FINAL LIGHT - FINAL LIGHT
HEAVY, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT.
Final Light is a one-off project that combines Johannes Persson, vocal and de facto leader of post-metallers Cult of Luna and synth-wave nutty professor James Kent aka Perturbator. Both collaborators have estimable CVs bristling with underground cred, but you do wonder what the hell this is going to be like.
For the first few seconds of the record, there seems a risk of this being a ham-fisted retro-synth experiment. Harsh as it may sound, metal musicians dabbling in other genres tend to sound just like metal musicians dabbling in other genres. The opener, Nothing Will Bear Your Name, however, builds patiently and deliberately like a pernicious gas leak with deceivingly simple yet asymmetrical synth layers introduced incrementally. It builds steadily until an almighty implosion into nightmarish world-ending volume. This gradualist approach is a tactic deployed consistently in the record as a means of setting an unnerving tone and exponentially opening the valves of suspense leading to annihilation. The most drawn-out and overstated example of this is the 10 minute Ruin to Decay where a steady ascent of intensifying synth strata leads to a monstrous, malformed album closer.
Final Light is inescapably heavy, devastatingly so. We are talking the extinction event heaviness of Neurosis or indeed Cult of Luna that combines apocalyptic density with overwhelming spacious perspective. The aptly titled In the Void, for example, condenses world-swallowing heaviness with a sense of monumental proportion. This has been done well in the past by other acts who go for wide-screen apocalyptic soundscapes, but Final Light has a futuristic space odyssey atmosphere that is at once suffocating, elegiac and unfathomably huge. It would be a soundtrack to watching a planet end.
Yet the unique USP of Final Light is that this produced from synths rather than guitars but played with dissonant riffs like it is the latter. Officially, therefore, this is an electronica record, but you would be pushed to make the distinction sometimes. Even metal purists will feel struggle not to acknowledge the sheer heaviness – of sound and aesthetic - of this record. Out of all the tracks, perhaps the most overtly electronic is the title track which has more of an industrial, beat-driven propulsion and a stunning, dystopian soaring melody and pulverising beauty.
Persson’s vocal delivery has always been unerringly harsh and here is no different. On paper this might not be complimentary to a synth-wave habitat but his organic, fluvial bellow is xenolithic and barbaric yet somehow fits with the sweeping macrocosmic coldness rather than at odds with it. It was apparently Kent’s idea to recruit Persson for vocals on this project and, if that is the case, it was far-sighted as this makes a unique, compelling, and devastating combination.
Epic and cinematic seem a bit too glib to describe Final Light, but it delves into something that is thoroughly engulfing, colossal and dystopian. It has been executed with focus and purpose too with a gripping aesthetic - devastatingly immersive.
Check out Final Light on bandcamp: https://finallight.bandcamp.com/album/final-light