When you think "black metal" you probably don't think about Atlanta, Georgia but Cloak is trying to change that. For those of you who might not know, Cloak is a really solid quartet that fervently embraces the rebelliousness and individuality that has become the hallmark of black metal. Not straying far from the Nordic sonics of the genre, Cloak gives us a solid record that's going to really please fans of bands like Watain and Dissection.
You can hear the Watain influence in tracks like "The Holy Dark," which is a very traditional-sounding black metal cut with lots of attitude and speed. Thankfully though, the band doesn't try and emulate the old-school lo-fi production. You can really hear the musicianship shine through. There's a lot going on in this record in terms of orchestration and subtle effects that you can pick up well with a good pair of high-quality headphones.
This record (the band's third) doesn't leave much to the imagination when it comes to the lyrics. The messages are clear and the intent is hardly opaque. Lead vocalist/guitarist Scott Taysom states, “We’ve reached a point in history where people are forced to pick a side or to join a team, so to speak. Cloak stands in complete opposition to this. We aim to be a giant middle finger in the face of the empty modern world." Songs like "Invictus" really grab hold to the power of the individual and spur the listener to reject the tired chains of a collectivism. This, too, is something borrowed from the Norwegians and Cloak appears to greatly respect the forefathers of the genre.
It's not all homage to Nordic black metal. Songs like "Seven Thunders" showcase the band's embrace of touch of melody to make their work stand out a bit from the rest of the black metal scene. They also give some space in the mix to the bass which is a welcome change from the norms of the genre. Along the same lines, the title track, which closes the record out, is a six plus minute journey carefully woven with threads of tremolo, atmosphere and attitude.
Black Flame Eternal is somewhat distinct from the band's earlier offerings in the sense that the band has moved away from a sound that integrated some elements of heavy rock, or a black 'n' roll motif, if you will. Now, don't get me wrong, I really love their earlier work, however, this band has now really gone full-on black metal. It works for them. What hasn't changed, however, is the fact that that you won't find a bad song on the record.
I've been able to catch Cloak live a number of times and I've always been impressed by what they bring. My sincere hope is that this third record of theirs really propels them to the next level and that more people are able to take note of their immense talents. This is simply a band that has flown under the radar for far too long.