London, The Dome

19 Dec: UK Bristol, The Fleece

20 Dec: UK Nottingham, Rescue Rooms

21 Dec UK Glasgow, The Great Eastern

22 Dec: – UK Manchester, Gorilla

Jo Quail

A Storm of Light return with a new record. Five years after their last studio album (Nation To Flames, Southern Lord), Josh Graham and his companions Chris Common, Dan Hawkins and Domenic Seita have completed their fifth full length Anthroscene, to be released via Consouling Sounds (EU and UK), Translation Loss (US) and Daymare (JP) on 5th October.

Josh Graham explains the different mood on this record: "Anthroscene ignores genre and freely combines a lot our our early influences. Christian Death, The Cure, Discharge, Lard, Fugazi, Big Black, Ministry, Pailhead, Melvins, Pink Floyd, Killing Joke, NIN, Tool, etc.  Where Nations to Flames was a very a focused sonic assault, this record has more time to breathe, yet still keeps the intensity intact. We allowed the songs to venture into new territory and push our personal boundaries. It’s heavy and intense, but always focuses on interwoven melodies, song structure and dynamic. Bringing Dan Hawkins (old friend and high school bandmate) on second guitar and keyboards, has further expanded the album’s palette".

Lyrically the songs are an honest, brutal and emotional response to what is happening all around us: the disaster of American politics, racism, greed, climate change, climate change denial, nationalism, war, refugees, and how technology is actively changing us as human beings. 

Josh continues… “The current events happening across the planet right now are very overwhelming. It’s difficult not to feel very hopeless at times. This record is a big cathartic release….not offering much in the way of fixes, but serving more as a surreal document of our current times.“

Ahead of the album, they’ve served up ‘Slow Motion Apocalypse’  as a taster. Get your lugs round it here: