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Mediocre black metal in a lackluster package - 40%

Derigin, December 12th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Frozen Creations (Limited edition)

It could be worse, but that’s not saying much. Black Clouds is your typical black metal fare punctuated with awful production and terrible choices in structure and mixing. I could probably just end the review there, and you’d get the general gist of this short EP, but I don’t think it does the genre justice to not explain what exactly is wrong with this release (and, to some degree, what is good or decent). It might be argued that it is normal for black metal to have terrible production – after all, it’s one of the hallmarks that can help make a sound “raw” – but in this case the artistic license is non-existent. The band just didn’t give a shit.

The disappointing bit about this release is that the instrumentation isn’t all that bad. Although heavily distorted, the guitarwork is decent; riffs are clear and distinguishable, if at times a little boring and monotonous. The same can be said about the drums and the bass just as well. The instrumentation doesn’t show particular talent, but neither is it plagued with amateur tendencies or faults. No apparent errors; no apparent mistakes. A fairly straightforward, solid, black metal sound. Vocals follow suit with clearly articulated harsh growls, though like the guitars, drums and bass there’s nothing particularly astounding or exceptional about them.

If that was the only issue I had with this EP, it would be just yet another mediocre black metal release. But, like I said at the start of this review the production and mixing is just downright atrocious. The production turns Black Clouds into a ‘Black Hurricane’; while you can still distinguish the sound enough to understand what is being played and sung, it’s at best rehearsal quality sound. Personally, and honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if that’s all this is: a rehearsal compiled into a “limited edition” EP probably meant as nothing more than a quick cash grab.

The production and mixing of this album is the epitome of laziness! How this could even be qualified as anything but a shit rehearsal demo is beyond me. Even the fact that the first track, “Black Clouds,” is made up of multiple unrelated tracks combined roughly into one indicates that this wasn’t an EP that was thoroughly planned or thought through. In hindsight it seems pretty damn fitting that the title track is named the same as the album; both are structural messes wrought with carelessness and a disrespect of the craft.

Do I recommend this? At this point I’d say it’s pretty obvious that I don’t. Even as far as your typical black metal EP goes, Black Clouds is a major disappointment. Although the music itself is perfectly acceptable for the style, the production and structure of this release combined with the overall laziness in the way the music is presented makes it not worth your time or your money. I wouldn’t totally dismiss this EP as worthless garbage – since the instrumentation and vocals are acceptable – but there’s far better and greater albums out there. This one doesn’t come close. On the whole, all you’re getting is mediocre black metal in a lackluster package. If that’s your fetish, have at it.