Light Bearer – Silver Tongue (2013)

Silver TongueLight Bearer are a London-formed “all encompassing art/music/narrative project.” With music, visuals and text Light Bearer take inspiration from the likes of Milton’s Paradise Lost to re-tell the stories of Genesis and Original Sin from humanist, atheist, and feminist perspectives, criticising constructions of gender, religion and patriarchy. “Our goal”, they write, “is to highlight ideologies that should have been abandoned before the dark ages.”

They’re also as heavy as fuck.

I came down with something unpleasant yesterday, and spent most of the day in bed before eventually hauling myself out to see a professional wrestling show in a local hall. Hey, don’t laugh – I reckon everyone needs to go to a local show at least once, to see for yourself how much fun this ridiculously and risky entertainment can be. Do it.

But, on waking this Saturday morning after a wonderful ten hours of sleep, feeling human again, there was only one album I felt like hearing. This massive slab of noise and guitar, Silver Tongue, Light Bearer’s second album, released last year and available for pay-as-you-like on Bandcamp. Because sometimes loud, heavy, confronting music is better than any coffee.

Light Bearer describe themselves as “melodic post-hardcore”, but they’ve gone very post; progressive metal and post-rock loom large in their sound. Long songs, with massive drums and a hugely throbbing bass accompanied by atmospheric, screeching, roaring sound effects and synths, piano and strings providing a sometimes sinister, sometimes defiant backing to the primal battle between authority and freedom that form the narrative of the songs.

For the most part the vocals are harsh screams; perhaps my least favourite part of the band’s sound. Not enough range, not enough light and dark within the screamed vocals – I find the lyrics near-impossible to follow without reading them as I do so, which is a shame because there’s some interesting stuff going on in there. But at times clean vocals come along, sung with a gorgeous tenor, adding moments of sanctity above the hellish-roar of the music.

Instrumentally, it’s the guitar that fascinates me the most, and might be the element that takes them furthest away from what could otherwise be a very black metal sound. The guitar is bright and harsh, full of diminished chords and odd timings. Very rarely does the guitar chug down on power chords, notes are left open to ring out, feedback and distort off each other. Oh, but when the guitar does chug, like on the album’s centrepiece ‘Aggressor & Usurper’, it rumbles low like the hosts of hell marching forth.

Very expressive, at times jarring, flipping between a huge, jazz-inflected riff played down low and bright, ringing, atonal chords played further up the neck of the instrument. Some of the most exciting heavy guitar playing I’ve heard recently.

Put together, Silver Tongue sees Light Bearer lead the listener through nearly 80 minutes of dark and light. It is superbly melodic, that bright guitar doing things in the higher register that only make the heavier underpinnings of the songs even more forceful.

Some of the heaviest music I’ve heard recently, without being all-that-metal. Heavy as fuck.

Beer match: Let’s do heavy yet bright. Let’s do a beer from London. If I were listening to this album late at night rather than early in the morning, I’d quite happily pair it with Fuller’s 1845, a bottle-conditioned strong ale. It’s got a solid and sweet fruit-cake base, but a bright fruity hop finish. Yeah, that’d do nicely.

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