Shroud of Despondency
Tied to a Dying Animal

Once again, I find myself being very tardy on my review of a Shroud of Despondency release, as with Pine back in 2012. Part of the reason this time is that Tied to a Dying Animal is an ambitious,  monstrous release, being 2 CDs covering an hour and a half and two competently different styles.  The other part is that I simply overlook many releases when they first show up in my mailbox. Well, hopefully, it’s not too late for this release, an early 2014 effort from a band that has 4 albums and a good amount of splits and other releases under their belt, but still somehow remain unsigned and independent.

As I mentioned, the album is split into 2 discs. The first disc, titled ‘For Innocence, Beauty, and Those Who Defile’, takes of where Pine left off seeing the band become increasingly savage and discordant in their black metal tropes. Woe would be a solid comparison in the band’s delivery of black metal. It’s brittle but sharp and at times visceral and melodic, certainly not despondent or shrouded in anything, as the band’s moniker certainly isn’t as fitting as it was nearly 15 years ago. 

The eight tracks and 52 minutes worth of music on the first disc is top notch, with a feral snarling mood that is grim but not too frosty. The first three tracks alone are all highlights as “A Man Can Dream”, “Clenched Jaw” and “Life of Fire” all spit from the speakers with surprising blackened furor aggression that part modern USBM and part classic 90’s second wave black metal. Then “Winter and Warmth” delivers a discordant, tumbling, toothy number that imbues a more chaotic death metal lean ( a more prominent  theme throughout this disc notably “A Tribute to Barren Land”) , down to more deeper growled vocals. “Long Hours” has a nifty mid paced break that’s moody and smartly malevolent, showing the band can have some restraint amid their new (ish) found furor and carries over into the twisty, atonal start of “What You Remember”, which cascades into a blistering, busy, high speed tremolo laced blast, before a truly jarring transition at 4:47 to a really chaotic tech death explosion.

The first disc would a worthwhile purchase by itself closing  dramatically with “(Over) Coming, Taking, Breeding” and its Cape Fear sample, but in an ode to the band’s earlier style and sound, the second, 9 track, 40 minute disc, titled  For Those Who Leave and Find Better Devils’, is purely acoustic and folky in its more delicate tones. The likes of In Gowan Ring, Tenhi, Empyrium, or Noekk or other neo folk bands on Prophecy Productions comes to mind. There are lyrics on  three of the tracks but they are more a poetic/spoken work companion to the acoustic guitars, except on ‘The Whore and the Politician” where some female vocals join in to the hypnotic fireside sway. It’s a nice, polar opposite companion piece to the first disc and gorgeous  background music, but not the disc I’ll reach for given a choice between the two.

It’s absolutely fucking criminal that these guys have been so overlooked and unsigned for so long, even since their more Agalloch sounding days, to the newer more raw sound and even more so in this sudden USBM explosion. But seeing as they don’t play show gaze or blackened crust or whatever buzz word trend scene is working now, we are left with a superb, hard working and prolific act left out in the cold and its a crying shame.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 25th, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: Joseph valicko

    I advise everyone who likes a nice change-up to grab this album! Between the vocals and music makes this a stand out album, I got it off bandcamp for a great price u do the same, these guys kill it


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