|Black Clouds Gathering
By now, we should be used to hearing about metal bands hailing from the most unexpected places, but it is always intriguing to have chance to review a black metal album from Indonesia: the first LP by the Jakarta-based band Vallendusk.
The Southeast Asia scene has been growing in the last decade, and some bands have even managed to attract positive comments abroad (fellow Indonesian act Kekal comes to mind). However, Vallendusk comes from a different background, somewhere halfway between melodic and “folkish” atmospheric black metal, with a clear post-rock vibe as it is the case with some other projects coming from the Pest Productions roster (such as the New Zealander Súl Ad Astral, which I have covered a few weeks ago).
With Black Clouds Gathering, this quartet released the highly-anticipated follow-up to their debut EP Vallendusk (2012), meeting the expectations of those eager to listen to it. The logo reminds me of some sort of military insignia — quite similar in concept to Vreid’s — and the title itself works as a call to arms; the cover artwork shows a clouded hilltop tinged with black and grey, arguably foreshadowing Vallendusk‘s march to conquest higher grounds in the scene (the band is shown hiking and reaching to the top on the inner face of the cover).
Listening to this album, there are a few names that may spring to mind in terms of main influences: Agalloch and Alcest are probably the easiest to point out, but the afore-mentioned Vreid and other European melodic acts might arise here and there during the more aggressive tunes (“To Wander And Beyond”). There is also some slightly Cascadian undertone throughout the album, as nature leads the way as the main theme in terms of content. The rhythm seldom gets too raw and most of the time Vallendusk lingers in the area they’re most comfortable with: the melodic-atmospheric side of black metal (“Among The Giants”).
The album is pretty long (around sixty-seven minutes), but it goes on quite enjoyably, perhaps one less track could have helped in terms of impact. Vallendusk succeeded in completing a solid release, cementing their place as one of the most interesting bands in the fast-growing Southeast Asia metal scene.