SHROUD OF DESPONDENCY — Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion (review)

SHROUD OF DESPONDENCY — Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion album cover Album · 2011 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Vehemency
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.
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