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.

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Crowhurst – Crowhurst (Review)

CrowhurstCrowhurst are from the US. This is their latest album and it’s a bit different from their usual experimental, noise-drenched output; this is Black Metal.

The guitars are as thick as syrup and they’re both heavy and melodic. Crowhurst foster an interesting atmosphere of colourful darkness that is rich in both texture and emotional content. This is Black Metal that may have a cold heart but it has an exterior that’s warm to the touch.

The screaming vocals are high pitched and piercing. They’re set low enough in the mix to become one with the music but high enough so that they’re not lost or overwhelmed.

Part Blut Aus Nord, part Xasthur and part Deafheaven; this is richly evocative music that has elements of the Cascadian and Shoegaze movements in addition to the band’s own heart of darkness.

The final track, Luna Falsata, finally gives in to some of their usual style of harsh electronics and experimentalism, as well as also featuring the vocalist of Oxbow.

This is a highly impressive collection of songs that show a mastery of a genre that the band don’t normally dabble in.

Highly recommended.

Ahamkara – The Embers of the Stars (Review)

AhamkaraAhamkara are from the UK and play Atmospheric Black Metal. This is their début album.

This is Black Metal with epic length songs and a windswept feel.

This is the kind of album that’s the soundtrack to exploration. It’s the Blackened equivalent of a map of uncharted territories and frost-worn mountains.

The Embers of the Stars is bitingly cold and achingly sensual in equal amounts. These songs are emotive and expressive, infused with the raw energy of nature and the passion that goes along with this.

Heartfelt guitars and subtle synths provide the rasping vocals with a rich background on which to scream out into the heavens.

This sweeping music is perfect for Black Metal that’s inspired by nature and seeks to channel it via a darkened Metal route. Each of these songs is extremely well composed and gives the feeling of really being in the raw, dangerous outdoors.

This is the kind of epic, atmospheric music that has been characterised well by the Cascadian scene, even though this is from the UK. Fans of Wolves in the Throne Room, Altar of Plagues, Agalloch, Fen, Skagos, Fauna, Wodensthrone, (who share a member), etc., will be very at home with Ahamkara. However, whereas a lot of these bands have Post-Metal qualities to their sound, Ahamkara substitute these for shades of the mighty Emperor and thus are more “pure” Black Metal than not.

Really top quality work like this should always be supported. Listen and become enthralled.