Battle of Mice
Tracklist1. Missing (feat. Kim Thayil and Nerissa Campbell)
2. Collapse (feat. Jarboe)
3. Black Wolves (feat. Kim Thayil and Nerissa Campbell)
4. Destroyer (feat. Carla Kihlstedt)
5. Wretched Valley
7. Leave No Wounds
8. Death’s Head (feat. Jarboe)
9. Wasteland (feat. Kris Force, Matthias Bossi and Nerissa Campbell)
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It’s funny that despite their name, A Storm of Light has never been able to fully penetrate the substantial shadow cast over their sound by Neurosis, and of course by extension Isis. Now this isn’t to say the band hasn’t crafted some very good post-metal in their own right, but to be able to clearly identify points of reference with most of their material is telling to some degree. For example, In the Absence of Truth factors considerably in “Collapse”’s formula. That said, the shadow metaphor works well here in tone, and the track’s sludgy guitar work and thunderous drumming make it a clear stand-out.
To their credit, A Storm of Light never let these clear and present influences become distracting—the majority of Valley of Death’s run-time fits cleanly in this post-metal genealogy, but I never found myself rolling my eyes or anything. Transcendence is not the order of the day, yet before judging the album too harshly, moments like the Given to the Rising-esque climax of “Black Wolves” and “Wasteland” put on a fine display. “Wretched Valley” and “Leave No Wounds,” toward Valley of Death’s back-end, don’t have much going for them, dragging on and existing largely as filler, but are redeemed to a degree by the monumental “Wasteland” at the record’s close.
The vocal work remains an acquired taste, likely never to be a strength of the band; it can bog down tracks like “Silver” and “Missing” in its near-nu-metal quality, but on others it complements the music well enough. One very potent weapon A Storm of Light has in its arsenal is the synth work present, adding very surreal, dense, and often downright eerie and disquieting effect as needed.
Overall, As The Valley Of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade has enough going for it that it rates favorably, particularly in its first half as the latter portions can drag. The wealth of guest spots on the record do little to enhance its sound (as opposed to an album like Converge’s Axe to Fall, which benefited greatly); still, at the end of the day, what we have here is a shining example (no pun intended) of a genre release, but one that post-metal and beard fans should have few problems with.