Metal Storm logo
Final Light - Final Light review

Bandcamp music player

23 users:
Band: Final Light
Album: Final Light
Release date: June 2022

01. Nothing Will Bear Your Name
02. In The Void
03. It Came With The Water
04. Final Light
05. The Fall Of A Giant
06. Ruin To Decay

One of the biggest strengths of Roadburn as a festival is its tendency to bring together unexpected collaborators, with reliably successful results. Final Light was my highlight of this year’s edition of Roadburn, and now, with Final Light, the rest of the world can savour this treat.

Final Light is a collaboration between Johannes Persson of Cult Of Luna and James Kent, also known as Perturbator. While it’s perhaps not a pairing of artists that many people would have predicted would occur before it was announced as a curated performance at Roadburn, it’s not an illogical one, particularly with the extensive use of large-sounding synths on Cult Of Luna’s Vertikal and Mariner, along with Kent’s established history as a metal musician prior to Perturbator. The project was intended to debut in 2020, but Persson and Kent had plenty of time to gestate over the fruits of their labours, as this debut was delayed twice due to the pandemic. When I interviewed Persson in January 2021, I asked whether they might decide to release a studio version of their collaboration while waiting for the chance to perform it live, but he made it clear it was intended for the stage. After having heard it both live and on record, I can understand the rationale behind this, even if it does translate well between the two settings.

Just as the pairing of Persson and Kent makes sense once one has heard it proposed, the sound of Final Light makes sense as coming from the two artists once one has heard it; it feels like a logical halfway point between Cult Of Luna and Perturbator, while not being overly like either band. Of the two, it is closer to Perturbator; Persson performs vocals and guitars, but while his roars are unmistakable, it feels like he influenced the writing of these songs more as a composer than as a guitarist, with guitars relatively sparse in their appearance across Final Light. The core of the record instrumentally falls into Kent’s domain, as synths and other electronics largely dominate the soundscapes. Stepping back from Perturbator’s gothic detour on last year’s Lustful Sacraments, Final Light veers closer to his straight-up synthwave material, albeit mainly focused on big, slower atmospheric sounds; think less The Uncanny Valley and more New Model.

Where it feels that Persson contributes in terms of writing is how huge and ominous many of these compositions sound; from the industrial tinges of the percussion to the overall darkness of the record, there’s a towering aura to Final Light that echoes the dystopian metropolis vibes of Vertikal. It’s a vibe that, when placed on a huge stage with a dazzling light show, became overwhelming at Roadburn. On record, one’s focus shifts more towards the insidious groove that permeates the album; a lot of Final Light is driven by phasing, pulsing beats, and it’s an approach that works incredibly well, giving off an effortless coolness to these subdued tracks.

What I’ve mentioned in the previous paragraph is why I can see Final Light was envisaged as a live-oriented suite of music; some of that sense of awe is slightly lost in the transition from stage to album. However, the largest bugbear that I have with Final Light is how Persson’s guitar is produced. It doesn’t overly affect the album, because guitars are quite limited in their use on the album, but it would have been preferable for the sections in which they do feature (or at least in which the synths clearly imitate guitars, as it’s possible some sections I’m incorrectly attributing to one over the other) to make the strongest impact that they could.

The lead lines aren’t such a problem (a very cool motif about a minute into “In The Void” sounds fine), but at times, the distortion and riffing is both muted and suboptimal in tone. There’s examples early in both “It Came With The Water” and the title track of riffs that would sound great, if they weren’t produced to have such a flat tone. I assume that this was a conscious decision on the part of the duo in order to avoid the guitars overpowering the electronics, as the music from both members’ main projects is consistently excellently produced, as are the vocals and electronics on this album. However, I do feel like, in addition to these occasional sections that have an underwhelming tone, there’s also a few sections where a more metallic crunch would add an extra oomph and emphasis that would take songs to the next level.

Still, this is an electronic album first and a metal one second, so it’s not particularly problematic that the latter is underserved. The core sound of Final Light is focused on the synths, and whether they’re providing pulsating rhythm, layering dark ambience or blasting out melancholic synthwave melodies, the electronics work excellently across the album. Some might find it slightly lacking in variety, but when the basis of Final Light produces tracks as cool as “In The Void”, “It Came From The Water” and “Ruin To Decay”, I don’t find myself wishing for any grand departure, particularly when one of the few sections that doesn’t quite click with me is one of the few times they veer away from this basis (I am referring here to an underwhelming motif in the title track with a disco-style beat, a section that maybe would have worked better if the riff wasn't delivered with the aforementioned flat tone).

Final Light is not quite equal as an experience to seeing Final Light live, but since that is likely to be a one-off experience, this record serves as a suitable stand-in for the optimal experience. As a big fan of Cult Of Luna and Perturbator, it’s unsurprising that I find the offspring of a marriage of the two to be so enjoyable, but this is a project that highlights the talents of both of its members in style.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 7

Written on 29.06.2022 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 2   Visited by: 47 users
01.07.2022 - 07:07
Rating: 8
Ace Frawley
The Spaceman
Thanks for the review, good to get a bit of background around the project as well as your views on the album. I'm really enjoying listening to it at the moment.
The sun shines over The Fool...
14.07.2022 - 09:25

I'm waiting for my copy to arrive to delve into into it properly - Thanks for the review!

Hits total: 959 | This month: 41