Metal, for all it’s claims of being “dark” and “disturbing”, so rarely ever is, leaning far too much on overwrought horror movie cliches as the backbone of it’s counterculture schtick. Even bands who do explore genuinely disturbing themes in their lyrics often fail to make instrumentation that conveys an atmosphere to match. Some do, however, especially when we move away from what could strictly be called metal. Enter France’s Cloak of Altering. A one man project from the same person behind, among others, Gnaw Their Tongues, Cloak of Altering have already built a reputation among fans of the strange and avant-garde.
Of course, this was likely helped by founder/sole member Mories previous work, which ranks among the most extreme and challenging music in the genre. However, Cloak of Altering quickly stood on it’s own merits as a project worthy of attention.With the project’s fourth album, Mories strips back some of the frenetic insanity of the excellent Plague Beasts, and replaces it with a brooding sense of dread and despair.
The blackened, harsh guitars and vocals feel as though they churn above a maelstrom of barely contained rage, as if something is being held back, and any moment now the music will explode into the kind of excess seen on the last album. And sometimes that excess comes, but it’s used sparingly, and all the more effective this way. Manifestation is less technical instrumentally than previous album Plague Beasts, but it arguably accomplishes more with less, dragging the build-ups out in an almost post-rock manner allows it to have more noticeable peaks and valleys than the full on insanity many genre contemporaries employ. This kind of musical format works well in the album’s favor, allowing the blackened industrial elements of the project to really take center stage, and they truly come into their own here. The drumming, samples and glitchy, electronic nature of the music always feel natural, and never forced or gimmicky.
The moods and atmospheres Moires conjures on this album are grimy, greasy industrial nightmares, as though it was made by screeching, glitched machines making terrifying, incomprehensible outsider art. But underneath the difficult-to-penetrate surface are songs that brooding, emotional, and even sometimes beautiful, dealing with often uncomfortable topics and themes. Look up the lyrics and read them listening with headphones, preferably in a dark room by yourself. It really is the best way to enjoy this album.
Manifestation is fantastically coherent, conjuring it’s dreadful imagery in a way few others can accomplish. There are parts of this album that are genuinely difficult to listen to, in a good way. The music isn’t at odds with the lyrical and conceptual themes on display, it’s irrevocably intertwined with them in a way that feels natural and organic. Obviously, this record won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, as the subject matter and music can be dreadful and frightening and the song structures are far and away from the often well defined style seen in most of metal. However, if you at least a passing interest in avant-garde music and all things challenging and weird, or even just in art that’s truly dark and disturbing, you owe it yourself to give this album a listen. Few other artists can accomplish what’s on display here, and perhaps none can do it naturally and well.
Cloak of Altering – Manifestation gets…