A Storm of Light
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A Storm of Light

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"piano-wire-thick guitar strings and pummeling, cinematic doom"

With his work in Neurosis, Red Sparowes, Battle of Mice, and Blood and Time over the course of the last few years, Josh Graham has become post-metal's regular man-about-town. Now comes A Storm of Light with their debut, which appears to be thematically based on the exploitation of marine life and the abuse of Mother Earth's oceans. With a line-up including Domenic Seita
and Pete Angevine, you can feel the thundering rage of the band's oppressive tarthick din. They rumble and plunder, preferring the trappings of crushing guitars, a percussive cymbal wash and penetrative, slow-motion aural violence as opposed to drugs, fuzz boxes and beards. The deep-sea rainbow visuals provide a hypnotic backdrop for the 'Through Silver In Blood' - influenced lurching guitars and tribal drums in 'Thunderhead' and 'Leaden Tide,' which simultaneously tugs at your eco-conscience, love of detuned, piano-wire-thick guitar strings and pummeling, cinematic doom. - Terrorizer Magazine


"Orchestral? Elemental? Epic? All of these labels fit"

A Storm Of Light is yet another forward thinking band that lays waste to the idea that you can categorize music, heavy or otherwise. Storm's latest release "And We Wept The Black Ocean Within" is exactly what its title claims it to be; a black ocean that wells within us, forcing us to cry out that which corrupts our soul a little each day. Some bands give us an escape, others give us a release and A Storm Of LightÑmuch like NeurosisÑlands more in the latter. Sure there is some escape through the jagged soundscapes Storm creates with feedback and percussion but what we really have here is a release, a catharsis that comes from confronting these demons and doing what we can to drain them away before they kill us. There are no easy outs here and that goes for Storm's music which is an aural assault combining bombastic riffs, jagged percussion, dissonance, noise and the bark of vocals that sound more like part of Storm's sound than something the band would focus on.

And We Wept begins with the sounds of the ocean mixed with a light piano and a droning almost chant. This is obviously the calm before the storm, the minute and forty seven seconds where we prepare ourselves for what's coming. The follow up track "Vast And Endless" immediately arrives with a slow and pounding rhythm sound that is being backed up by the guitar. The riff on "Vast And Endless" is simply adding depth and nuance to the drums. The vocals kick in and we're taken into something violent and terrible but something that stops just as suddenly as it began. The tension is palpable as the song slows down to just a piano and then comes back in with the force of giant punching through rocks. This is unpleasant but beautiful, basic but intelligent, a running part and counter part. In short this is how life is but translated to sound.

What follows over the next bar manages to run the gamut of sound and emotions. The vocals bark harshly and then ease back into a beautiful chorus. The drums pound incessantly, scarcely allowing you to breathe before opening up and punching you in the chest. The best part here is that the guitars follow absolutely no path in their arrangement. At times they are there to feed the percussion, sometimes they just add random sounds to ethereal nature of the songs and then they will open up into pure devastation. A track like "Thunderhead" begins huge showing us where Doom Metal should be headed and then stops, and becomes ethereal and elemental. That beauty bleeds into "Undertow" a second in the three "Albatross" sections of the album. Here we are again allowed to catch our breath as the calm of the Ocean and the hum of simple noise lets us to contemplate what we have just heard before going back into it. By the final ten-minute track "Iron Heart" you're expecting some resolve, some huge doom like juggernaut of sound that gives this battle its end, and you don't get it. The end is simple, almost mellow and you're left to resolve things yourself, much as you are when facing your own darkness.

Orchestral? Elemental? Epic? All of these labels fit And We Wept as do beautiful, distraught and heart breaking. Neurot Recordings seems more interested in artists that are trying to create a sonic opposition to the plastic and lethargic world we're forced to deal with every day. We sit and watch reality TV, Malls and the idea of the Happy Consumer and how it slowly eviscerates anything with any type of culture or value to it. Then there are those who force us to look inwards and face all the blackness we build up and release it. A Storm Of Light has definitely stepped up and brought yet another layer to that catharsis.

- Nonelouder.com


"Heavy just found it's new definition"

Heavy just found it's new definition

Sometimes, music doesn't need to feature furious blastbeats or coruscating guitar lines to be heavy. Proof of this fact is provided in more than sufficient quantities on "And We Wept The Black Ocean Within", the new record from A Storm Of Light.

Fronted by ex Red Sparrowes man Josh Graham (also visual director of the mighty Neurosis), this album is fucking heavy. On the scales of such things, I'd equate it somewhere between Bill Wards' leaden underpants and the universes' entire supply of dark matter. Imagine The Melvins lost all their friends, families and possessions, sunk into the deepest, darkest depression in human history and decided to make an album that would encapsulate their collective state of mind. That album would be almost half as heavy as "And We WeptÉ"

Refusing to adhere to any notions of verse/ chorus-based song structure, the record wends its' weighty way through just over an hour of music that makes Black Sabbaths opening riff to "Iron Man" sound like the theme tune to My Little Pony. An utterly serious, brilliantly-produced, multi-layered and artistic work quite undeserving of this rather frivolous review, it is a genuine must for any student of intense, furious and above all, heavy music. - Subba-Cultcha.com


"multi-layered and just brilliant"

AND WE WEPT THE BLACK OCEAN WITHIN
A STORM OF LIGHT
Reviewed by ChrisSD on 4/05/2008.

A Storm of Light feature Josh Graham of Neurosis, ex-Red Sparowes, Battle of Mice, etc. Their line-up also includes Vinny Signorelli of Unsane fame. So what should you expect from these guys?

Well, their debut album does fall into the new genre everyone's either loving, hating or bored-of-already - that of 'post-metal'. But don't let that put you off. No, no, no. Because this album if fucking fantastic. Sure, a first time listen, might make one wince that it sounds a little too Neurosis like. But wait, be patient, keep listening, go listen through it again. Ah, yes. There. Right there. It's bloody good. Oh, it gets better with every listen does it? Oh. Oh, it's what 'Given to the Rising' could only dream of being? Nice one.

Barring my stream-of-consciousness thoughts whilst listening to the album a few times in one night, there's one thing you should know. You should include this into your CD or LP collection when it comes out.

'And We Wept The Black Ocean Within' is stunning, with Josh Graham showing that he can certainly play guitar and not just fiddle around with visuals for Neurosis. He left Red Sparowes earlier this year because they were writing lighter and lighter material, and he was writing heavy riffs. Thank you Josh Graham for forming this band. This is what the so-called post-metal bands should start doing. Too many are turning into so-called 'post-rock' bands. Stick with the heavy dammit! And A Storm of Light have definitely done that! In fact at times the album can sound damn heavy such as on 'Black Ocean'.

The album is roughly an hour long and is a dreamy languid dirge like affair. And whilst those words might not immediately make ninehertz listeners want to listen, they should. It's hazy metal - if sounds effortless but it's heavy, multi-layered and just brilliant. Picking out highlights is a little pointless with a lot of this kind of music as it's obvious the listener must invest the time to listen to the album as a cohesive whole. However, 'Vast and Endless' and 'Mass' are little blips of genius in the hypnotizing mire of the album.

Quick note on the artwork also by Josh Graham - it's highly original and bloody lovely. Something a bit different to the norm (which I guess it has to be due to many post-metal bands having a close affinity to 'epic imagery' such as the sea). Go check this album out, and give it time to sink in. Great new band to add to the new post-metal cannon - Ninehertz.com


"a massive tsunami of sound and thunder"

Featuring current and former members of Neurosis, Tombs, Unsane and Swans, A Storm of Light is exactly what you might guess based on the title and cover: a massive tsunami of sound and thunder, intent on submerging you beneath its crushing waters. ItÕs progressive hardcore/doom with a tortured, nautical theme: slow, crashing slabs of guitar, bellowed vocals and dissonant waves of feedback drifting beneath the cacophony. In other words, Neurosis meets Ahab.
The Neurosis comparison shouldnÕt come as a surprise - that bandÕs visual director, Josh Graham, provides the roaring vocals here, with a loose narrative/concept piece about the sea and the secrets buried below. Notes on the labelÕs bandpage links to a National Geographic article about Òbog bodiesÓ - preserved Stone Age corpses found suspended in peat bogs, and in an odd bit of synchronicity, that image of dead men suspended in the murk had already come to me when I was listening to the first song, ÒVast and Endless.Ó Weird.
Harrowing and bleak, ÒVast and EndlessÓ has the listener treading water for most of its 7-minute length, and then, in the trackÕs final, roiling throes, you look down and realize that the depths below conceal a kelp-forest of fishwhite limbs and swaying torsos. And itÕs those dead menÕs voices that then chant the ominous, groaning sea-shanty of the following track, ÒBlack Ocean.Ó
The remainder of the album is both cinematic and colossal, as Storm of Light pounds the listener with wave after wave of oceanic dirges. WhatÕs most notable is how they work a succession of tranquil respites into tracks like ÒLeaden Tide,Ó as if itÕs safer and quieter below the crashing waves than it is on the churning surface. ItÕs like the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, where the camera keeps dipping below the waves to reveal a refuge that seems temptingly safe but is most likely permanent.
If itÕs A Storm of LightÕs goal to drown you in atmosphere and conjure up visions of a suffocating, fading-light demise, theyÕve done a damn fine job of it. YouÕre not going to want to listen to this during daylight hours, or even with the lights on - itÕs meant to be taken as a full experience, to be consumed by and swallowed up in - teethofthedivine.com


Discography

And We Wept the Black Ocean Within: Full Length CD/DLP. Released June 2008 via Neurot Recordings/Revolver USA/Southern Distribution.

Primitive North: split release with Nadja, CD/DLP:
Released March 2009 via Robotic Empire Records.

Forgive Us Our Tresspasses: Full Length CD/DLP. Released September 2009 via Neurot Recordings/Revolver USA/Southern Distribution.

Photos

Bio

A Storm of Light

The voice that leads And We Wept the Black Ocean Within is now dead.

No, tragedy hasn't struck since the album was recorded. The debut release from Brooklyn, NY trio A Storm of Light is anything but posthumous. However, within its murky, suffocating depths there lies little certainty about the origin and veracity of the words bellowed by guitarist Josh Graham (also Neurosis visual director, Blood and Time, Battle of Mice and formerly of Red Sparowes) as mouthpiece of the album's protagonist.

The unreliable narrator as a literary device -- familiar to the works of authors like Edgar Allan Poe and William Faulkner -- places readers within an intractable mind in a severely compromised state. Interestingly, this notion rarely explored in rock music is the essence of And We Wept the Black Ocean Within. The first-person lyrics are unclear exactly who might be delivering them as they appear to move through varying stages of grief (i.e. denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) throughout the course of the album. It could be something inanimate, could be something animal, or it could be the words of someone long deceased. Graham isn't forthcoming with details, however. The closest he comes is a vague hint to the cover artwork and something to do with so-called "bog bodies" -- phenomenally well-preserved human remains dating back to the Celtic Iron Age of persons violently dispensed by being submerged in acidic peat bogs.

Whichever the case may be, these dark themes of drowning, destruction and despair are perfectly suited to A Storm of Light's impressively pressurized sound. Graham is joined on the album by bassist/vocalist Domenic Seita (ex-Tombs, ex-Asea) and drummer Pete Angevine of Satanized. Since this recording, rhythmic pugilist extraordinaire Vincent Signorelli (Unsane, ex-Swans) has signed on as second drummer. As you'd guess by the pedigree, A Storm of Light is brutally hard-hitting. However, the group's haunting harmonic drone meshing guitar, vocals and subtle keyboard layers gives listeners a sense of slow suffocation in waves of noise rather than straightforward pummeling.

While the immediate heavy rock referents of the band's antecedents make sense, the album has just as much in common with narrative-based groups like Crime & The City Solution than conceptual metal. As an early influence on Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (and later to share members), Crime & The City Solution's Simon Bonney penned dark tales of desperation and punctuated them with precise song structures that flowed with the prose, rarely adhering to traditional verse-chorus-verse formula. Likewise, And We Wept the Black Ocean Within moves in versicle form between the voice and instruments. The result is an album densely packed with suspense, tension and eruptive release.

Aided by master engineer Joel Hamilton (Book of Knots, Battle of Mice), Graham's slack-tuned guitar rumbles and groans while subtle keyboard lines and Seita's bass slither throughout the lowest ranges of the musical scale. Angevine's lunging rhythms add crashing and propulsive heft. The vocals sound as intricately layered as the other instruments, often sounding unclear how many voices are adding to the harmony... guitar notes, voices, synth chords all blur into a wash that quite suitably evokes a sense of deep sea water pressure. We wouldn't go so far to suggest that it could give listeners a case of the bends, but And We Wept the Black Ocean Within is not the type of album that one can easily escape and switch into something else.

Throughout, there are many jutting sonic surprises that we'd be reticent to reveal herein. Suffice to say, the debut of A Storm of Light is a truly suspenseful and captivating work that bears nearly as much to do with masterful cinema and literature as it does with the type of monolithic and epic sounds of its musical progenitors.

-- Dave Clifford