Cloak - To Venomous Depths 01I like myself a good homage, but Atlanta, Georgia upstarts Cloak are a bit of a weird one. Admittedly, I’m being presumptuous by calling them an homage act but, man, does their debut album ever recall memories of Tribulation’s two-years-young The Children of the Night, and the fact that the band’s first demo dropped six months after that album’s release doesn’t help my suspicions. That being said, To Venomous Depths doesn’t feel at all like a cash-in. Even if many of Tribulation’s core components are intact, Cloak differentiates its approach just enough to make for a unique black ‘n’ roll record. Though mostly successful, there are problems endemic to TVD’s formula that bar me from fully enjoying it, even if it comes frustratingly close to being truly good.

The Tribulation comparisons are solely the product of Cloak’s instrumental execution. Much of the guitar layering and the doomy, gloomy note progressions feel heavily inspired by Tribulation, and aggressive metal rhythms are largely substituted with traditional rock grooves in a similar fashion. Outside of the instrumentation and the growly vocals, however, the similarities essentially end. Aesthetically speaking, To Venomous Depths is a much more pervasively dark sounding record; Cloak is an apt name for this project because a sense of dread covers the proceedings like a shroud of death. The interplay between driving mid-paced rhythms and dissonant chord layering strikes an intriguing balance between levity and stone-faced seriousness, with occasional pitch-black tremolo lines or sinfully catchy leads occasionally tipping the scales in either direction.

These disruptions of the status quo, however, are far too seldom. To Venomous Depths’ tonal duality should have been its defining feature; it feels like Cloak was aiming for a record that is as fun as it is vicious, but the band straddles the line so closely between the two that the experience feels dishearteningly flat. Cloak establishes their order of operations early on and, by the end of the record nearly a full hour later, has essentially made no headway in experimenting with their sound, as if they’re too proud of their formula to ever dare risk rocking the boat. Do not take this to signal a dearth of memorable moments – the toe-tappingly infectious chorus of “The Hunter” and the earworm leads and solos of “Beyond the Veil” are great examples of black ’n’ roll magic – but when every highlight feels strung together by the same handful of arpeggiating chords, it’s difficult to maintain a consistent level of enjoyment.

Cloak - To Venomous Depths 02Certain tracks of To Venomous Depths can feel rhythmically lethargic, as well. The methodical tempos typically work in Cloak’s favor (as it does in the modern Satyricon-esque stomp of “Within the Timeless Black”), but some cuts, especially “In the Darkness, the Path” feel like they should’ve been recorded just… a bit… faster. Drummer Sean Bruneau sounds as though he echoes my sentiments with rolling, energetic fills that don’t quite fit the tempo in some spots as if the lagging pace is fencing off his performance from really letting loose. From a production standpoint, the performances shine with dense tones that fit TVD’s thick atmosphere, but the mixing suffers the same issue as the two other Season of Mist black metal records I’ve covered this year. The drums are punchy and the bass is given decent space to work, but the layered guitars cramp in on each other when more effective spacing could’ve resulted in a gorgeous stringscape.

I really wanted to love To Venomous Depths. It’s the rare black ‘n’ roll record with some legitimately interesting workings under the hood, and its atmosphere is authentically dreary without negating the more purely entertaining aspects of Cloak’s sound. Yet by boxing itself into a limited toolset and then bloating that box to fifty-seven minutes, the resulting package is lacking in variety and difficult to fully recommend despite a fun, consistent groove and a good number of highly entertaining moments. Even so, TVD should hold broad appeal to those who can stomach its debut-like shortcomings, and if nothing else it’s an opportunity to get in on the ground floor for a band that has huge potential to craft something very special in the future.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Season of Mist
Website: cloakatlanta.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/cloakofficial
Releases Worldwide: November 10th, 2017
 

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  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    “Where no light shines.” Heh. BUTTZ.

  • Metal and Hockey

    I’ve been listening to this all week and I would give it a 3.5 or 4 because it’s a fun album. Beyond the Veil and Deep Red could both be in my top 20 songs I’ve heard this year. I definitely agree this band could put out a masterpiece in the future. Good review and I can see what you’re saying I think this is the kind of album that opinions may be all over the place

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Well written review.
    I am really enjoying this album because of its obvious aping of COTN .
    The telling will be if it has the same longevity.

  • Morbidly Obese Angel

    2.5? You’re outta your mind, kid. This is a 3.5 minimum, I’d go with a 4 myself. This album is stellar! Sounds like a heavier, less-sappy version of Tribulation, this is what I wish Children of the night sounded like. I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it.

    • Frost15

      It’s funny because the fact that this album sounded so similiar to Tribulation’s was the thing that nagged me a bit. I loved Children of the night and this is pretty similar, even the vocals sounded like a rip-off. Deserving more than a 2.5? sure. Better than Children of the night? Hell no!

      • Morbidly Obese Angel

        Hmmm… Don’t remember saying it was better than Children of the Night. It’s heavier, grittier, less artsy and has greater emphasis on riffs which is more up my alley. As opposed to Tribulation which was more melancholic, ditty and atmosphere driven. As far as my personal tastes go, I prefer Cloak but doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than Tribulation.

        • Frost15

          Pardon my misunderstanding sir. I thought your first opinion implied you thought this was better than Children of the Night, but it’s great you can appreciate how good that album is also.

    • Unwanted Guest

      >Sounds like a heavier, less-sappy version of Tribulation. This is what I wish Children of the night sounded like.

      Formulas of Death by Tribulation?

  • Oh come on, I literally blind-bought Solennial by Alunah solely cuz I wanted that artwork for the vinyl collection, this just isn’t fair.

    • Nukenado

      I was just about to comment how this looks like an Alunah album cover…

  • welyyt

    Black n’ Roll, Season of Mist? Liked the embeded, so I’ll check it out because almost everything that came out on SoM I end up liking.

    Since you mentioned Satyricon, that new album is a real grower: it was alright on the first listen, but it’s really enjoyable after a few spins, and it got me to go back through the rest of their stuff.

  • h_f_m

    Liking this quite a bit.

  • Choodi

    Going by the sample track, I’m going to say you got the score wrong. I’m adding this to the playlist and hope that the rest of the album lives up to what I’ve heard so far.

  • SoLeftISeeRight

    Band photo looks like an advertisement for the local ladies night at the strip club. “Thursday night, see them remove their cloaks and show you their venomous depths, at the dude ranch on sunset boulevard!”

  • Tofu muncher

    The embedded track sounds really nice though the first 90 seconds of the intro could be shorter IMO. Check this out I will.

  • AgonMcDuck

    I agree that some parts could have been faster. There is some legit good shit in here, I loved The Children of the Night and hear bits of it in here, but 50+ minutes of the single mid-tempo gets tiresome after a while. Somewhere between 2.5 and 3 for me, sadly.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      New Tribulation track is on YouTube.
      The Lament.
      Sounds killer.

      • AgonMcDuck

        Ooh. This is kind of a natural continuation of their previous sound but that vocal delivery has changed. This is not bad, though. Hoping the rest of the album is as good/better.

  • Jay Majesty

    Great review. I would give it a 3.5 but respect your points as they are well thought out as usual.