Hope Drone – Cloak of Ash (Review)

Hope DroneHope Drone are an Australian Post-Black Metal band. This is their début album.

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.

Moanaa – Descent (Review)

MoanaaMoanaa are an Atmospheric Sludge Metal band from Poland and this is their début album.

This is an interesting and multi-faceted release that combines elements of Sludge, Post-Metal and Progressive Metal together into an overarching framework of Atmospheric Sludge lasting just under 60 minutes.

Soft acoustics and Post-Metal melodies clash with harsh Sludge and Progressive workouts. Heavy riffs and ethereal melodies create soundscapes that merge the best of both. This is a richly textured and layered album and the songs have a lot of depth and dark energy. Even when the tempo drops there’s a brooding undercurrent of repressed power and understated grandeur.

The vocals snarl and gnash their way through the songs. Ugly, vicious and essentially Death Metal in style, they’re juxtaposed against cleaner vocals nicely, in the same way that the music trades brutality with transcendence, darkness with light. There’s a lot of shading here though and the vocals pretty much run the whole spectrum from ethereal cleans to deep growls and everything in the middle.

The playing is tight and the recording perfectly judged. The album sounds great in every way.

I love albums like this. Quality songwriting and flawless execution combine to result in an album that’s an engaging journey and a real treat for anyone into atmospheric music, be that Sludge, Doom or Post-Metal.

Loved it.