Clouds – We Are Above You

4 out of 5

Produced by: Kurt Ballou

Label: Hydra Head Records

Some bands just get how to rock out.  The pedigree here certainly helps: with dudes from Cave In, Suicide File, and Doomriders, and having appeared on the influential Hydra Head label, you know the disc is gonna accomplish something, though you might be cautiously fingering your earplugs in anticipation of what that something is.  But if you had the chance to rock out to the group’s previous release, Legendary Demo, you’d be clued in to the heavy-ass bluesy party the group effects.  Where that disc had a delightful one-and-done approach, though, We Are Above You doesn’t exactly add what I’d call polish – this is still pure sweaty swagger – but the group branches out a helluva lot more, as though comfortable that their fly-by-night approach wont cause their output to evaporate overnight.  (Though, wouldn’t ya know, this was their last album.)

But back to the rock: Background aside, it’s confident musicianship and performance that guarantees this will be a good time from song one onward: The way the style shifts in and out of different spins on their genre – not showy – all for the momentum of the song – or the way the vocals can hit hardcore shrieks or poppy songalongs with the same sort of intuition.  As befitting the blues rock tag, the group definitely nabs from notables, whether it’s an amped up version of Grifters on opener Empires in Basements, or the lighter-flicking Zepp epic of Slow Day, but elsewhere they’re content to just hit the aggressive highs of fast-paced bar rock (Feed the Horse, Year Zero) or the downright dirty speed of a classic thrash sound (Motion of the Ocean, Horrification).  And there are echoes of other things here, for sure – The Bad Seat is like a Piebald track; Glass House Rocks recalls moments of both Cave In’s Creative Eclipses and the arena rock of Antenna – but the takeaway is that the synthesis into this cohesive, consistently rocking beast is all Clouds.

There’s perhaps a lyrical lacking, as we seem to be going more for mood than mind-blowing content, but that’s not to say some lines don’t peek out as cleverer than the norm.

Anyhow, my review is superfluous.  You’ll know this rocks as soon as you put it on.  So if you haven’t yet done so…

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