What is it that you truly seek in heavy music? If it's a straightforward headbanging path of least resistance, then Light Bearer’s latest album, Silver Tongue, is not for you. It is neither expeditious nor immediate, and it’s all the better for its complexity. Like many profound works of art, it's serpentine in its sagacity, weaving labyrinthine trails of philosophical and metaphysical radicalism—leading, one hopes, to true enlightenment.
Formed in London in 2010, Light Bearer is a means for vocalist Alex to pursue his Æsahættr Tetralogy narrative in musical from. His allegorical tale--which draws influence from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, the book of Genesis, and John Milton's Paradise Lost—emphasizes "atheist/anti theist and radical left wing/free thought ideologies". It seeks to highlight, and thereby dismantle, doctrines that "should have been abandoned before the dark ages". Lofty goals indeed, and you can't fault Light Bearer’s dedication to the mammoth task at hand.
The bulk of Alex's tale will be unfurled over the course of four full-lengths. The band's 2011 debut, Lapsus, covered chapter one, with offshoot themes explored on the subsequent Beyond the Infinite; The Assembly of God EP, and the Celestium Apocrypha: Book of Watchers split with Northless. Silver Tongue continues chapter two of the story.
The band plays an aptly Herculean and theatrical mix of post-hardcore and ambient and progressive metal, and multi-layered musical edifices rise and descend as Alex's story unfolds. That movement is obviously familiar—Isis or Ufomammut rattle and rumble with the same momentum—but Light Bearer does not mechanically follow any previous maneuvers. Counterpointing the hymnal and the hostile is obviously de rigueur for a post-hardcore aesthetic, but Light Bearer's motivations are tied to evolutionary ideas. Thus, its sound is not limited by what is 'allowed'.
Silver Tongue offers plenty of sonic depth, with fluctuating time changes and oscillating excursions bound to the raw, gut-felt passion of the material. The hum and thrum of strings and/or keyboards, on "Matriarch", "Silver Tongue" and "Beautiful is This Burden", encourage you to search for meaning in their mournful swells. Meanwhile, the feverish blasts of hardcore and ice-cold sludge on "Amalgam" and "Aggressor & Usurper" display all the vexation and wrath. Each individual track explores avenues both serene and severe, but all come together to form an over-arching movement. Collectively, Silver Tongue is operatic in scope, its musical and thematic astuteness offering myriad colors and textures that mix pummel and dynamism with perceptiveness.
Silver Tongue bears the hallmarks of erudite post-hardcore, and that ensures its potency. Its 80-minute running time may seem intimidating at first, but the album doesn't wane. It remains wholly intriguing, as colossally heavy build-ups explode around important plot points, and atmospheric soundscapes convey the tale in mystical and material form. Light Bearer has an important message to convey, seeking to obliterate those ideologies that have stifled and subjugated freedom for far too long. Silver Tongue is a potent artistic statement, and it is delivered with indomitable intelligence and commitment.
[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]