Elegiac – Black Clouds Of War

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Label: Hatework Propaganda 

The rate of releases from one-man black metal act Elegiac is certainly impressive; what’s more impressive is that, among the horde of splits, EPs, and albums released since the original 2014 demo, there’s barely a bad song to be found. Latest album Black Clouds Of War continues that trend of consistency, unleashing an hour’s worth of pagan nihilism and misanthropy over ten tracks. This is raw, hateful black metal that brooks no compromise, offering no mercy and expecting none in return.

Whilst the belligerent character of Elegiac has always been present, with each release the musical identity of the band has become more refined and clear; the eclectic, style-hopping nature of early recordings has been honed in to a more focused sound. There’s still different aspects at play on each release though, and on Black Clouds Of War the tendency is towards longer tracks, possessed of a spirit that is equal parts mournful and proud – somewhere between Drowning The Light and Winterfylleth, say. Tracks such as ‘The Hanging Head Of Death’ may have a slightly depressive undertone, but it’s far removed from the DSBM spirit of earlier Elegiac releases. Instead, this is an album fueled by hatred, that moves forward with terrible, malicious purpose, promising death and suffering.

That’s not to say it’s a difficult listen, though. The melodies within the songs gives them an air of immediacy and (for fans of raw black metal) relative accessibility, and whilst it may offer no grand evolution upon this style of black metal, there is more than enough character and quality to Black Clouds Of War to prevent that being an issue. Likewise, the interlude tracks are well placed, and offer a change of pace and focus, that helps keep the black metal-oriented tracks seem as effective and powerful as they should be; the acoustic ritual summoned by ‘Ashwind’ is an especially interesting track, and greatly enhances the pagan feel of the album.

It may not be quite as overtly aggressive as previous record Rise From The Ashesand the more punk-infused USBM aspects have been scaled back, but Black Clouds Of War is still a savage piece of work that shows little interest in making the listener feel comfortable, and absolutely none in making them feel safe. It is a prime demonstration of how dangerous black metal can feel when melody is a key part of the sound, and of how the genre can sound simultaneously noble and crude.

Black Clouds Of War is available via Bandcamp. A cassette version, limited to sixty copies, has already sold out.

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