“Watching the day in its final turning, from half-light to last light and into the gloaming; beyond twilight, there is no dawn”. – ‘The World Inherited’
Hope Drone have not outwardly declared the release of their second full length ‘Cloak of Ash’ with apocalyptic overtures, however it does not require a vivid imagination to associate the atmosphere, art work and lyrical content on this absorbing album with a disastrous future; one involving widespread destruction, devastation and misery.
The Australian quartet finished the recording of ‘Cloak of Ash’ in April 2014, the delay in releasing due to Relapse Records signaling interest and eventually signing the band in October 2014. This is a significant signing for an independent collective out of Australia where atmospheric blackened sludge is not a normal artistic output. Hope Done released a self-titled LP in 2013, which was critically well received, (read the Sonic Sensory review HERE), ‘Cloak of Ash’ is a step forward from that release, with the band taking their time crafting lengthy and dense soundscapes, ensuring the live aspect of the sound resonates on the record while fermenting depth at each moment.
There is a lot going on within the structures of each of the 7 tracks on ‘Cloak of Ash’, and while there is a general isolating tone, the hypnotic qualities of the music and lush atmospheric range can create an uplifting emotional experience as well. Stylistically the band do not like to label themselves as Black Metal, and with good reason; sure there are fast tremolo sections and blast beats but there is so much more that extends outside this genre, the atmosphere is atypical to that space, the vocals are more akin to hardcore and the texture of the recording fits well within the sludge realm. Really, Hope Drone just play expressive and heavy music.
Hope Drone toured with Neurosis in 2014, and while the record had been finished by then, it is hard not to hear the similarities with the Eye of Every Storm on ‘Every End Is Fated In Its Beginning’ the drum patterns in particularly are entrancing in nature, creating an overpowering sense of weight and tension. 20 minute opener “The Unending Grey’ flows like a gathering storm front, festering with potency alongside precipitating ambiance and a convergance of instruments, creating enough despair to rain ash, the track starts off with pace, energy and desperation, only to be subdued with an Isis like moody reverb section before a gradual build whereby each instrument climaxes at almost exhaustion.
Cloak of Ash is a long album (77 minutes), so you are going to need plenty of patience to persevere with the full experience; but it’s that experience that Hope Drone are imploring you have. There are reference points here to guide you towards their world, but it is not a black and white excursion, the light and melody can be unearthed at moments like the earth shattering ambient climax to ‘The Waves Forever Shatter Upon Our Shores’, with each listen you can expose more and more.
The technical aspects of Cloak of Ash were handled by Christopher Brownbill (produced and mixed) while mastered by Brad Boatright (YOB, High on Fire) and this investment has done wonders to the outcome. The vocals are mixed below the guitar and drums, which adds to the distance of the sound structure. Incredible care has clearly been taken to ensure that each instrument is not lost within the depth, but never outweighing the others, and for a sound with so much extent, it still sounds organic which will translate well when played live.
‘Cloak Of Ash’ is a very good album, and worthwhile checking out for fans of all the above mentioned genre’s. Where Hope Drone take their sound after this will be the challenge, bands can back themselves into a sound that makes the next step forward too monumental to overcome, now with major label support let’s hope the future is bright.
1 – Unending Grey
2 – Riverbeds Hewn In Marrow
3 – The World Inherited
4 – The Chords That Thrum Beneath The Earth
5 – Every End is Fated In Its Beginning
6 – The Waves Forever Shatter Upon Our Shores
7 – Carried Apart By The Ceaseless Tides