The RMR crew gets a great many review requests of all sorts – every friggin’ day. This means that our pipeline is always desperately overflowing and it is just not physically possible to look at all of that goodness.
So, sometimes and somewhat in desperation, we just reach into the vast depths of this heap of potential wordsmithing and pull one request out at random.
Sounds like Black Metal, check. From Australia, that’s truly interesting, check. Loads of growls in a dense sonic environment, check. So, we let ‘er rip for good to find out what’s really there. Then some twenty minutes later you realize that your attention just got hijacked by some real raw sounds from the pit.
Hope Drone and their newest very black record Void Lustre just did that to me. And they’re indeed from the land of crocodiles and not from the cold North of Scandinavia. Well, they say that music happens in the subconscious. And this is where this one goes straight for sure.
Whilst tremolo picking and the typical drumming contest continually washes over the audience, this record is not your down-home Black Metal offering. Already the 13.5-minute excellent debut track Being Into Nothingness drives this point home beautifully.
Hope Drone boast some sort of a super-tight Black Metal piece sprinkled with Post Black Metal bits, some atmospherics, and strangely dissonant ambients. A bit like Alcest‘s blackgazing, only on way much tougher terrain. All of that sticky blackened goo digs deep into things that Death Metal often occupied, but here disturbingly dwells in its own space. But also gets you these pseudo or Post Hardcore screams at times that I found pretty interesting.
And what is it with these landscapes and places of magick, black or otherwise?
Void Lustre seems to depict something cold and wild, a bit along the lines of what Ashbringer already did. Or the fantasy lands Sojourner like to describe in all their Lovecraftian splendor. With Dodecahedron as a dreadful last, in their swamps of terrible bloody horrors lurking in the mist.
But all of them have one thing in common. It is that their harsh sounds seem to invite something primeval to the visible areas of consciousness. And sometimes, this is a thing that should remain where it is.
Void Lustre gorges with passages of solidly structured Black Metal that suddenly veer into bursts of Atmospheric Black Metal. Albeit those are very short forays. And all that drumming, riffing, and rasping really does not leave too much space for ambients and atmospherics to thrive in. On the other hand, I truly appreciate the tasty dissonance in many of the murky areas of this blackened puzzle.
Yet sometimes, the band drones on a tad too much about the soundscape. With tons of repetitions that seem to lead to the road to nowhere. Also, this tendency to overwhelm the mix with too much noise all over the place does not really serve a lot of purpose. Extreme Metal bands sometimes use noise to build a menacing aura, yet here this often sounds like a square peg in a round hole.
So, methinks that some deft pruning might have cut some of the long 63 minutes away from the album, true. But as a result, ye all would have found a crisper version of Void Lustre. One that really would talk to the quality department in concise soundbites.
That said, many a listener may find it a tad difficult to stick around for the full length of the piece. The record is that brutally complex – and indeed harsh. But I beg you do. Because In Shifting Lights really showcases what this band can do.
Yep, last track equal best track.
Hope Drone start a furious 17-minute firework of Black and Post Black Metal that meanders into ambient and atmospheric soundscapes. And back again. This is also this unholy space where the screams morph more and more into those pseudo metalcore yells. All of that on a hotbed of delicious dissonance that made us remember other Extreme Metal bands of the same ilk.
True, Void Lustre may be a tad too long and sometimes lack some focus. However, and after a few listens, the album turns out to be a packed piece of tempered, steely metal that the RMR deck crew likes to return to. One that is tightly recorded at a level of workmanship that one can hardly find fault with.
In the end, Hope Drone created an Extreme Metal album of amazing quality. One that continues to shine darkly until it grandly ends tilling its sumptuous, swampy soundscapes. And once it does, you will find yourself stranded, wanting more.