Light Bearer – Silver Tongue

Silver Tongue cover art

Artist Light Bearer
Album ‘Silver Tongue’
Genre Post-Metal
Buy/DL bandcamp
Web Facebook
Label Halo of Flies/Alerta Antifascista/Moment of Collapse
Release Feb 8 2013
Rating Must Listen

For those who haven’t heard, or heard of, Light Bearer before, the London based sextet may prove difficult to pin a genre name on. Post-rock? Yep. Progressive metal? Yep. Drone? Yep. Post-hardcore? Yep. I think you get the point. The entirety of the band’s output is based around a story written by their vocalist, Alex CF (previously of Fall of Efrafa, currently also handling vocal duties for Momentum and Eleleth), which was influenced by Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the Book of Genesis, amongst others. Hardly a stranger to singing/writing for a band with a literary focus (Fall of Efrafa’s discography was based around ideologies from Watership Down), Alex turns his focus here to the casting out of Lucifer from heaven, the story of Adam and Eve (Eve, of course, being representative of free will), the establishment of the church, and finally the war against God. Where ‘Lapsus‘ told the tale of Lucifer’s casting out from heaven after refusing to bow to humanity, ‘Silver Tongue‘ picks up with Lucifer rising from the void, atop the tower of Dis, to spread the message of truth and free will. Acting as the light bearer, he passes the metaphorical truth to Eve, herself an ancestor of humanity. The lyrics and storytelling here are absolutely top notch, and to me are a major part of what sets Light Bearer apart from other bands treading similar waters musically.

It’s rather difficult to fully describe an album with this much depth and intelligence, especially without relying on all of the cliches that could be so easily applied – epic, beautiful, haunting, crushing, etc. This album is all of that, and then some. The album opener, “Beautiful Is This Burden“, rolls along peacefully for the first 5 minutes or so as a string and horn laden intro, before the guitar, drums, and vocals kick in, bringing an extra depth and beauty. There are so many layers and sounds here, that now, upon my 6th or 7th listen, I’m still discovering little things in the background. Lee, the member responsible for the soundscapes, has really done a phenomenal job on this album, and it becomes immediately apparent here (especially if you listen through a quality pair of headphones).

The journey continues with “Amalgam“, a much darker and heavier track than it’s predecessor. Here is where some of Light Bearer‘s sludgier elements really shine, the hammering guitar riffs crashing headfirst into some of the more melodic picking. The darkness carries through to “Matriarch“, with it’s mournful cello arrangement, and the whispered echoes of the clean vocals. It’s a darkly beautiful moment, and fits the theme of the record (especially this song) very well. The song ascends as it tells the story of the first Eve, as she begins to fathom free will, and gain an understanding of the world around her. “Clarus” follows up with an almost hymnal, choir-like quality, and acts as something of an interlude. The shortest song on the album, it consists entirely of swirling background sounds and haunting clean vocals (see, there’s one of those cliches).

The mythology of Eve accepting the forbidden fruit is told in “Aggressor and Usurper“, and the confrontational tone of the song meshes nicely with the story, and the building hostility between God and Lucifer. This track, lyrically, also see Light Bearer working in an aggressive anti-sexist stance, one which truthfully is carried through the hole album, it just becomes much more evident here. A three minute piano interlude in the song leads to one of the most explosive moments on the album, as the hostility comes to a head and the Authority begins to show his anger.

Oddly, the intro to the final track, “Silver Tongue“, sounds nearly like a radio friendly song of sorts, with its gentle, melodic strumming, and background tambourine. This carries through for about 2 minutes, before the full strength of the song comes rushing forward. Quite possibly my favorite track on the album, this nearly 20 minute opus wraps up the album very nicely. It’s sometimes difficult to fathom the idea of something heavy being ambient and beautiful as well, but this song is just that.

‘Silver Tongue’, as an album, is not something that is easily digested (nor are any other Light Bearer recordings, really). To me, that makes the mark of a truly great album. It’s not something that’s just going to be blurred background music – it demands your attention, and rewards you greatly for focusing on it. I know it seems especially odd to be focusing so much on the lyrical content of an album on a post-* blog, but as I said, the story is really a very vital part of what makes Light Bearer such a powerful band. That’s not to say that the music is a secondary force by any means, but especially in the flood of fantastic post-metal releases we’ve seen over the past few months, the ability to tell a cohesive, flowing story with great effect absolutely sets Light Bearer apart from their peers. Conveniently, all lyrics (and explanations) are available on the band’s website.

For any fans of atmospheric post-metal, this is an absolute must listen. It’s pay what you wish on their bandcamp page (with physical releases on vinyl, CD, cassette, and a “special edition” to follow), so what have you got to lose? – Shanexedge