If A Storm Of Light haven’t reveled in apocalyptic fantasy they have certainly surmised that doom could be just around the corner on all of their consistently great releases. Whether dealing with personal struggle or nature rebalancing the scales of human folly, Josh Graham’s most personal project has truly become a full fledged entity as time has passed. Plenty of sci-fi and fantasy works have reflected human turbulence and spiritual/paradigm shifts, from the stunning His Dark Materials books by Phil Pullman to the post-technology American DarkAge comic book series. Nations To Flames is a perfect soundtrack to any reflections on what to do after the crash.
“Feel the fire within as the combustion begins”.
While I miss the Vinny Signorelli percussive stomp of early Storm, the band still have a tribal potency that has wandered from post-metal to more abstract but crushing Killing Joke territory. Nearly every song feels dystopian and overwhelming but chock full of monster mid-tempo riffs that scorch Earth. The Matt Bayles mix is pitch perfect for this material. Vocals are more textural than in your face but there is a real message here. Josh Graham’s work with Soundgarden as a visual artist has also seemed to expand his range, though dude always did sick stuff while involved with Neurosis. The visuals accompanying this record are killer, however. It’s like a sci-fi Occupy postcard from Hell, but full of hope in the clarity of revolution’s young eyes. Oh, and Kim Thayil and Will Lindsay drop by to help add to the distorted solemnity.
It’s nice to see this come out on Southern Lord. While the label’s turn towards noise grind is cool, I am glad it isn’t their sole focus these days and some slower, furrowed brow sludgy stuff is still on the Southern Lord roster. Love this. Study this. At least acknowledge that real concern and feeling for the human condition is etched into every note. The question is, after the dust settles…what next?