Make way, step aside for another irresistible contender for the album of the year accolade. Nations To Flames is a monster of a release, an encounter which builds further on the already acclaimed and immense craft and presence of A Storm Of Light which was cemented by previous impressive beast As The Valley Of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade. Whereas the earlier album and its predecessors embraced doom and post metal invention, with a sound ever evolving over the releases, the new eleven track captivation expands its horizons and adventure into greater variation and voracious enterprise, though those earlier shadows are not left alone in any shape or form. There is a sharper intensity and tighter precise intent to the tracks which according to founding guitarist/vocalist Josh Graham, “These songs are much more focused. Even the more ‘epic’ songs are shorter but still accomplish the same journey as the longer songs used to. We’ve ditched the rock elements of the last record and let our early influences of Killing Joke, Bad Brains, Metallica, and Crash Worship seep in. We are bringing back the intensity of Black Ocean [And We Wept the Black Ocean Within2011] but with the speed and precision ore akin to our metal influences.” The evidence is in the stunning success and confrontation of the tracks making up the staggering release.
Consisting of Graham (Blood & Time, the former visual artist for Neurosis, ex-Battle of Mice, ex-Red Sparowes, ex-The (Fallen) Black Deer), bassist Domenic Seita, and drummer Billy Graves, A Storm Of Light release the album on the back of feverishly received live performances alongside the likes of Converge, Sleep, Corrosion Of Conformity, Torche, and Valient Thor over the past year or so and of course the garnered acclaim and reputation given new potency by the previous full-length release. Released via Southern Lord, Nations to Flames which was recorded with Travis Kammeyer (Fahrenheit Studios is an immediate assassin to expectations and the instigator of major blazes of instinctive satisfaction. Also featuring guest performances on certain songs from Soundgraden’s Kim Thayil and Indian/Nachtmystium’s Will Lindsay, the album makes an exhilarating introduction to itself and never takes its foot off of the adrenaline exploiting peddle until its last blistering sonic note.
Themed by human failure, involving governments, religion, society down to the interpretation of the singular man, Nations to Flames emerges from the battlefield framed by muscular imposing beats and strikes of sinew cast guitar. Soon an intensive gnaw of riffs rubs the scene, their attack restrained but intimidating and skirted by the equally firm and predatory rhythms. With a vocal squall smothering the light the song unveils a metal spawned torrent of rapacious riffery and crippling dramatic beats which makes suggestions of those earlier mentioned inspirations. One comparison soon makes a loud call and that is of Killing Joke, especially as the vocals of Graham offer a Jaz Coleman breath and intensity. Across the whole of the album it is impossible to get away from comparisons to the UK band but it only adds to the towering weight and persuasion of the album, a temptation which is distinct and unique to A Storm Of Light despite the strong influence.
The impressive start is stretched up further notches of impressiveness by the following Apostles Of Hatred, its danger and predacious energy an immediate stalking of the senses and emotions provoked by the thrilling rhythmic enslaving and riff pestilence which seduces every primal need. Sculpting its individual design and fearsome narrative within the imagination as sirens alert of danger from within the storm, the threat posing as a song is an unstoppable fire of guitar carving and invention skirted rigorously by the deliciously cantankerous throat of the bass sound and the ever merciless and creative drum assault. Again the Killing Joke feel is potent, taking thoughts back to their self-titled and What’s THIS For…! albums, but it is a flavour which only brings the full heart and taste of the song out to exchange with the brewing rapture.
The slower stalking The Fire Sermon, its lumbering weight and intensive stroking of the senses a doom fuelled grooved adventure which toys and prowls thoughts, the outstanding synapse scorching Omen, and the dark ravaging provided by Dead Flags only instils greater hunger for release and sound, the latter two tracks of the trio especially effective in casting a diversity which leaves the album upon new plateaus of masterful brilliance. The last of the three reels in the passions with a mesmeric rhythmic dance from Graves which never relinquishes its lure and grip despite the sprawling thick doom maelstrom stretching the song’s bait, it is a predator with an inescapable trap.
All the Shining Lies steals its piece of the passions with just as much ease, its Prong like caustic sinister arm around the shoulder bred of a latent but provocative ferocity whilst both Disintegrate and Lifeless create unique webs with Gravity Kills and Fear Factory like lures respectively which simply enthral. Their powerful calls are soon left in the shade of the excellent You Are The Hunted, a track which merges anthemic badgering and corrosive malevolence into a doom/industrial metal like carnivorous pursuit which reflects its title.
Completed by the exploratory and intensive evocative journey of The Year Is One, an apocalyptic climax which lingers long after its sounds, Nations To Flames is a cunning ingenious leviathan of a confrontation which works on every level. A Storm Of Light has made a mighty grab for that best of title and you would not bet against them taking it.
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