Elegiac is a one man band from California formed in 2014 by sole composer Zane Young, whom has released a large number of records under the name of Elegiac- far too much for any band yet alone a one man band. Like many bands of this generation, Elegiac play a basic form of black metal that can be described as the bastard child of Bathory, Satanic Warmaster and generic modern rock. This is not what one expects from USBM at all despite their promo toting this release as the return of the micro genre’s glory days.
We are treated to a standard modern home recording that whilst sounding perfectly clear and gritty proclaims an obvious lack of power in the overall sound. The guitar tone sounding dirty but especially castrated in the style of hipster black metal bands stemming from post hardcore guitars. The screeches sound somehow authentic and there is some good harmonized tonal passages vocally as well. As is the case with most rock music the drums are too loud yet have an artificial low fidelity sound. This overall sound really exposes the inherent weaknesses of this album, while the acoustic passages offer much needed respite from the rest as they are competently composed and shine in comparison to what is on offer here. Still, these moments are far from transcendental when heard in isolation.
The music is composed in a very formulaic format with a short lead taking the center of the sonic soundscape, repeating multiple times the same melody without variation concealing a cadenced pulsation of bland power chord riffs. The music is kept together by harmonically similar ideas that often to shift to simple rock music so that the riffs can support some variation of what by the end of the album seems to be the same melody. Simple alternating hits of the drumkit only reinforce the rock aspect of this music. The length of this album is unjustifiable by the sheer lack of ideas ,the complete contradiction between the lyrics and the music and the lifeless execution of it all.
Zane Young is not a bad musician in any sense of the word but he obviously does not have the ability to release Elegiac albums at this rate without the music suffering from a lack of thought and creativity. The only track that was not completely terrible was “Beyond the Physical Realm” for its average speed metal sparts and lyrics of giving up and submission that well personify the weak and lifeless music here. Elegiac need to reduce the length of the songs considerably since nothing actually happens. The simplistic speed metal stylings would be a much better fit than the whinny rock forced down our throats. Most importantly there needs to be some form of conscious thought rather than formulaic using simple melodies to make more than an hour’s worth of music.
Black Clouds of War is not the triumphant return of American black metal but instead the sound of the genre dying a slow and humiliating death. This is a lesson in why rock music and black metal rarely mix and is also the result of this generations ease of access to recording software. There is no reason for this band to be releasing 2 albums per year as not every written song warrants a release. And on top of all that-not an ounce of Havohej, Absu, Profanatica nor Demoncy exist in Black clouds of war which begs the question where is the USBM!? This album is a passing headache that has already been forgotten and I recommend that you forget about this release and listen to something else.