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4.00 | 2 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2014


Disc 1
1. A Man Can Dream
2. Clenched Jaw
3. The Life of Fire
4. Winter and Warmth
5. Long Hours
6. What You Remember
7. A Tribute to Barren Land
8. Over(Coming, Taking, Breeding)

Disc 2
1. Untamed Energy
2. The Sunset Through Sulfur
3. The Whore and the Politician
4. Pollen
5. Contradiction
6. Prominent Cross
7. Towards the Source of Wind
8. Coat of Arms
9. Family


-Rory Heikkila / Disc 1: Guitars, Disc 2: Guitars, Vocals, Piano, Teponaztli, Xylophone, Rainstick
- Tyler Okrzesik / Disc 1: Bass, Disc 2: Guitars (acoustic)
- Jon Liedtke / Disc 1: Guitars, Disc 2: Guitars, Synth, Theremin, Bodhran, Vocals (backing)
- Ron Blemberg / Disc 1: Vocals, Disc 2: Toms,
- Spencer Powers / Disc 1: Drums, Disc 2: Drums, Percussion, Noise, Tambourine,
- Jack Daniels / Bougarabou, Vocals (backing)

About this release

Self released, January 13th, 2014

Thanks to J-Man for the addition


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Tied to a Dying Animal (2014) is the fifth full-length album by US black metal act Shroud of Despondency. Tied to a Dying Animal is a two disc effort that uses each disc to explore two extremes of music; metal on disc one and folk music on disc two. Each disc carries its own title so in a sense Tied to a Dying Animal can be considered as two albums in one. There are some role changes for the musicians between the two discs as well and in general the folk disc uses a much wider range of instruments.

This is my first experience with the music of Shroud of Despondency but as a known metal act it can be assumed that the first disc, entitled For Innocence, Beauty, and Those Who Defile, of Tied to a Dying Animal is the more business as usual side of the album. The music is clearly a black metal affair but there are strong death metal elements to it as well, particularly through the use of deeper growling vocals which are quite the common occurrence. Some parts of the album are really quite progressive too, especially a track like Long Hours though I'm not sure I'd call this side of the album a progressive black metal album as such as I think that there's equal time where the band stick to basics. The music is generally well composed and enjoyable with some moments of true greatness to be found (the aforementioned Long Hours is an easy highlight) but there are also some moments where I just get the impression that Shroud of Despondency aren't doing all that much that I haven't heard before. It takes a couple of tracks before it really starts to pick up and deliver, in my view.

That brings me to the second disc of Tied to a Dying Animal, entitled For Those Who Leave and Find Better Devils. It's not an uncommon thing that Shroud of Despondency have done here by exploring a different direction although it's less common to see a release like Tied to a Dying Animal where it's all presented as one album but I guess that's the benefit of releasing your album yourself; you get to make all the rules. Opeth were going to do this with Deliverance (2002) and Damnation (2003) but ultimately didn't because of their record label. The music here is acoustic folk music with a focus on instrumental work though there are vocals also used. I'd call it dark folk because of the atmosphere, which is quite fitting to put alongside black metal in my opinion but that's where an inconsistency arises with Tied to a Dying Animal, the metal disc is a quite direct and intense black metal effort that doesn't seem to have much time for atmosphere. I guess that's intentional given the nature of the album as a whole, one direct and heavy record and one mellow atmospheric record, but it's just the first of things that suggest to me that though Tied to a Dying Animal is a solid effort regarding both discs, it's much more of a missed chance overall.

Indeed I think Tied to a Dying Animal is a case where the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts. I like the metal disc. I like the folk disc. I'd prefer to hear them clash rather than be separated as they are, something I have the impression could have resulted in a much more interesting, coherent and consistent single disc album, as both discs tend to have their weaker moments. With that said despite my feelings on what could have been and a few ups and downs Shroud of Despondency have a really good album here, so I think that rating it at less than 4 stars would be doing it a disservice. Despite its faults this is definitely an album worth owning if you enjoy black metal acts who like to experiment and explore outside ideas.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven:
Shroud of Despondency's sound takes inspiration from an eclectic pool of sources, but if one were to deconstruct their music into only two basic elements, black metal and acoustic folk would be the most important. 2014's Tied to a Dying Animal explores this idea of 'musical deconstruction' in an album format. Spread out over a lengthy double-disc playing time, Shroud of Despondency's fifth observation separates the two major aspects of their music, effectively resulting in the band's heavy and light sounds residing in total isolation from one another. Not unlike Opeth's Damnation and Deliverance duo, one disc of Tied to a Dying Animal sounds nothing like the other, and the the result is nothing short of an intriguing experiment that highlights Shroud of Despondency's competence as both a pure extreme metal act and a darkly contemplative folk act.

The first disc showcases Shroud of Despondency's most lethal take on black metal yet, and if I'm being honest, it is also their best in this style to date. Death metal plays a pretty big part on this disc too, and using a term like 'deathened black metal' wouldn't be out of the question as there are plenty of times where you'll be reminded of Morbid Angel's hellish riffs or Immolation's dark brutality. Even in the absence of acoustic segments, the band manages to incorporate a decent number of melodic leads and catchy riffs to grab onto - not unlike the Norwegian bands Ancient or Enslaved, Shroud of Despondency's music contains generally melodic compositions amidst all of the cacophony. A track like "The Life of Fire" with its darkly majestic lead guitar is an example of melodic black metal done right!

On the second disc of Tied to a Dying Animal, the listener is treated to dark and melancholic folk music with diverse instrumentation. It actually sounds quite similar to Borknagar's Origin album at times, and that's certainly a good thing in my book. The compositions here are moody and contemplative, and although folk elements were often present in Shroud of Despondency's music, here they are more developed than ever before. Every track works as both a unique standalone piece and part of a conceptual whole. Although Shroud of Despondency doesn't always appeal to "metal naysayers", fans of dark folk ought to at least check out this disc. It shows a band that can hold its own with some of the genre's best.

At the end of the day, I think Shroud of Despondency's best albums are the ones that seamlessly unite different styles throughout the duration of one CD, but Tied to a Dying Animal is still an excellent release. Shroud of Despondency isn't content with staying in one place for very long, and there's no doubt that plenty of musical growth can be heard on this observation. Tied to a Dying Animal contains some of the band's finest material to date, and although its lengthy duration can make for a seemingly daunting listen, there's enough variation here to keep things fully engaging from start to finish.

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