Hope Drone – Cloak of Ash

I hate kids at libraries. I really do. No, scratch that. I hate the parents of kids at libraries. Why? Cause they can’t fucking control their kid from knocking down a stack of books and then leaving the mess to the librarians to clean up cause we all know a suburban mother of three doesn’t know how to organize nor does she have time for it. She has to get home to watch her latest bullshit TV show on ABC while making Hamburger Helper for her family because she can't cook for shit. On a similar note, we have Hope Drone and their latest effort Cloak of Ash. I chose to review this monstrous album for several reasons 1) I loved Hope Drone’s self-titled from January of 2013. 2) I recently started working at an Australian bar in Seattle so do the math, gotta review an Aussie band. 3). Fucking Hope Drone. 4) I recently re-watched Mad Max: Fury Road and if you haven't seen it, go do it.

  

The atmosphere is real. As the title suggests, it's like looking over a world of ash. Whatever the cause, death has come and humanity must survive. Listening feels like a journey - almost like reading an epic book. It builds, it collapses, it ebbs and flows through feelings of gray, violence, death, and redemption. WITNESS ME! Cloak of Ash feels like the loving child born out of the marriage between Mad Max: Fury Road with its vast, apocalyptic landscapes and The Road with its melancholy and absolute bleakness. Just take out the insanity of Mad Max and the inevitable post-film depression of The Road and voila, Cloak of Ash. To create such a twisted, beautiful feeling, they applied multiple genres including black, sludge, drone, and doom. Vicious tremolo picking, crushing heaviness, insane drumming, and powerful, atmospheric passages make this album span almost 80 minutes.  Lyrically, it's very bleak but like many books, there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel. With the last line on the last song, “Impermanence is to be as one against the world,” suggesting that this cloak of ash, this ravaged world, will heal in time. And just like the War Boys and all their fun phrases, "I live, I die, I live again."

 

In prepping for this review, I read a few interviews and reviews (although I can’t remember the sites) and the masterminds behind the album aimed for creating a sound that was reproducible during concerts and very ‘live’. This, to me, is a mix. It can be good because bands sounding the same live as they do on the album makes the concert all the more special. However, I personally have had a hard time understanding the vocalist throughout and with such epic proportions, having greater clarity would have been beneficial to the journey. But like many concerts, the vocalist is often unclear so it is a trade-off hence we go from the good to the bad.

 

Overall, I’m excited for what Hope Drone has in the future. It reminds me of Altar of Plagues and their album Mammal in terms of scope and size (except Mammal was just over 50 minutes) which is a great thing because Altar of Plagues is probably one of the best atmospheric black metal bands in the last ten years. If time serves us well, Hope Drone may be able to fill the hole Altar of Plagues left us to cope with and show us even greater things.

 

Official Hope Drone Facebook

Written by Cole Olson

Hope Drone: Cloak of Ash
Relapse Records
4.5 / 5