Clouds – Legendary Demo

5 out of 5

Labels: Hydra Head

Produced by: Stephen Brodsky

I think, based on other reviews from the time, I’m supposed to consider this a good-not-great record, maybe too cool for school and maybe a bit lacking in depth, as befits a group who apparently defined themselves as ‘Party Grunge.’

But whatever.  Coming in the Cave In downtime while Stephen Brodsky was exploring his fanciful side on Octave Museum (though don’t count him out – his raw production touch here makes it clear he still has ears that love the rawk), co-Cave In guy Adam McGrath got together with some other indie stalwarts and I guess decided to blow up every speaker they could force their jams through.  And jams are what these are: instantly headbangy slabs of thick bass, hefty riffs, and sputtering drums, with vocals that lean more toward the proto-metal wail of Wolfmother and the like, but with a throat-shredding grounding in hardcore so you ain’t gonna forget this is on Hydra Head.

I go back and forth on the closing Quartulli Dub, which rehashes a lot of cuts from the preceding seven tracks and, as titled, puts them to a dub beat; at 19ish minutes, it’s about the length of everything else on the disc, and hits an obvious peak before going ’round for another dub burnout…  But: test of listening pleasure be the repeat button, and so this album spun through 5 or 6 times non-stop, and I’ve arrived at digging the chillout the dub offers.  Had this just been a 20-minute EP of shouts and bleats and spasms, yeah, it’d still be fantastic, but maybe it’d feel somewhat slight.  Tacking the dub on to things keeps our head bobbing and our ears in the game for what’s around the corner – you definitely recognize the album’s DNA throughout – and so if you do have the thing on repeat and opener New Amnesia gets geared up to wreck your speakers once more, it’s quite the perfect ebb and flow.  From the opposite perspective, 40 minutes of this stuff would probably be stretching it.

So, whatever, you know?  Legendary Demo is exactly freakin’ that – legendary.  Except if it’s a demo, groups who try to go the whole production route to achieve the same are in a lot of trouble.