By Justin M. Norton
At one time a metal band’s career trajectory was the following: try to get as big as possible; revel in bacchanalian tour-bus excess and break up amidst arguments of side projects and song licensing. The latest career trajectory: record great music that only a select coterie hears, promptly disband and drop a re-release so the rest of the world knows what they missed.
Ever hear of The Year Of Our Lord? Kudos if you have, because they were damn good. Some readers might have caught their 1999 EP or the 2002 self-titled release From Willowtip . I hadn’t heard any of their music until recently but I’m glad the Dead To You compilation showed up on my doorstep like an early Christmas present. It contains their entire recorded output, including a remastered version of their eponymous album
Much of the music on Dead To You is years old but is consistently fresh, interesting and creative. Guitarist and songwriter Nick Heigelmann’s melodies would be the envy of many songwriters or convince them to sell their souls to the devil a la Jimmy Page and Robert Johnson. His brother Scott’s voice complements the playing well. The music is informed by early Swedish death ( but not in a bad copycat way) and melodic Carcass, with guitar work that would make a young Michael Amott proud. The Year of Our Lord also started doing this way before Swedish death metal became trendy so no one can accuse them of wagon jumping.
The music on both discs is often genuinely moving and Heigelmann’s solos are a rare commodity – they enhance the songs and don’t appear like so much window dressing. It’s a shame that The Year Of Our Lord moved on after recording such promising music but at least Willowtip gave this band an appropriate sendoff. The Heigelmann brothers should write more music – they are too talented to sit on the sidelines while lesser bands churn out dreck.