Clouds – Despărțire Review

You could hardly find a more autumnally appropriate band than Clouds. Their name not only describes the most prevalent meteorological phenomenon of the season, their past catalog, and a band roster filled with members from legendary Funeral, Saturnus, and Shape of Despair has established them as a master of atmospheric doom. Now solely composed of Romanian multi-instrumentalist Daniel Neagoe, Clouds has broken their modest trend of self-releasing their albums by partnering with Personal Records. Marking the occasion with an “Official Bonus Track” release of this latest LP Despărțire,1 which includes closing “Untitled” instrumental, this is the perfect opportunity for Clouds to spread their musical dolor to a wider doom-loving audience.

Despărțire—whose name is Romanian for “Separation”—sees Clouds make depressing music still more irresistibly sublime. Their blend of funeral, death, and classical doom, aptly described by Steel Druhm most recently as “unbearably downcast, but transcendent,” powerfully expresses themes of loss and loneliness. On Despărțire, Clouds places a heavier emphasis on synth and reverb-laden atmosphere; makes more extensive use of piano, violin, and woodwinds; and continues to mix warm, low growls, plaintive cleans, and cutting spoken-word. Layers of interwoven metal and heartstring-plucking melodies find Clouds’ funereal ‘sadboi doom,’ elevated to exceptionally stirring heights through songs that are genuinely beautiful and unironically miserable.

Clouds’ ability to musically convey profound anguish is the root of Despărțire’s power. The drawing out of emotive melodies into powerful catharses—whether by refrain (“Deepen this Wound”) or surging climax (“The Door We Never Opened”)—consistently hits with a sweet sadness. Neagoe’s low, throaty growls and his tender, mournful cleans are balanced just right to provide a dark languidness, but human poignancy. His soaring cries in “Deepen This Wound” and “See the Sky with Blind Eyes” are particularly moving, while true funeral doom gnarrs rumble with an impassioned weight in brilliant contrast to the urgent, plaintive violin (“Your Name in My Flesh”). The spoken word also hits hard (though those with a particular aversion may demur). Emphasis via spacey reverb and the accompaniment of stripped-back synth and piano make Neagoe’s blunt delivery (“This Heart, a Coffin,” “A Place for All Your Tears”) feel chillingly candid.

Despărțire is also beautiful. The intertwining of the delicate woodwind, violin, and piano with the robust, thick guitar riffs—as well as the aforementioned contrast between funereal growls and lamenting cleans—creates a rich, sublime canvas of sound. Gorgeous minor melodies accentuated by classical orchestration (“This Heart, a Coffin,” “Your Name in My Flesh”), or solely driven by it (“See the Sky with Blind Eyes,” “Untitled”) are woven into every inch of this album. Small interludes for woodwind solos (“In Both Our Worlds the Pain Is Real,” “The Door We Never Opened”) act like flickers of sunlight through the murky Autumn sky: brief, joyful promises of Spring on the other side. Layers of thick, synth-driven atmosphere add lush moodiness to tracks like “Your Name in My Flesh,” and dark allure to tracks like “Untitled”.

This beauty and emotional power combine to make Despărțire an engaging listen. Despite being over an hour long—with two tracks breaching the ten-minute mark—it passes by with surprising speed. The fact that this includes a very My Dying Bride-sounding duet with MDB vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe (“In Both Our Worlds the Pain Is Real”) is a testament to Clouds’ commitment to aesthetic variation while keeping the tone consistently doleful. All this means it’s hard to find anything worthy of meaningful criticism. Despărțire sees the perfection of Clouds’ talent for creating exquisitely miserable soundscapes, eight years in the making. It gracefully foreshadows the coming months of darkness, cold, and dismal despair. These are some overcast skies that anyone even slightly infatuated by the gloom should experience.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Personal Records
Websites: cloudsofficial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/cloudsbandofficial
Released Worldwide: December, 3rd, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. Initially released October 14th, 2021 and we didn’t get a promo. – AMG
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