To say the rise of Leeds, UK based post-metal band Hundred Year Old Man has been startling is an understatement. A much-lauded (rightfully so) debut album called ‘Breaching’ in 2017 and a ton of tours, festivals and more following that, the future was bright as they prepared to enter the studio to record the follow-up record.
Alas, along comes a global pandemic, which brought the music industry grinding to a halt. However, Hundred Year Old Man also suffered the tragic loss of guitarist and vocalist, Owen Pegg. This would be more than enough to end most bands, but Hundred Year Old Man decided the best way to honour Owen was to regroup and continue his legacy, drafting in Tom Arnold (Ghostmoons/ex-Ba’al) to complete the line-up.
Now, on June 17th 2022 and via Consouling Sounds, Hundred Year Old Man honour Owen with the new album ‘Sleep in Light’.
There are some heavy and heady themes that make up a large proportion of what Hundred Year Old Man deliver on this album. Themes of isolation and despair, encroaching darkness and uncompromising weight. It has got a bleakness running through it like a bulbous vein but, as is the band’s trademark, it’s filled with an inimitable beauty and offers up bright and hopeful spots.
It’s this combination, and the story behind this album’s creation, that makes it such an emotional listening experience. You can head-bang, you can grin and gurn, you can raise a fist and stomp your feet but through all of that, you’ll feel something. You don’t have know the band or their lost friend to feel the sentiment that pours from this record.
There’s plenty to dig the teeth into as well, Hundred Year Old Man have packed this album with extensive and momentous journeys. From the 11+ minute opener of A New Terror, where intense noise crashes into post-melody, to the ‘just short’ of 10 minutes that is the haunting, cold and unrelenting title track. With these first two efforts, Hundred Year Old Man raise the bar they have previously set for themselves.
A bar that they continue to raise as the near 17-minute epic that is I Caught a Glimpse of Myself on Fire rings out. Too much? Not enough as it turns out. Partially because this track is one that showcases just how beautifully dark and exceptionally measured this band’s style of post-heaviness can be. Where taking their time to express a wealth of pain, sorrow and distress was the only way for this to play out.
It is an incredible listen and impossible to top, although that’s not to suggest it’s a downhill slope from this point on. It’s just no-one would blame you for pressing pause here, taking a breath and readying yourself for what comes next.
Speaking of which. Seldom is the shortest track on the album and an opportunity to sit within deeper atmosphere created by Hundred Year Old Man. Before Honne and Stone Sail see the band deliver melodies that lift the soul, all while having inherent heaviness and chaotic tones. Both are hefty slices of brilliance.
Such emotion, such feeling, such honesty and passion, Sleep in Light really has proven to be an album that few will ever forget. So, it’s no surprise that with Monoamine and Livyatan, Hundred Year Old Man cap of the experience with both style and substance. Showcasing their unwavering dedication to bleakness, the sense of isolation, despair and the suffocating darkness. Yet, it’s done in a way that continues to invoke hope and make these tracks feel grander.
Make this your priority listening.
Hundred Year Old Man – Sleep in Light Full Track Listing:
1. A New Terror
2. Sleep In Light
3. I Caught a Glimpse of Myself on Fire
6. Stone Sail
Hundred Year Old Man - Sleep In Light (Consouling Sounds)
The Final Score - 10/10