Prior to this album, I wasn’t familiar with Hope Drone. I now know that their core style is a blend of black metal, sludge and post rock. “Void Lustre” follows an album in 2015, and an EP and single before that.
The five lengthy tracks suggest five weighty slabs, and this indeed is what we get. The slow and ponderous start of “Being Into Nothingness” sets the black atmosphere and gets us into the mood. As good post rock does, the tableau develops with the roars of suffering but even more impressively, an instrumental melancholic piece which evolves into a maelstrom of murderous intent. The build-up and energy are impressive. This energy is taken forward into the urgent and turbulent “Forged By the Tide”. Again this is impressive in its structure and powerful evolution. So too is “In Floods and Depths”. Appropriate to its name, it’s like being in a violent storm but in between there are instrumental subtleties, which reinforce the grandiose atmosphere and lead to a sustained wall of intensity.
The more I heard of this album, the more I became immersed in its extreme heaviness. Constant thunder and despairing roars are at its heart. I found that in spite of the smooth transitions and tempo transformations, this was having a numbing effect on me. “This Body Will Be Ash” grinds down as if its battery is running out, but a renewed wall of sound surfaces and takes us inexorably to its end. Four of the five tracks are over 12 minutes long. I’d say that was too long for the content that’s here. The monster of all of them is the 17 minute “In Shifting Light”. It starts in predictably heavy and thunderous fashion. Nine minutes in, there is a dark and atmospheric interlude – although there are transitions, this prolonged section is what the album had been waiting for. Notes are quietly pumped out and an air of melancholy creeps in. The drum sets an ominous tone. A frisson of tension runs through it. The atmosphere builds up, as the tension mounts and Hope Drone threaten to overwhelm us with an exciting and electrifying conclusion.
The strength of this album is the construction of these atmospheric tracks. “Void Lustre” has great power but for me much of it was a case of weight over content, which led me to start to lose interest until the thrilling climax of the final track.
(7.5/10 Andrew Doherty)