An invisibility cloak might be a nice thing to have to frighten the neighbours this upcoming Halloween. Alas, the garment the band Cloak refer to would probably not be used to cause mischief, but rather to cover yourself with in order to escape the world – the way you do with your blanket, lying in bed, when you want to be left alone.

Cloak’s new album The Burning Dawn tells a story of devastation and desolation. The scene depicted in the cover art, oil on canvas, no less, from the looks of it, is certainly none to rejoice about.  However, there is also the idea of cleansing through fire employed, of catharsis, of something awful you have to go through for things to get better.

Cloak are from Atlanta, Georgia in the American South. Their new album’s themes might, at least partly, be referring to their hometown’s history. During the American Civil War, Atlanta was almost burned to the ground. Track titles like March Of The Adversary, The Cleansing Fire and Into The Storm do call battles to mind. Atlanta rose from the ashes and became a more prosperous city and a centre of the civil rights movement, hence the idea of catharsis.

In addition to battles and end-of-the-world scenarios, there is something else seeping through the music of The Burning Dawn, and that is a good dose of the Southern superstitions. There is definitely something lurking in the shadows ready to pounce on you should an opportunity present itself. The video to the album’s third track A Voice In The Night has also a touch of the occult, showing a sorcerer preparing some kind of potion or performing a ritual.

While The Burning Dawn is the band’s second full-length album, this is my first encounter with Cloak. Their first album, To Venomous Depths (2017), was met with critical acclaim upon its release, and the band were hailed as one of the best new acts by the usual suspects.

For reference sake, I gave To Venomous Depths a quick listen and can say that the band’s new album sees them leaving behind the gothic melancholy and heavy-heartedness of its predecessor for a more aggressive, disillusioned sentiment and sound. While To Venomous Depths was bemoaning a situation, The Burning Dawn is a call to set fire to the world, to initiate the cleansing.

The band’s sound is still firmly rooted in traditional heavy metal and will therefore appeal to lovers of that genre. The soaring guitars and the story-telling character of the song titles even bring epic metal and power metal to mind, but the furious drumming and the growly, throaty vocals prevent the music from becoming cheesy. Instead of the black metal that the press info references, the character of the vocals and the drumming rather reminds me of death metal and rock. I can also hear a bit of Motörhead. Death ‘n’ roll would therefore be the most fitting description for me.

The Burning Dawn, to conclude, is a well-made album. Its nine tracks feature timeless song writing, and will appeal to a broad spectrum of metal fans. It is, however, a little bit less to my liking than its predecessor, because it lacks its eccentricity.

(7/10 Slavica)