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3.67 | 3 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2011


1. Seeing One Last Ray Of Light (5:09)
2. Homo Homini Lupus (8:07)
3. Parting Of The Way (10:48)
4. Sybil (5:38)
5. Sullen Murmur Oppressive Stillness (8:21)
6. Flicker Of The Ardent Light (8:00)
7. To Glisten In All The Colors Of Distress (11:09)

Total Time 57:12


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About this release

Self-released on February 12th, 2011.

Thanks to Vehemency for the addition and adg211288 for the updates


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Shroud of Despondency has already been around since the end of last century but has always remained obscure, and I’m hoping that will change when their second album Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion gets some proper promotion, because the band is definitely worth of the attention of all those into black metal with largely progressive or experimental tendencies.

Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion is one hell of a 57-minute ride through a plethora of influences I’m able to spot therein, from the acoustic folky beginning track ”Seeing One Last Ray of Light” and ”Flicker of the Ardent Light” that sound very close to Agalloch, to the fittingly named ”Sullen Murmur Oppressive Stillness” with its maniacal Shining influences. Not to forget all those Drudkh melodies on ”Sybil” with the ambience of Godspeed You! Black Emperor in the background... And what's best, the band sounds natural and plays without any technical gimmicks, despite the fact that these aren’t really simple songs, both compositionally and sound-wise.

The production is warm and it’s a pleasure to hear so detailed acoustic guitar sound, for instance. There’s only a few glitches I can mention of the album, like the clean vocal delivery of Michale Jurek that doesn’t always go so hand in hand with the beautiful music behind. Nothing to complain about the growls or screams, anyhow. Another thing that I could see slightly reducing the overall score of the album is the amount of influences it takes from other groups out there, perhaps lacking its own identity a little. But when it’s all performed so well, I don’t see this as a major problem.

Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion is definitely worth checking out if you like compromises in your black metal - if black metal is a fitting genre for this at all. Even if not THE most impressive album of the year so far, remembering e.g. Fen’s Epoch, this album is a clear example of a record that proudly stands above the masses of mediocrity.
The Block
Seeing one last ray of light…

I was pretty much about to give up on black metal, but then I listened to this album and I gained a whole new perspective on black metal. I still am not a huge fan, but this album has turned me onto, hopefully, a very good genre. Shroud of Despondency mixes heavy, dark riffs with long drawn out atmospheric chords to make this album very nice and soothing, while still being dark and dreary. In “Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion”, Shroud of Despondency makes great use of mixing different genres that include folk and a little bit of progressive to go along with black metal.

One thing that I still have a hard time getting over is the almost screamy vocals. In some of the acoustic songs such as “Flicker of the Ardent Light” and “Seeing One Last Ray of Light” the vocals are nowhere to be found and it adds up to a very enjoyable sound. The guitars are especially good on these tracks, showcased of course since it is all instrumental. These songs are the ones that you just want to sit down, close your eyes, and just imagine as you listen to them. They are so soft and smooth, contrasting sharply with the other songs a lot, but they still somehow blend and mix in. Shroud of Despondency also has some heavier songs, and even though they are very good instrumentally, the vocals detract just a little. My favorite of the heavier songs is the epic, rounding out at 12 minutes, “To Glisten In All the Colors of Distress”. It has superb drumming and guitar work to go along with the vocals. The vocals in this one really blend well with every thing, but on a level that makes it creepy and a little disturbing. But, that is the feel that I have come to expect from black metal, and this album delivers it seamlessly.

The production on this album is absolutely fantastic! It blends the darker, heavier side with the lighter side very well and gives the guitars quite a boost in most of the songs. The feel of this album is somewhat light at times, but also has its darker side.

Throughout this album I never once got bored. It stayed original and very good throughout, which is a huge plus to any album I listen to. The cover of this album says it all: dark, dreary, and very interesting. I recommend this to anyone, like me, who is hesitant about black metal; it will change your mind. For their very good release Shroud of Despondency gets 3.5 stars.
Some albums are perfect to listen to on a cold, rainy day - just turn off the lights, put on a good pair of headphones, and simply let the music immerse you. Shroud of Despondency's Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion is one of those albums that is perfect to experience in the previous scenario. This is a bleak, dark, and beautiful album that will take many spins to understand, but it's ultimately a rewarding listen that toys with your emotions and keeps you coming back for more. This band manages to seamlessly blend acoustic folk music with raging, evil black metal - and the end result is nothing short of satisfying. This isn't a happy album - from what I've gathered from the lyrics, it's mostly focused on death, depression, and suicide, but it further expands on the unbeatable atmosphere that Shroud of Despondency has created here. If you want to hear top-notch black metal that still has a gentler side, Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion is one of the most recommendable albums I can think of from the last 10 years.

The music on Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion is an atmospheric mix of black metal and folk music, somewhat in the vein of Agalloch. There are also some more progressive touches that nod towards bands like Enslaved or Opeth. Songs like "Seeing One Last Ray of Light", "Sybil", or "Flicker of the Ardent Light" accentuate Shroud of Despondency's acoustic side, whereas songs like "Homo Homini Lupus" or "Sullen Murmur Oppressive Stillness" show their heavier sound. The variation between the hypnotic acoustic hymns and raging black metal fury is part of what makes Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion such an excellent album. Never once on this entire hour-long opus did I notice a "samey" feeling. This band manages to seamlessly blend angry and morose music, resulting in a bleak and depressing black metal masterpiece.

The production on Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion is absolutely killer. It conveys Shroud of Despondency's heavier side perfectly while also sounding excellent when it comes to acoustic sections. This reminds me of a warm sounding 70's prog rock record, which of course is a good thing.

Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion is a stellar album by Shroud of Despondency that is sure to please people who aren't allergic to some prog and folk in their black metal. I must confess that I was completely blown away by Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion - this album is mandatory listening on a dark, rainy day. I will go with a big 4 star rating here, though I was tempted to go higher. Fans of atmospheric and, dare I say, "beautiful" black metal will definitely want to put this high on their wish list.

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