Shroud of Despondency
Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion
Style: Depressive Black Metal
Release date: 12 February, 2011
Playing time: 57:13

Shroud of Despondency's Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion is a true gem, in the vein of Agalloch, featuring haunting and depressive acoustic segments that meld with technical black metal riffing.

The album begins with "Looking Out, Seeing One Last Ray of Light", the first of many strong acoustic passages on the album, featuring dual guitars that build until the clean vocals kick in near the end, supported by a cool flute melody in the background.

"Parting of the Way" might be the best track on the album, starting out with some death riffing, melodic leads and screaming vocals (which do serve to leave you feeling a little uneasy). The middle features a combo of underlying screams with some clean vocals. It picks up the pace once again, with black metal riffing and a solid bassline. The track ends as it switches to another acoustic part which builds in intensity as a spoken word excerpt plays above it, in which a bi-polar man tells of the experience of an aborted suicide attempt.

Overall, the 3 acoustic tracks on the album all have a different feel and each integrates different instruments (such as flute on "Looking Out..."; strings and piano on "Flicker...") to add a great deal of life and emotion to the tracks.

On the metal tracks, black metal riffing carries the load for the most part, though there are a few spots here and there where more standard death riffing is incorporated to shake things up. The riffs are extremely inventive, and at times themes are built up in epic fashion (though this is more common in the acoustic tracks).

The only thing critical I can really say about the album is that in some spots the vocals (both clean and death) are merely average, but they never detract from anything and more frequently they bring an added element. Aside from that, I can assure that this is going to be one of the most interesting and worthwhile metal albums you would hear all year.


01. Seeing One Last Ray of Light

02. Homo Homini Lupus

03. Parting of the Way

04. Sybil
05. Sullen Murmur Oppressive Stillness
06. Flicker Of The Ardent Light
07. To Glisten In All The Colors Of Distress

Label: Self released
Promotion: Clawhammer Promotion
Artwork rating: 32/100
Reviewed by: The Rev
Date: 30 January, 2011