By Dr. Abner Mality

At its very best, the post-metal genre creates feelings of immense weight mixed with ethereal ambience. Well, Year Of No Light does this better than anyone. In a genre stuffed to overflowing with ineffectual knock-offs and pretentious bores, this Belgian collective transcends in every way.

It's not that they're doing anything new or breaking a lot of boundaries. It just that they flat out excel at everything they do do. Instrumental bands often struggle to overcome that limitation. Year of No Light makes it seem easy. "Ausserwelt" (German for "Otherworld") is perfect as it is, without a single trace of the human voice. The songs have the post-metal characteristics of extra length, mostly slow tempos and mixture of heavy and light. Here, though, when the songs are heavy, they are ULTRA-HEAVY. Not in death metal fashion, but in sounding like a mountain collapsing inside your head. Just listen to the monumental crush in the opening moments of "Hierophante"...devastating. The doom riffs are super thick and fat and also sound extremely epic. The more atmospheric parts are calm and meditative...not dragged out so long that they are boring, but just the right length to create a feeling of peace or sadness, whichever is appropriate. Each of the four huge tracks here ends with drifting ambience, a necessary and soothing cool down after the titan riffs batter your brain. There are no true guitar solos, but there are extended periods where tones, chords and even howling noise are used to add texture.

The whole album and Year Of No Light in general can be summed up in the monster track "Abbesse", which is so mournful, so HUGE and ultimately so inspiring. This is quite a work of art.