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Cloudkicker – Fade

Posted: August 9, 2012 by Fredrik Schjerve in Uncategorized
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This release is just the first in a quadrology of reviews I will write, based on a feature at Metalreview.com, which recommended these four albums, each suffering from lack of publicity. Even though I might reach just a few people, I have at least tried to spread knowledge about the quality these records possess.

Cloudkicker has often been lumped in with the current Djent-scene, despite the fact that the band (or the artist, Cloudkicker consists of one sole member) is not playing djent by any means. At least not anymore. Ben Sharp, the mastermind behind the sonic venture called Cloudkicker, has got a habit of hanging his musical style between every record. So though he has played Djent-related music before, he now produces music in an entirely different manner.

The up-to-date Cloudkicker conjures a melodic, post-rock influenced, though only in the slightest matter, amalgam of pure songcraft and catchy ideas. Clear hooks and sonic imagery is the new mixture’s selling point, as Fade is equal parts catchy and cunning. “From The Balcony” unleash the accessibility straight away, with a bass-underlined harmony which evolves into a large hook. The record is immensely smooth-sounding and as relaxing as an album can be while still achieving the term of “metal”. The song is an early highlight, containing both huge riffs and acoustic, chordal interplay. While being relatively straigh-forward and captivating, Fade is also a interplay of interesting ideas and explorative songwriting, making the record a listen I can’t imagine any music fan would deny a great one.

The Focus” enters next, boasting massive drums and a happy summertime-style riffing, before album centerpiece, “Seattle” gets set to impress with its ten minutes running time. A moody intro soon kicks into a polyrythmic layering of rythm, lead and feedback-like melody. The resulting mixture is a true instrumental victory, and you don’t realise until the part ends, that you have been listening to the same riff for three minutes. The work laid down during the ten minutes feels like the melodic side of djent, stripped of its complexity and heaviness, polished and perfected to the extent of a near revelatory product. After the melodic epiphany reaches its end, we get a stream of descending acoustic notes, which is the part of which the sonic imagery enters. The traffic-like notes evokes a time lapse-shot of Seattle city shifting between day and night in a flutter of blinking lights and colours. Unfortunately, the aftermath comes across as a bit tame in comparison, but the last minutes are saved by the recurring clean melody, which enters near the end.

The rest of the album varies between gentle, atmospheric mastery (Garage Show), sonic imagery of a shuttle searching for an alien source (Cloud-hidden, Whereabouts Unknown), a slight misstep (Making Will Mad), and the album’s subtle masterpiece, “Our Crazy Night”. To form a comclusion, Fade is a masterful achievement from a man that has managed to create magic before, and surely will do so yet again soon. There was not a single moment during the CD that I didn’t enjoy myself, and considering you can download it for free legally at Cloudkickers bandcamp page, there is no reason that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself either. You need a lot of talent to do a stylistic 180 degree-turn without messing things up, and though he has come close to doing that earlier (Let Yourself Be Huge), Ben Sharp has managed to do it merit-fully on Fade. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Recommended Tracks: From The Balcony, Seattle, Our Crazy Night

8.5/ 10

Fredrik Schjerve

Anticipation and preconceptions can fool you. Same can be said about influence from sources you trust wholeheartedly. My relationship with Samothrace was non-existing before information of their new record hit my radar from web-pages I follow like a blindfolded sheep. The reviews of their new opus, “Reverence To Stone” was far from deriving. The comments and reviews were all praising this record, and as a lover of long-length songs, I squealed with joy when I found out the CD consisted of two songs, together reaching the length of 35 minutes. But anticipation and preconceptions can fool you.

Samothrace’s brand of contrast-heavy, melodic funeral doom is a force to be reckoned with. They have a solid talent for writing powerful chord-progressions, tasteful melodies and engaging bursts of post-rock dynamics-gone-doom. The first track, “When We Emerged” starts of acoustic, boasting a improvised feel to the plucking, before settling in a melodic pattern. That pattern is continued when the band, plus loads of distortion kicks into a solid groove, to breathtaking results. To this point, the high hopes were all answered with fierce compositional prowess, and the following 30 minutes seemed to be a joyful ride.

A surfy guitar entered, layering an additional sense of grandiosity, and it all swirled into a short lead before the power was cut once more. The silent strumming built on my interest for what would happen next, and when the silence ended, I was amazed. The following verse hit like a truck, with all its doomy, funereal heaviness, and a shrieking vocal desperation filled all my needs for what a funeral record should be. Following the crushing snail-bulldozer was a catchy chord-progression, and everything sounded the way I was told, but after nine minutes of really solid experimental doom, a bland sequence hit the speaker. Unfortunately, the last five minutes tested my patience with anonymous, nearly useless parts of half-baked ideas, and my fuel was heavily burned out on trying to understand the greatness I was promised by the first nine minutes of the song.

With my fan-boyism severely reduced, I hit the play button, starting of the second stroll, “A Horse Of Our Own”. Despite a promising and hard-hitting intro, a non-contributing and lacking solo further lets down the potential of the band, and after five minutes of manageable material, another dragging, acoustic/ solo-part destroys the momentum. I must say, the solos of Samothrace are really a hit and miss-thing, some times striking a golden ore, but most of the time creating a way for the attention to escape the forcefield of the listenable parts of the compositions. Considering the second track was the longer one of the two, I was brutally struck down when I found out that half of the song was made of the kind I stated above.

The acoustic soloing is just so hypnotisingly confusing. With the band showing so much potential when it comes to making actual riffs and and immense soundscapes, why do they feel the need to poison the songs with such life-draining mediocrity? I see how people might actually enjoy these parts, but being a guitarist myself, I can just hear that there is nothing really solid about the soloing. The parts drags, adding nothing to the overall brew, and though some might disagree, I find that the sleepy pondering totally hammers down the listening experience, damaging the quality of the record badly.

So my anticipation and preconceptions were proved wrong after several listens, and trust me, I listened to this record countless times, trying to figure out why you people regard it so highly. Before I put forth the score, let me just say that the parts that really work, REALLY work, and that an album featuring all the right Samothrace-elements might be a stunning list-topper if it ever surfaces. The first track is filled with exciting quality despite the eventless last five minutes, but the second track is a mixture of uninspiring and plain boring parts, sprinkled with a few moments of unbeatable glory. It hurts to have to take away so many points from a record that contains plenty of wonderful moments, but because of the many parts I just didn’t enjoy listening to at all, I unfortunately have to. Please prove me wrong next time, Samothrace.

                  Recommended Track: When We Emerged

                  6.0/ 10.0

                  Fredrik Schjerve

 

Some updates concerning the blog

Posted: August 5, 2012 by pacsack in Uncategorized

As you guys may already have noticed, a new writer/contributor has become a part of ThyMetalPenguin – Martin Sollien. He has already written one review (‘Lots of Girls Gonna Get Hurt’), and more reviews are already in progress.

However, this little update isn’t the only reason we’re writing this post; we have namely decided to expand our horizon a little bit. The main focus will still be on the metal-records, but non-metal-records will also be more frequent than it was meant to be to begin with. In addition to this, a few video game- and movie-reviews will pop up once in a while when there’s time for that.

Alexander Lange