If nothing else, A Storm of Light couldn't have picked a more appropriate or evocative title when they landed on "And We Wept the Black Ocean Within." Those seven words perfectly capture the band's music, oppressive doom metal with a distinctly depressing and bleak nautical tinge. This attention to the optical side of an aural medium is to be expected from a band fronted by Neurosis' visual director, a band known for creating their own desolate soundpictures and apocalyptic visions.
"And We Wept the Black Ocean Within" fades in on a spare piano intro; a lonely vessel adrift on an endless sea beneath a starless night sky. It isn't long, though, before the undersea plates shift and the ocean unleashes its primal fury. This, of course, coming in the form of mammoth rolling waves of distorted crush, the crests of which are savage in their intensity and valleys disquieting in their dreamy liquidity. The resultant ebb and flow is what would happen if Isis were a doom band; a sound that's as monolithic, hypnotic, and predictable as the tides themselves. Vocalist Josh Graham does his best Steve von Till number throughout, and while his cavernous growl is impressive, he doesn't really have the range to pull off the cleaner vocals. At the end of the album's journey, that little boat, and the listener, though buffeted about by A Storm of Light's sonic rumblings, are still afloat above the inky depths, if only by a small margin.
"And We Wept the Black Ocean Within"'s greatest strength is, in the rhythmic mood swings, its pervasive sense of dread. It's certainly an intense listen, but also a challenging one. For all its heft, there just aren't as many interesting things happening throughout the hour's worth of material to keep the second half of the album from drowning in its own repetition. If you can get handle the ups and downs of nature's wrath, these might be waters worth exploring.