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Clouds : Departe

Clouds' sophomore carries on more or less exactly where 2014's 'Doliu' left off.

When Clouds first arrived on the scene with their debut album 'Doliu' back in 2014, the Doom community instantly collapsed in fits of fan-girlish squeeing - unsurprisingly really, given the band's supergroup status featuring members of Shape of Despair, Pantheist and Eye of Solitude, to name just 3 of the around 30 bands listed as related on their Metal Archives page! Mainly a vehicle of Eye of Solitude's main man Daniel Neagoe (who, coincidentally, also have a new record that I have just reviewed - making for a useful comparison/contrast: read it here), the record was almost universally praised for its atmospheric beauty.

'Departe' carries on where 'Doliu' left off. The songs are universally gorgeous and evocative, the depth of the sounds instantly takes you on a journey if you close your eyes and let it carry you. The already strong roster is augmented by guest spots from My Dying Bride violinist Shaun Macgowan and Shape of Despair vocalist Natalie Koskinen, amongst others, each adding new layers to the songs on which they appear.

Unfortunately, I feel most of my criticisms of Eye of Solitude's 'Cenotaph' are largely applicable here as well. Whilst the larger variety of instrumentation and guest performances means 'Departe' is less monolithic in its singularity of sound, the tendency to repeat the same simplistic patterns throughout each song rears its head once again - and here the lyrics seem somewhat repetitive and simplistic also. A good example comes in the fifth track, 'Driftwood'. At around 5 minutes a section starts, with the lyrics singing 'Drifting away... to a brighter place' for some time. Then at 7:50 there are a few bars that sound like the start of something different. It builds, sounding as though it is going to start with the sorely missed riffs… I get ready to feel the musical orgasm that all this tension has been building to... and then... 'Floating away...'. Never mind. It's just going to carry on doing the same thing. There are too many moments like this on the album, that, as with the Eye of Solitude, makes me feel they could have done slightly more.

This record is the opposite of a grower. On first listen, the richness of the sound and beauty of the melodies completely enveloped me and I was thinking 'instant classic'. Unfortunately on repeated listens I found myself enjoying it less as the repetitive elements started to grate on me. As with the Eye of Solitude, it's really not doing anything at all that the previous record didn't, nor is it really doing anything I hadn't heard from Shape of Despair over a decade ago.

Still, though, it hasn't really gone down all that much in my estimation - just as with 'Cenotaph', I like this a whole lot, I'm just slightly disappointed that it isn't quite all that it could be. Its still a damned fine record, and one that has every right to generate the levels of praise it has received.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. How Can I Be There
2. Migration
3. In the Ocean Of My Tears
4. In All This Dark
5. Driftwood
6. I Gave My Heart Away

Duration : Approx. 65 minutes

Visit the Clouds bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-02-25 by Kris Clayton
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