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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
A Storm of Light
And We Wept The Black Ocean Within
Neurot

Rating: 3.7/10 ?


May 29, 2008
You have been abandoned -- a fragment of your ship cradles your unconscious body, inching you closer to home and guarding you from the depths and terror of open water. Suddenly, painfully, slowly, you begin to slip from this makeshift life raft; your toes begin to dip into the ocean as thousands of horrible creatures with fluorescent eyes gather to watch your descent into nothingness. Suddenly you awaken, unable to breathe, sinking, flailing wildly in every direction, but it's no use - you're dying, and it's only a matter of time before the ocean crushes you.

Sounds pretty epic, doesn't it? Achieving this kind of immensity is apparently the aim of Brooklyn-based A Storm of Light on their debut LP for Neurot Recordings, And We Wept The Black Ocean Within, and while the concept sounds terrifying and impressive, the results showcased on the album suggests not the incarnation of an imposing Metal leviathan but rather a group of musicians in desperate need of ideas and inspiration.

When it's done right, it's hard to find anything more badass than progressive metal. But doing it right is not a simple task. To succeed requires a group with enough knowledge of the structure and potential of songwriting as to require eight or ten minutes to explore all of the possibilities, while at the same time possessing a deeply rooted desire to make music so loud and so bloodcurdlingly heavy that it scares off the geeks who have studied enough music theory to appreciate the intricacy of what exactly is going on. It's the kind of thing that can bring a tear to the eye just thinking about how completely and utterly Rock & Roll the idea is, which makes it all the more painful and disappointing when it's executed ineptly. Yes, the majority of the substantial cuts on And We Wept… crack the seven-minute mark, but almost nothing happens in those seven minutes that would necessitate the time taken to carry it out. In the long run, instead of being engaging and intimidating, the album is almost immediately tedious, and rarely escapes being a tax on the listener's patience.

The formula used by A Storm of Light is fairly consistent throughout the hour-plus running time of And We Wept The Black Ocean Within - slow, overdramatic openings using repetitive, spaced out power chords accented by hulking drum thuds and unpleasant vocal bellowings that seem to drone on for centuries. Even the handfuls of atmospheric interludes provided are pointless as they provide ambience to an album that needs anything but. The lyrics add little, centering on obvious and often mediocre imagery of waves and the abyss and isolation of the sea, and to absorb it all while reading through song titles like "Vast And Endless" and "Leaden Tide" produces a sinister feeling that A Storm of Light are almost deriding themselves through all of this.

One of the most immediately evident truths is that Josh Graham should to consider reworking his vocal approach. Singing in a metal band is extraordinarily difficult; the chops and endurance required to do it well are hard to come by, and Graham's guttural bellow fails to inject A Storm of Light's attack with any amount of vivacity and often simply emphasizes the dryness of the group's sound. "Mass," the deserved centerpiece of the album, shows some embers of the sound that A Storm of Light is capable of; Graham's vocals show some passion and life, the prose is strong, and the atmosphere is daunting and compelling, especially in comparison with the rest of the album.

Perhaps all of this detachment and monotony was just part of the plan, but then one has to wonder what the merits of such an approach are. Challenging, yes, but shouldn't an album also be enjoyable? Isn't that what defines popular music as music that people listen to for pleasure? After all, this isn't free-jazz. In plain terms, And We Wept The Black Ocean Within is a self-indulgent mess. It's the kind of album Roger Waters had nightmares about creating when conceptualizing Animals, is difficult to sit through, and ultimately loses its struggle for the listener's attention.

Reviewed by Dave Toropov
Introduced to music in the womb with a pair of headphones on his mother's stomach, Dave Toropov has yet to recover the experience. A writer based in Boston and New York, he has also written for Prefix Magazine and What Was It Anyway, and is the maintainer of the "Middleclass Haunt" blog.

See other reviews by Dave Toropov

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