Shroud of Despondency - Dark Meditations...

This Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s quintet plays a folky, dark and melodic black-metal style in the same wavelength as their compatriots Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room. Not that you could tell by listening to opening song “Seeing One Last Ray of Light”, an entirely acoustic song with despondent melodies and clean vocalizations that probably has more things in common with The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” than anything the two aforementioned acts ever put out.
It’s only the second song “Homo Homini Lupus” that the comparisons to Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room start to make sense. The music here mirrors some similar traits, the rhythms are engaging and varied, the guitars are thick and reveal some progressive leanings, there’s also some captivating solo work, and the overall atmosphere is utterly dark and powerful. Following song, “Parting of the Way” offers more of the same, yet in a more rudimentary approach with crude and simple riffs intertwined with some twin guitar melodies, topped off with some vile and anguished BM screams. Then we are back to a more serene and folky ambient with “Sybil” with the band returning to an acoustic format, this time resorting to what sounds like a blend of bongo drums, accordion and cello.
None of these dark tunes are exactly innovative or essential, and I believe that most of the latter day work of Agalloch tops most of it, but on the overall “Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion” is an enjoyable record capable of pleasing fans of the more emotional, dark and creative side of black-metal. (6.8/10)

Alex Grimm

For fans of: Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room, Alcest, Drudkh