Archive for the ‘Hope Drone’ Category

Alex Gillies’ Top 10 Albums of 2015

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

The next instalment in our end-of-year wrap-up comes from Alex Gillies, of No Anchor, Grieg and A Savage God.

1. Baroness – Purple
Very few bands in the world that can make heavy and beautiful mix seamlessly. The newly rebuilt Baroness have done that refining the melodrama and further defining the possibilities of their brand of metal.

2. Sumac – The Deal
Old Man Gloom/Russian Circles/Baptists all rolled into one lumbering mental-case of musical gristle.

3. High On Fire – Luminiferous
Returning with an even better dosage of the riff-filled metal that brought them this far.

4. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
A stronger, tighter and more ferocious blend of blasts and atmospherics. The old guard still hate it but this sounds like the future.

5. Drowning Horse – Sheltering Sky
Doom metal done right. Bleak and barren songs pushing you along like a slow march to hell.

6. Hope Drone – Cloak Of Ash
Like Deafheaven, a new generation pushing the boundaries of metal’s blackness and sophistication.

7. Built To Spill – Untethered Moon
The indie stalwarts’ latest incarnation of Neil Young-styled guitar squall. Made more so by singer Doug Marsh’s unique cathartic philosophical meanderings.

8. Torche – Restarter
Metal that makes you feel a million bucks! Crushing riffs, caustic melodies and a beautiful taste for the absurd.

9. Last Chaos – Only Fit For Ghosts
Raging Japanese-style hardcore punk from Brisbane that’s kicking teeth in left right and centre.

10. Yukon Dreams – Little Worlds
Dark twilight songs from Pall of Black Heart Procession, filled with musical saw and sung from the bottom of a whisky glass.

Hope Drone — Cloak of Ash

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

The Brisbane-based quartet Hope Drone have suggested through their first two digital releases that they were gifted with the potential to produce music of enormous atmosphere and depth. It comes as no surprise, then, that such promise was recognised so soon after the black metal band’s inception, being picked up by Relapse Records (a label who have so often displayed a canny ear). The time of Hope Drone’s first full-length album to come out through Relapse has now arrived, and with Cloak of Ash, such clear promise has well and truly exceeded what it inferred.

Hope Drone might share some similarities with some other notable artists tagged with the “post” prefix on their black metal (which should really only be taken as a signal that an artist has sought to evolve and expand, rather than stick to some Dogme 95 style treatise that stems from a handful of interviews with Norwegians in the early 90s). Comparisons with Vattnet Viskar, Altar of Plagues, or some of the USBM figureheads may instinctively spring forth. However, with more focused attention and repeated immersion in the devastating tsunami of black metal that is Cloak of Ash, it is stealthily apparent that there is plenty that sets Hope Drone apart. As a sum, it belies its references and, even more, that this is a work at the very early stages of Hope Drone’s musical journey.

Cloak of Ash is immense and demanding. This is clear from the outset, with the album opening with a track called “Unending Grey” that just sneaks over 20 minutes. Like The Master awakening in Salem’s Lot, the song opens its eyes with a brief lingering of dreams before exploding into frenzy. The vocals of Chris Rowden are rife with emotive despondency and scorn, yet elegantly and masterfully understated in the mix, like a tormented spirit rasping withering observations as it floats amidst humanity’s idiotic and self-flagellating procession to extinction. Violence dissipates into the soporific, before bursting into something akin to a monumental passage of early Finnish funeral doom. “Unending Grey” exemplifies the density of Cloak of Ash. It is as though, by its end, you have heard what many other metal bands would achieve in an entire album. But with six songs to go, it is but a quarter of the experience in terms of time.

It is a brilliant thing that, for a genre that has its roots in disdain for humanity, the music that bands such as Hope Drone create is stretching far beyond such seminal simple black and white depictions and approaching a complexity more appropriate for reflections on the human condition. As Cloak of Ash progresses, the density of ideas and the thoughtful nature through which they are delivered becomes more striking. Never once does it come across as scattered and thrown together simply for the sake of such lofty aims. There is never the impression of Hope Drone forcing a progressive approach to black metal. Whether it is the mellow beauty of idyllic post-rock or desert rock influences, momentary ambient flourishes, or their astonishing brilliance when delving into full on doom, the compositions are so skillfully blended that such ambition never distracts from the immersive nature of the songs. Seasoned as though with veteran hands, Cloak of Ash never dwells ponderously upon its own deviance from black metal dogma.

The enthralling nature of this richness of ideas is something that is best appreciated through continuous revisitation. To do so becomes as effortless as it seems for Hope Drone to shift stylistically. Even so, Cloak of Ash commands your involvement, particularly with the detail and scope treated to what is, in some sense, a more traditional black metal mix in the album’s sound. This is not background music, something to have on whilst you have a conversation. Such thoughtful and detailed work requires your full attention.

It certainly isn’t easy to create something that will instantly appeal to the established fan base of a particular style without being hopelessly derivative. Hope Drone’s full length debut has done so, a triumph surfing upon ravenous waves of nihilism and intoxicating beauty. In spite of perceptions, perhaps justifiably, of a staunch obsession with strict and safe traditions by the darker enclaves of Australian metal, once again one of the most compelling and interesting black metal albums of recent memory has set sail from these shores.

Cloak of Ash is out now through Relapse Records.

The Black Captain will be DJing at the Electric Funeral Club at The Velvet Lounge on July 29th.

Noiseweek: Dumbsaint, Caspian, Hope Drone and Marky Ramone

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


X-Press and The Music Perth have merged. The July 1 issue from this last Wednesday was the last print edition of The Music’s Perth arm, and will now be fully digital going forward while becoming X-Press’ print portal. X-Press will continue to be published fortnightly. The Music Perth’s editor Dan Cribb penned a farewell to the publication speaking with past editors and eulogizing its nine-year run which you can read here.


Headline acts are getting old. Or at least so says the data assembled by The Economist amidst the deluge of Glastonbury talk over the last week. The average age of a festival headliner (using the age of the solo artist or the lead of a band) was just over 30 in 1996; now, it’s over 40. Glastonbury’s three headliners ran the spectrum of generations; Florence Welch is only 28, Kanye West is 38 and Roger Daltery of The Who is 71. It comes as no surprise seeing as fewer artists capture the zeitgeist in their salad days, and the demand for headliners to top the bills of the absurd number of festivals, combined with dwindling royalty figures and the lucrative allure of the touring market has brought about the reunion culture of legacy acts that dominates today.


Speaking of reunion culture, English comedian / writer Stewart Lee has been announced to curate next year’s ATP 2.0 Festival in North Wales next April. The event will follow ATP Festival’s return to the UK — and the first under this nebulous 2.0 banner — Nightmare Before Christmas, which takes place at the end of November. Though given that line-up is largely free of the usual reunion types — Courtney Barnett, Built to Spill, The Album Leaf and Lightning Bolt are all towards the top — perhaps ATP’s all about the salad days.


Where Have All the Music Message Boards Gone? | Noisey

“Mess+Noise, “A Local Music Magazine dedicated to showing Australian music in a different and evocative light,” hasn’t updated for a month, but its messageboard, nicknamed the Shame Cauldron for its boarders’ uncompromising attitudes, is still simmering. It’s the most visible example in Australia of the decline of music messageboards. Anybody could tell you why they’re dying — the people entering the music industry now came up on Tumblr and Twitter, reblogging and retweeting each other endlessly with additions to the discourse, or on Facebook with private groups sharing bangers and turning over festival lineups, or on subreddits like /r/music, listentothis, hiphopheads etc., upvoting quips about Kanye West – but why does it matter?”

I Went to Jame’s Murphy’s New Wine Bar and All I Got Was More Confused About the State of the Music Industry | Pitchfork

“Is it fair to poke fun at Murphy for cashing in on his cred? As an indie-label impresario, you never go Full Brand, right? Or do we just accept that this is the music industry and culture we live in now? “This is an industry that makes zero sense. It made zero sense ten years ago and somehow we’re [DFA Records] still chugging along, doing the weird thing that we do,” Murphy said in a 2013 interview with Billboard. “As long as we just hang out and don’t do terrible things that seem gross I’m happy.””

How Video Games Changed Popular Music | The New Yorker

“It’s hard to listen to some of these decades-old sounds and not feel a sense of giddy nostalgia. This fall, Data Discs will reissue the soundtrack for 1992’s beat-’em-up classic Streets of Rage 2 as a deluxe vinyl edition. It’s a spellbinding document of its time, full of the composer Yuzo Koshiro’s chirpy interpretations of the era’s bleeding-edge sounds: scaled-down club tracks, a nod to Public Enemy’s “Rebel Without a Pause,” an almost note-perfect interpolation of Inner City’s “Good Life.” It’s the sound of a familiar, age-old musical story: cherished genres translated into new idioms, young visionaries butting up against someone else’s constraints. It was the first time some heard techno, and it was the music they had been waiting for all along.”

The Last Ramone: Marky Carries the Punk Rock Banner | Observer

“All four original Ramones are dead. But the drummer for most of their records, Marky Ramone, who replaced Tommy from 1978–1983, was booted for alcohol abuse and band dysfunction for a few years and then rejoined in 1987 and remained until the end, including induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Marc Bell was also a founding member of Dust, played with Wayne County and was an original Voidoid while Richard Hell invented the punk rock look. Born in Brooklyn, lord of the East Village, King of New York. We ate at DBGB’s.”


Caspian — Sad Heart of Mine

Caspian have always played the kind of post-rock that requires patience. Yes, there are build-ups and crescendoes and tremolo picking and pretty pianos, but where your standard fare Mogwai emulator would throw those elements around willy nilly, Caspian experts at moderation. When those tools are wielded well as on Sad Heart of Mine, the result is an exalting moment of serenity. This is the way great music is supposed to feel.

Hope Drone — The Chords That Thrum Beneath The Earth

The latest cut from Cloak of Ash certainly doesn’t feel ten minutes long, which is a credit to the maturation of Hope Drone’s songwriting between their last record and their upcoming Relapse debut. The opening three minutes of brooding guitars make for some of the most ominous music released this year, and the explosion of blackened fury that follows is so compelling and nuanced it both embody and transcend that genre’s tropes. I’ve got a feeling Cloak of Ash is going to be one of the best albums of the year.


Dumbsaint — Cold Call

DUMBSAINT — Cold Call — 2015 Short Film from Dumbsaint — Music & Film on Vimeo.

In a culture where effort is uncool, Dumbsaint’s ambition is admirable. Cold Call is the first track from from the Sydney outfit’s forthcoming long-player, Panorama, in ten pieces, and with the song’s debut comes an accompanying short film, a small portion of the 60 minute film that will accompany the full record. It’s beautifully shot, albeit a little student-feeling, and the song itself is a nervous and frenetic whirlwind of clashing guitars. Remarkably, the effort was self-funded; it’s reassuring to know that in a culture as small, insular and unprofitable as Australia, there are artists like Dumbsaint dreaming big ideas and following through. Panorama, in ten pieces. out August 7 and available for pre-order now through Bandcamp.

Noiseweek: Hope Drone, Neurosis, Swans and KU?KA

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


Every Tuesday is now Record Store Day, sort of, thanks to the American Association of Independent Music. Participating retailers will now devote the second day of the working week to specialty vinyl releases, new vinyl pre-releases ahead of other formats, reissues and special pressings.


Alex Griffin — who you might know as a life is noise contributor, Tiny Mix Tapes writer, Ermine Coat player or just a general top bloke — has launched his own zine talking about all things musical over at Bonzerzine. He’s kicked it off with a review of Perth outfit Verge Collection and an interview with the fine folk of Shit Narnia. Dig it.


In jealousy-inducing festival news, Riot Fest has revealed the bulk of the line-up for the 2015 iteration which takes place in Chicago, Denver and Toronto over three weekends in August and September. Iggy Pop and Motorhead get top billing at multiple stops, while the festival’s biggest leg in Chicago appearances from Faith No More, Drive Like Jehu, L7, Echo & The Bunnymen, Death, Indian Handcrafts and a slew of yet-to-be-announced acts. You can check the full line-up at


Seoul is now host to a tremendous public vinyl library with over 10,000 records. The venture is the latest in a series of library projects by credit company HyundaiCard and follows on from their Design and Travel Libraries. The Music Library also carries over 3,000 books and every issue of Rolling Stone from the last half-century. You can check out the website here. [via FACT]


Why Swans Whipped Sheet Metal and Licked CBGB’s Floor to Make ‘Filth’ | Rolling Stone

“Although the band’s initial release, 1982’s Swans EP, built off of the city’s dying no-wave scene, the ensemble came into its own with its debut full-length, Filth, the following year. Full of lumbering rhythms created by two bassists, two drummers, one guitar, a whipped metal table and some suffocating tape loops, the record is primal art rock at its most vitriolic, anticipating industrial, sludge and noise-rock in one fell thump. More threatening, Gira intermittently snarls imperatives about power – “Flex your muscles!” “Take control and keep it!” “Don’t talk until you’re spoken to!” – in a way that made Henry Rollins sound like Olivia Newton-John at the time, as the band dismantled rock to its most threadbare essentials.”

Feurio!!!! The Strange World Of Einstürzende Neubauten | The Quietus

“There are many legendary bands who name is a shibboleth for a certain kind of taste or knowing insiderism, but whose recorded output is less adequately attended to than it deserves to be. High on that list of bands are avant-noise German collective Einstürzende Neubauten, a band from West Berlin born from the apocalyptic Cold War paranoia that gripped that city for decades, whose music is famous for the explosive din produced its unusual and repurposed instrumentation. Over their three and a half decades of operation this has included jackhammers, sheet metal and fire, an instrumentation perfectly suited to the broken terrain of a city smashed into submission and never properly rebuilt.”


KU?KA — Flux 98

Is Laura Jane Lowther synesthetic? The intensely lush textures that fill every space of Lowther and company’s songs are so rich in sensory detail that it feels like she’s almost translating the taste of colour into soundwaves. Flux 98 is the third single from her forthcoming EP, Unconditional, and channels sounds from above the clouds and below the ocean’s surface, awash in high-end synths and Lowther’s distinctive heightened falsetto. Unconditional is out August 14 through Midnight Feature.

Hope Drone — Every End Is Fated In Its Beginning

Australia’s Hope Drone — who you may have heard are now signed to Relapse fucking Records — have released the first taste of their forthcoming long-player, Cloak of Ash, which is due out July 14. The 9-and-a-half minute track is brimming with the ecstatic dread, marrying ferocious black metal intensity with hazy ambience over a daunting two-chord refrain. Expect big things.


Neurosis — Times of Grace at Maryland Death Fest

MDF is consistently one of the strongest heavy festivals of the year. If you’ve been following the LIN Facebook, you probably saw our commander-in-chief’s live updates from the front lines with YOB, Conan, Ufomammut, Melt Banana, Full of Hell, Inter Arma and a metric fuckton of metal’s finest. Professional live footage has been hard to come by, but this crowd clip from Neurosis’ set is nothing to sneeze at. Even from 100 feet back on video, Neurosis is a stunning and exhausting behemoth of a band.

Sam Prekop — A Geometric

Like a degraded VHS tape playing old Windows Media Player visualisations, the video from Sam Prekop’s A Geometric is an analog-to-digital mindfuck of colours and shapes. There’s something vital lost in our HD aesthetic, and the lo-fi strobing geometry from video artist Nick Ciontea is a perfect match for Prekop’s pulsating and oscillating synths. A Geometric is taken from The Republic which is out now on Thrill Jockey.