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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Review: The Lightbringer - Heptanity


The Lightbringer is a relatively unknown band hailing from Québec, Canada and was founded in 2008 by two brothers, Olivier and Simon Vaillancourt-Girard. They are responsible for about everything that has to do with The Lightbringer. From composing to mixing to producing to playing guitar, bass and drums to vocals, these guys do it all. They are not a two-man outfit, though. Apart from the two brothers, whose artist names are Auraeon and Archan, the line-up is completed by vocalist Fanny Grenier aka Celestheia, Amélie Coté aka Aethera on keys and Stanislav Stefanovski aka Sol-Orcus, also a vocalist. The boundaries of their musical spectrum is set by, in no particular order, death, black and power metal, which they combine into songs with distinct melodic, symphonic touches and fantasy-themed lyrics, also known as melodeath. Having released their first fruits of labor back in 2010 in the form of the full-length ‘Quintessence Of Dawn’, they recently unleashed their latest creation on the world, another full-length called ‘Heptanity’. As the name already more or less suggests, the album, which is a concept album, has the seven primordial divinities and their power as leading subject. In their own words: The Heptanity symbolizes the alliance of the seven Gods in one omnipotent entity, creating the material dimension of Existence.

Of course a good concept, which to me is one with strength, depth and caliber, is nice, but what really counts is the music and, in case of a concept album, the interaction between music and storyline. My first impression after a few minutes of listening to ‘Heptanity’ was not exactly straight-forward, most likely because The Lightbringer’s music is far from straight-forward, and that impression never changed. All songs clock well over 6 minutes, most of them even exceed the 8-minute mark with ease, and they are all packed with an enormous amount of musical and vocal textures, soundscapes and surprises making them impossible to describe accurately. Not often have I come across a release that has been so rich in and filled with details, this must have taken a huge amount of time and patience. Take the vocals for example. There’s three vocalists, each of them with a different reach and range and each of them with a significant part in (many of) the songs. Where the male vocals vary from high-pitched, power-metalesque to deep, ominous growls via psychotic screams, Celestheia’s vocal lines are mainly operatic, bombastic although at times she sings less soprano-like as well. The music can be described in an equal manner: widely ranged and highly varied.

Variety usually is a good thing, but adding these amounts of it to your music without losing coherence is quite the challenge, especially when power metal, which in itself is prone to getting chaotic easily, is one of your main styles. ‘Heptanity’ consists of multi-layered songs that alternate between brilliant, exciting, beautiful, boring and chaotic. Now don’t leave this review after reading the last two qualifications, I will explain this. First let me emphasize that if anything ‘Heptanity’ most certainly is a great album with some amazing music, well worth your attention. I’d also like to emphasize that all members of The Lightbringer are more than capable musicians, to which I count the vocalists as well of course. The combined reach of the vocalists allow them to use extremely versatile vocal lines where multi-instrumentalists Auraeon and Archan seem to be able to skillfully cover every single style available in metal and Aethera’s key-work, though at times a bit underexposed, are an addition at about any given time without distracting too much. Nevertheless I do have some minor criticism: Every time I played this I couldn’t help but get a bit restless every now and then. And why? Well, speed, heaviness, sootiness, anger, atmosphere, variety, choirs, you name it, it’s all there… And at the same time that is exactly this album’s weakness and the reason for my restlessness: It’s ALL there.

In general the brothers Vaillancourt-Girard did a more than good job composing and mixing this, but in their attempts to cover (and use?) everything they overdid things here and there. I haven’t made a case study of this, but to me it feels as if they tried to capture every single atmospheric change and detail from the story in the music. A noble cause, but one that sadly tends to make things sound a bit disorganized at times. Adding to that a wide variety of loosely integrated musical styles, some of which aren’t exactly known for being tight and organized either, and it’s quite easy to lose track of things when you’re composing this, something the excellent sound of the production cannot cover up entirely. Having said this I still think ‘Heptanity’ definitely is worth anyone’s time. The shards of brilliance are way more common on this album than the flaws are, so I for one could quite easily listen past those flaws. Despite the fact this one probably won’t be a contender for album of the year, but I do think that, with a few tweaks, the guys and girls from The Lightbringer should most certainly be considered capable of delivering one. There is so much to discover on this release that I’m certain most metal fans will find something to their liking, regardless their preferences where it comes to genre. Try my personal favorite ‘The Sundering Hammer Of Earths’ on for size. Despite its flaws I urge you to really give this musical chameleon a chance. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for them from now on.

Written by Henric van Essen

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