There’s nothing much better than turns on a theme. Sure, it’s fun when a band takes a hard line on sticking in a certain box. It’s nice to hear those records as they feel comforting. It’s like wearing an old t-shirt: it fits just right and you know it’s good. But it’s equally nice to hear someone do their own thing with an established sound. It’s how we get the variety we’re currently enjoying in metal. Listening to music that tries to do its own thing instead of aping someone else is a true joy to hear.
With that, we should discuss Atlanta’s Cloak. The four-piece from the south create a black n’ roll sound that’s heavy on the black. It’s an extremely accessible form of black metal that includes some gothic influence in their songwriting with quite a few acoustic guitar or solo piano sections to build the drama. Imagine if Tribulation decided to start tremolo picking and you’d pretty much have Cloak. It’s very dramatic and over the top but maintains an extremely dark outer shell.
The most remarkable thing about The Burning Dawn is just how consistent it is throughout the record. There are little ebbs and flows throughout, of course, but maintaining a sound or theme is difficult for even the most experienced artists. But this is only Cloak’s second full-length record after being a band for all of 6 years. That’s pretty impressive to see a group of musicians create a sound that is this cohesive. There was clearly a single vision for what The Burning Dawn should be, and they nailed it right on the head with style.
What is even more impressive is how in the weeds this band can get with their musical references. There’s the chaos of second-wave black metal combined with the atmospheric qualities of a lot of newer black metal bands that really creates this dark and evil environment. At the same time, they build their songs in ways that any music fan could appreciate the sound. After listening to Dawn a number of times, I can pretty confidently say that if you’re trying to introduce your non-metal friends to a more underground sound, Cloak is an excellent introduction. The sound is also unique enough that your TRVE KVLT buddies will love the original take.
I don’t think everyone will agree with me, but this is legitimately one of my absolute favorite records to come out this year. I love the atmosphere it creates that intimates visions of old manors covered in spider webs where a Victorian-era vampire awaits a beautiful damsel. It is equal parts romantic and modern as it also dishes out images of a world ablaze with the fire of the Fallen One. The word “amalgamation” springs to mind when reviewing The Burning Dawn. Just as it melds together older literary thoughts with more recent ideas, so too does it entwine black metal with more established and traditional popular music. It creates a unique combination that is best contemplated over a nice glass of red wine. Just from a sonic perspective, this is a thinking person’s record. There are a lot of thoughts combining on The Burning Dawn. I suggest you take your time to consume it.
The Burning Dawn drops October 25th via Season of Mist Records, and is available for pre-order on the band’s Bandcamp page.