The metal industry is a world of amazement, the ability of artists to work on great releases within their own projects is only a mere shadow of what can happen when you bring together artists from different projects to collaborate on something that only hints at each respective group. Collectively, these so-called super-groups can unleash something unheard of, unique and lasting. ‘Doliu’ is an album that brings out the best in every member, wrapping into a melancholic package of despair, longing, pause and lifts every darker emotion to the surface of the listener’s being.
Before I get too far into it, you’ll need a measure of background into this monolithic monster of despaired beauty. Clouds is a collaboration between members of Shape of Despair, Eye of Solitude, Pantheist, Officium Triste, Imber Luminis, and Hamferd. That’s enough to get any doom metal enthusiast salivating over such a release. Understandably, there are those who would question the need for yet another super-group. Those questions come quickly and are squashed immediately, as the album’s opening track presents a smooth dirge broken by Daniel’s (Eye Of Solitude) forever powerful death growl. After lending his talents to bands like Unfathomable Ruination, his practiced vocals split the track in two, melding the ethereal melodies into despair and woe. If there is any indication of the quality this album holds, it is in the captivating lullaby “You Went So Silent”. The opening track mixes sad and simple tones with soft melodic piano touches. ‘Doliu’ bares all and leaves nothing to chance. With each member contributing a different aspect, it takes multiple visits to fully appreciate every layer, theme, and emotion. At times it’s hard to take in; don’t go searching for everything on a first listen. Instead, let it seep into your subconscious and find yourself drifting into the clouds.
If you’re familiar with any of the members other bands, you’ll be aware that Clouds’ soundscape will be complex, shaped by the simple idealism of the group. The bands bio describes ‘Doliu’:
The music is dedicated to departed ones, a solemn ode to pain and grief.
Even the artwork suggests an otherworldly embrace of emotive imagery. We all like to believe that our loved ones look down on us from above, watching us grow old, and moving from one generation into the next. It’s this creative awareness that sees this collaboration of able artists transform into something more. Not every one will agree with me, and I really don’t expect them to; it takes a certain type of person to appreciate doom as it is. For most, this will unfortunately be a one time, fleeting listen. It’s a shame for Clouds to have done something special here. It’s not tainted by cliches or high expectations. Think about it, how many people have heard of this project before they got signed to Domestic Genocide? How many people would have missed it but for this review and those to follow? The hype train may be small, but these guys definitely deserve the accolades they will receive.
The album continues in its wave of sheer enjoyment. ‘Doliu’ presents twists and turns captivating its recipients, throwing them down the tumultuous wave of sadness and separation. “The Deep Vast Emptiness” sits as both the album’s longest and most expansive track. Trudging riffs meet even vocal lines reminiscent of nostalgic progressive doom metal, mixed in with a swelling doom atmosphere. For an album with a run-time just short of an hour it’s easy to see why these long-ish tracks stand out. They allow all of the album’s best features to take center stage on a single track.
With three vocalists, there’s a huge shift in sound, and it shapes the record into a titanic display of Clouds’ soundscape. Overall, this is an album that should not be dismissed because you haven’t heard of it. If you’re a doom fan, Clouds’ roster of members should be all the incentive you need to pick this up. For those who will actually take the time to listen to ‘Doliu,’ they will be greeted with an album that highlights the year for extreme metal but also a recording that will stay relevant for many years to come. It’s hard to pin-point an actual single that highlights the album, especially considering that ‘Doliu’ is filled with quality tracks, all with the ability to earn the title. ‘Doliu’ is a sure contender for the number one metal album of the year.