Written by: The Soliloquist
In my opinion, funeral doom is not only one of the heaviest genres of metal, it is also probably the most suitable genre for evoking emotions in the listener. While those two aspects do not necessarily coincide in other genres of music, they do in funeral doom. I guess what I am trying to say here is that the heaviness of funeral doom and its emotional impact on the listener are two dimensions of one phenomenon. It’s the substance of the music that is heavy, both sonically and emotionally. Of course, this only is the case if the songwriting allows for it to happen. Funeral doom can be beautiful and devastating, hopeful and crushing, dark and uplifting all at the same time, if it is well-composed. That’s what I love about the genre--its ability to confuse and exert your emotions and leave you completely shattered in the end. Clouds manage to do just that on their latest album, Dor.
Clouds are a relatively young international band currently based in London, UK, and founded in 2013, whose music can be described as atmospheric funeral/death doom metal. Their compositions focus a lot on the atmosphere of the music, and the band uses plenty of musical elements such as ambient samples and orchestral instruments to create said atmosphere. Their deeply melancholic mixture of death and doom metal already impressed me when I heard their debut album Doliu, which is one of the best funeral/death doom records I’ve heard to this day. On their third album Dor, released today, Clouds once again offer an absolutely crushing and beautiful album that no fan of the genre should miss out on.
Dor lives off the contrast between atmospheric, floating orchestral/synth soundscapes, beautiful melodies and crushingly heavy riffs, clean harmonious singing and devastating low death growls. Dark and light, hope and desperation collide in these compositions. The lyrics talk of disappointment, disillusioning and doubt--they tell the story of a soul losing a loved one, and as a result falling into a pit of crushing sadness. Depression, despair and darkness characterize the mood of the lyrics. But at the same time there is beauty in these songs. There is wonder and hope piercing through the desperation, like sunlight through a thick wall of clouds. This album is a truly beautiful piece of art that leads you into darkness and transforms it into light.
The album is absolutely wonderfully written. The incorporation of orchestral elements into the compositions is as close to perfect as it probably can be. The use of the cello on the title track is only one example of a near perfect marriage of death-doom and classical music. Generally, the timing of calmer, more melodic and heavier sections is fantastic and very effective. I was already impressed by the way Evoken balanced such different elements and moods on their latest album Hypnagogia, but I actually think Clouds did an even better job here. You are thrown into darkness, picked up again, elevated to the light and thrown back down again by this album. It’s beautiful and painful and beautifully painful.
As if the fantastic music by the band wasn't enough, Dor features guest vocals by artists such as Gogo Melone (Aeonian Sorrow), Pim Blankenstein (Officium Triste), Sylvaine, Mihu (Abigail), Kayla Dixon (Witch Mountain) and Caleb Bergen (Sleepwalkers,) who all do a great job here. The album feels very thought-through and fleshed out. It’s well-rounded and logical in its development. I really can’t say anything negative about this album, except one or two spoken word sections that come off a little cheesy (I had the same complaint about the latest Evoken album, so it might be a general issue I have with the genre). Apart from that, it’s pretty much a perfect melodic/atmospheric funeral/death doom album and you should definitely check it out if you are a fan of anything melancholic, emotional, and dark.
Written by: The Soliloquist
As you are undoubtedly aware, a team of battle-scarred (yet remarkably personable) scribes have recently moved into our humble Village. First out of the gate is the mighty Ancient Hand. Best give him your undivided attention voluntarily, lest he demand it. - Mgmt
Black Tongue’s sound is made to be the heaviest thing in the known universe. There’s no flash or unnecessary showiness in their music; it simply wants to be as heavy as it possibly can. On their last record (2015’s “The Unconquerable Dark”), Black Tongue did an incredible job blending funeral doom and deathcore to create a deep, heavy, and monumental record that bridged the gap between two very different sub-genres of metal. Now, in 2018, Black Tongue have undertaken a follow-up release that seeks to solidify their sound and add new elements on top of it.
Right as the record kicks off, it’s clear that Black Tongue is trying some new things out. The ambient guitar work that builds to an ominous breakdown drips with dark atmosphere. The opening track itself, “The Eternal Return to Ruin,” features lyrics that elevate the album to heavenly heights, while also featuring vocals that sound as though they were birthed from the deepest pit of Hell. The lyrical themes are consistent throughout much of the release; the afterlife, pain, death, hopelessness, and the abuse of God and people are all used to create one of the darkest records of the year.
This record also features heavy influences from black metal that the band pushes to the forefront of many songs. Most notably, the beginning of “The Cathedral” burns with the same intensity of Norway’s churches in the early 90's.
In addition to wearing black metal influences on their sleeve, Black Tongue covers Celtic Frost’s classic “A Dying God Coming Into Human Flesh,” and, to my surprise, they do a wonderful job. Singing is retained for this song (its only instance on the entire record), but Black Tongue still manages to make it their own with their signature sound towards the end of the track. Other songs to note are the punishing “Contrapasso” and the crushing “Parting Soliloquy.” The former also makes use of black metal influences from shrieks to tremolo-picked guitars, and the latter features some of the most haunting vocals I have heard all year with the repetition of “Please don’t leave me here” layered over harsh noise that sends shivers down my spine after multiple listens.
Overall, this record brings Black Tongue to the next level. It is very clear that they mean business, and their goal of blending these two seemingly contrasting sounds of deathcore and doom metal can still have even more sounds added into it. With a release this varied in metal influences, lyrical quality, and consistency between songs, I think it’s safe to say that Black Tongue have created one of the most punishing, dark, and stellar metal albums of the year.
Written by: Ancient Hand
A certain groggy-eyed, highfalutin' peasantry