Well this is a long one; 7 tracks across 77 minutes. Hope Drone don’t do things by halves it seems. But then why should they? This kind of music demands complete immersion and Cloak of Ash provides ample opportunity for this.
The music has a Black Metal base onto which is built Post-Black Metal wanderings and Atmospheric Sludge Metal influences.
Hope Drone take the Cascadian Black Metal template and use it to fashion themselves a wide-reaching, emotive album that’s highly textured and richly delivered. All speeds and tempos are catered to as well as heavier and lighter sections, which means that Cloak of Ash is a diverse and pleasurable listen that succeeds in painting in shades of darkness and light.
The Black Metal is never too far from the surface. Even the Post-Metal and Sludge/Doom elements of their sound have that Blackened twinge to them, although that doesn’t stop them from dripping with a darkened beauty. The band can play ugliness and aggression extremely well, but there are enough moments of resplendent glory and delicate allure here that it’s easy to become mesmerized with the band’s hypnotic performance.
The lighter elements are augmented with some Ambient/Drone interludes. When these segue gently into incredibly effective mid-paced atmospherics it’s a very uplifting and transcendental experience. Of course, I’m aware that words like transcendental get bandied around far too often when describing bands like Hope Drone, but it fits like a glove and conveys the appropriate feeling that the band can sometimes create.
The agonised screams are harsh and unforgiving, reminding you that no matter how the music sounds or where it takes you, this is still music forged from the underworld.
Hope Drone have truly created a wonderfully realised piece of Blackened art. I’m thoroughly impressed and completely in thrall to it.
An essential listen.