Hope Drone
Hope Drone

Hope Drone is from Australia, but listening to their music, one could easily mistake them for a band from the U.S. Their 4-track debut EP demonstrates a bleak style of black metal strongly indebted to the Cascadian variety, specifically Wolves in the Throne Room and Altar of Plagues, played with surprising maturity and aplomb.

The album opens with blissed-out chords straight from the Deafheaven playbook, as one might expect from a black metal band whose name contains the word “Hope.” However, this first impression reverses when the song launches into sinister-sounding chords backed with blast beats, evoking darkness and power reminiscent of the early work of Altar of Plagues. The production is cavernous, with the refined fuzz of modern black metal. The vocals whoop and holler in the vein of suicidal black metal bands lending the music a more melancholy feel, akin to their countrymen Austere/Woods of Desolation.

This melancholy pervades the album and is what sets it apart from its peers. Where most post-black metal bands have found something from which they acquire hope, or at least meaning – a fairy world seen in dreams, the forests of the Pacific Northwest – Hope Drone is, ironically, hope-less. The second track and the centerpiece, “Finite,” is pure Wolves in the Throne Room worship. Drumming that alternates between blast beats and furious half time propels the darkly melodic tremolo riffs, while quiet, cleaner guitar breaks separate the sections. The vocals soaked in reverb screech above the melancholy riffs.

“Grains” slows the tempo at intervals, with some monolithic, vaguely sludgy riffing in the middle of the song, cementing the validity of the “post” tag. The final track, “Ash,” finishes the album on a dark note. It begins repetitively in a way similar to Drudkh circa Blood in Our Wells, lulling the listener into a trance, before the intense climax that first crescendoes with drum rolls leading into a blasting section, and then settles back down into a massive dirge.

The bottom line: although the sounds on this album are undoubtedly familiar, the execution is so good – and as a debut, no less – that it merits a serious listen. Hope Drone is a band to watch.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J. D. Anderson
November 26th, 2013

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