SHROUD OF DESPONDENCY - Pine CD
Genre: Black Metal
There's a quote from an indie rock loser scribe I refer to a lot which states "in order for black metal to stay relevant in needs to progress." That person really meant that black metal needs to be less metal and more dull, redundant crap like what indie rock represents. If black metal is going to be progressive (which it already has done many times before you indie rock idiots) then it's best when it uses the tools at hand which so happen to be made of or with metal. Wisconsin's SHROUD OF DESPONDENCY knows that all too well and on this release it shows.
Not willing to be complacent with present day USBM cliches the band incorporates an incredible amount of lush folk structures, old school death metal, funeral doom and ambient prog elements to their sound. All of these things have been used prominently by the blackened hordes from Europe. To hear them all combined within the framework of an American band's release is somewhat amazing. The end result is a unique musical tapestry displaying various textures and atmosphere.
On here the band layers their dark sound with keyboard interludes, effects as well as spoken word samples. This does not bleed well from one cut to the other but it certainly shakes the foundation and adds variety from the more blasted cuts. The more I listen to this the more I consider this band an Americanized version of SIGH, SHINING and to some degree TAAKE. Although this is far from being a bastardized version of those others. When the band starts employing thrash riffs in a few cuts like on for example "Nameless End" or even the hardcore blasts in "Light Words / Dark Graves", it's clear where these guys are coming from.
Pine definitely comes across as a deep conceptual piece with the goal of creating a aural landscape of bleak despair as well as mental anguish while using as many musical aesthetics as possible. The spoken word pieces left me questioning my own sanity of when I speak out loud in a situation of alienation. The final cut "The Unchaining of an Animal" blew my mind when I first heard it. I'm not gonna ruin the surprise but I'll just say it's as significant as the sound of a shotgun blast at the end of a sad drinking song. Even with all of that there are some things about this release which are not so enjoyable.
SHROUD OF DESPONDENCY do throw too much at the listener in their compositions which tends to throw you off interest. The production alone is deliberately raw and demands you to focus intently on the music as if in a vacuum. One moment of distraction leaves you to stop and start over. It was like watching a movie after certain scenes had been deleted leaving you guessing. Although that could lead to many more listens which just might be what this band had in mind. It all reminds me of an old man I knew years ago. I'd ask the guy a serious question and he'd give me an off the wall answer but the look in his eyes told me he was hiding a lot more than he was willing to expose.