Black Clouds Gathering

Written by: MST on 19/08/2013 15:55:36

Atmospheric black metal as a genre has experienced a notable rise in popularity in recent years, both in terms of bands and fans. New names are popping up all over the world, and from a country mostly known for its brutal death metal I am delighted to have discovered Vallendusk, a young atmospheric black metal band hailing from Jakarta. Formed in 2011, Vallendusk released an EP in 2012 before recording this year's "Black Clouds Gathering", their debut full-length album. Clocking in at 67 minutes, the 7-track album is no easy listen, but it's surprisingly easy on the ears nonetheless.

One thing that separates "Black Clouds Gathering" from other albums in the genre is the surprisingly optimistic soundscape. It's perfect for these summer days where you don't necessarily feel like listening to depressive music on your daily commute. Album opener "Fragments Of Light" more or less sums up the entire album right off the bat: drums ranging from double kick to blasting, keyboards laying an amazing atmosphere in the background and Rizky Maulana's sort of laid back shrieks, but most importantly, the AMAZING melodic leads that spearhead the music all the way through the album. The talent shown by lead guitarist Valendino Mithos is especially prominent in the highlights listed below such as the aforementioned album opener or the brilliant "Shades Of Grey". But you could really find those absolutely spellbinding riffs anywhere on the album, and this brings me to my next point: "Black Clouds Gathering" is an impressively consistent 67-minute album, especially considering the fact that it's the band's first full-length effort. Some may argue that the album lacks variety, but on the contrary I'd call that lack of variety a clear red thread in the album, and the fact that Vallendusk do not stray from their path with this formula that works so incredibly well makes this album an astoundingly beautiful listen.

By now it should be clear that I love this album, but of course I have to touch on the few negative points I do have in the end. Rizky's lyrics are written in English, but it's easy to spot that English isn't his first language. Just look at these two lines from the opening track: "Floating around a thousand of dust" and "Into the darkness skies". Ah well, I'm not going to hold that against Rizky or Vallendusk as a whole, because although the vocals are fairly typical and nothing special, they fit the atmosphere of the album perfectly. The other point of criticism I have is the 13-minute closing track "Land of The Lurking Twilight". For the most part it continues in the vein of the previous tracks, but the last three minutes features some interesting samples as well as what I'm guessing is some sort of traditional Indonesian singing. The only real negative thing about this is that some parts of the singing disrupts the rhythm and natural flow of the music, but other than that, it just comes as a huge surprise after 64 minutes of straight atmospheric black metal. What follows though is a quiet outro with acoustic guitar laying a foundation behind soothing melodic leads that perfectly end this wonderful album.

But the criticism above doesn't really bother me much. I have completely fallen in love with "Black Clouds Gathering" to the point where I'm doubting my ability to properly grade the album. I feel like I shouldn't praise them as much as I do, but with their debut album Vallendusk have hit my taste in atmospheric black metal absolutely right and thus "Black Clouds Gathering" is most likely going straight to my Top 5 of this year.


Download: Fragments Of Light, To Wonder and Beyond, Shades Of Grey, Among The Giants
For The Fans Of: Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone, Drudkh
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date: 17.04.2013
Pest Productions

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