Published Feb 11, 2014The huge, two-hour double record that is Milwaukee black metal band Shroud of Despondency's latest effort is a very different beast from their the dour, barren landscape of 2012's nature-inspired Pine or the dreary, introspective wanderings of 2011's Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion. Tied To A Dying Animal is a more desperate, more disorienting creation that draws from the grim, folk-inflected black metal and thrashing, anguished death metal leanings, while moving in a slightly progressive direction.
The first half of the record is unquestionably the more aggressive, conjuring a wild violence with "The Life of Fire" and "Untamed Energy." The second half of the record is a more subtle, acoustic collection of tracks, but surprisingly, it contains some of the most searing material in the collection, especially "The Whore and the Politician."
While Shroud of Despondency are proud of their prolific output, and do maintain a high level of quality, with a collection this length, editing becomes a question; while there is some interesting juxtaposition that happens between the two halves of the release, in the past they have been able to integrate these two aspects of their musical identity within tracks. Splitting these techniques into a Jekyll-and-Hyde double album removes some of the possibilities for startling moments of gentleness in stark and driving songs. While it's certainly a productive exercise to split their musical identity apart and examine the pieces, their strongest work comes when their sound is a more fully integrated whole. (Independent)