Review of "Northern Lights" By Sea Of Green
There is an old maxim, which goes, “The darkest hour is just before the dawn.” Apparently, when the first rays of Northern Lights began to poke their heads above the horizon, most Rock fans must have been running west looking for a sunrise.
The six-song EP from the Canadian band Sea Of Green, Northern Lights was one of those early landmark albums of the Post Commercial Era. Unfortunately, as with the recordings of many of its peers (Animalcule, The Darkness, The Want, Witchcraft etc.), it was a criminally underrated work that escaped the attention of the oblivious Rock-world at large.
One cannot stress enough what a shame it was that Sea Of Green's music was not embraced by the Rock-community en masse because, like those aforementioned peers, its music was like a superfood containing all the nutrients in excelsis, which the music scene was (and still is) gravely wanting in.
Pulling no punches, Northern Lights begins straightway with the track Move The Mountains. Like a bulldozer festooned with flowers, it is massive, hulking slab of Heavy Rock melded with a laid-back hippie sensibility. As with many of its Canadian brethren (Rush, Triumph, Puddy, Tricky Woo, Sheavy), Sea Of Green understands that pensiveness and heaviness can be fused seamlessly without one detracting from the other.
Next comes the song Look To The Sky. With its gargantuan, wah-drenched riff, it is a song about either the aftermath of an alien encounter or spiritual enlightenment, depending on one's interpretation. Especially with its spacey middle-section, this would have been a great song to be featured in an episode of The X-Files. One can just see Mulder running through the forest, while this track is playing in the background.
Continuing on with spiritual themes, If You Want My Soul is another pensive yet heavy number, which shows the band's mastery of the call-and-response blues structure. Like the scenery one passes to and from work everyday, Rock has so much commerce with the Blues, that is has often lost sight of the stylistic conventions the Blues is composed of. The fact that this tune has an antiphonal form shows that Sea Of Green, like many Post Commercial bands (Ryan Kickland's Animalcule comes to mind), has deeper roots and a greater sense of music history that have bands of earlier eras.
I suppose I should digress at this point and specifically discuss the talents of Travis Cardinal, the band's guitarist/singer. Like a strong cup of coffee, Cardinal's guitar-tone is warm, fat, and rich. In addition, his signing is high and clear with absolutely no yarlling, rapping, or guttural Death-Metal stylings, making his voice a sound for sore ears indeed.
Ever relentless in its musical assault, the record next gives one Time And Space. Here gain, Travis uses the wah-pedal to devastating effect on the main riff, which mercilessly creeps toward one like a sonic serpent of sound.
If its heavy songs have a pensive, spiritual bent, one can be assured the band's ballad will be absolutely ethereal. Called Change With Me, the song features soaring guitar melodies atop Cardinal's lissome arpeggios. Listening to it makes one imagine sitting in a sylvan setting, such as what is on the album's cover, staring at the Aurora Borealis and beyond.
Lastly, one has the song In The Sun. A heavy track, this time with a swinging, eight-note feel, it is a celebratory song about the exhilaration of spiritual freedom. This would be a great soundtrack to a bunch of blissed-out guys walking around Oak Island on a warm summer day, soaking up both the scenery and lore of buried treasure.
And so, in closing, I would urge everyone to buy this record wherever one can find it. Listen to it at home, in the car, at work, at your wedding, or on vacation. Slip it to the DJ playing at your daughter's homecoming or prom. The world will be a better place as a result.
Now keep calm and buy vinyl.
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