Hope Drone has a lot of genres packed into their sound, but blackened/ atmospheric/ post/ sludge is too many words. None of these labels are necessarily wrong, but I feel like the best way to describe them is as a post metal band. They are in fact a pretty awesome post metal band from Australia. It seems like some great bands are coming from Australia these days.
On their latest album, Cloak of Ash, Hope Drone seems to alternate their playing styles between black metal riffing and plodding, contemplative post metal. Using tried and true methods of building tension and atmosphere, typical to post metal, they are able to create some epic releases of energy and emotion with their black metal portions.
Now, let me reiterate that Hope Drone is a post metal band. Even when they are using blast beats and tremolo picking, they are still playing post metal and post rock progressions. They do a better job than bands like Vattnet Viskar, Deafheaven, and Ghost Bath at playing black metal. These bands are really just post rock and shoe gaze with the occasional black metal style of play. I actually enjoy Vattnet Viskar and Deafheaven, but the evil and extreme atmosphere of black metal is nowhere to be found. I have tried to listen to Ghost Bath, and after hearing them and reading their interviews, I have determined that they are a joke of a post rock band calling themselves a depressive black metal band. But that is another topic.
Back to Hope Drone. I am hearing a great deal of sludge and slow motion post metal, much slower than most post metal bands would venture. These guys really know how to compose some amazing atmospheres with their sound, and they know how to push their riffs to the max. Somber and heavy guitars are layered with melody using delayed guitars and tremolo picked lines. I wish that Hope Drone would drop the black metal style all together, and only play their post metal stuff, because they really excel at it. I think that all of their material would sound better in post metal mode. Hope Drone is just as good as Cult of Luna and Neurosis when they want to be, but perhaps lacking the variation in sound.
Throughout Cloak of Ash, Hope Drone evokes powerful, dark, and brooding emotions. With song titles like “Unending Grey”, “The Waves Forever Shatter Upon Our Shores”, and “Carried Apart By the Ceaseless Tides”, it is an expression of futility. The songs are quite long and it is easy to get lost in the music. The awesome cover art also paints a great picture of the inevitable churning, and swirling atmosphere Hope Drone convey so well.
(7 Tracks, 77:11)