Monday, July 28, 2008

Absolutepunk Reviews Clouds' "We Are Above You!"

huge thanks to Tom Good and the entire Absolute Punk staff!

We Are Above You
(Hydra Head)

The last decade has been a series of different musical styles and trends. From metal core, to screamo, to the present singer-of-a-hard-band-grabs-acoustic-and-goes-solo movement, we have traversed almost every facet of the musical spectrum in just a short span of time. Through all of these underground movements, there is one element that has been nearly forgotten, shoved aside by shoegazing and a range of off kilter styles striving to be different: Rock. Rock used to be generalizable to music that wasn’t blues or country, now the term, like punk, can be broken into tons of subsets and dissected endless amounts by fans. The second full length from Clouds refuses to be pushed into a niche opting instead for a general melting pot of all different styles and influences that make up the term Rock n’ Roll.

The sludgy project formed by Adam McGrath of Cave In fame continues to improve upon the heavy distorted blues that peppered the bands last release, Legendary Demo. Rather than opting for speed metal riffs and fret board tapping, Clouds creates heaviness and molds it with catchiness to craft the balls out rock that harkens back to the mid nineties straightforwardness that is all but lost in the current music scene. That being said, We Are Above You contains something for almost every type of rock fan. “Feed The Horse” is a stoner rockers dream with its steady backbeat pulse and ambient guitar interplay under McGrath’s unique howl. The band takes advantage of sudden tempo shift to emphasize the significance of the harmonious chorus. “Motion In The Ocean” and “Heisenberg Says” wouldn’t be out of place in the 80’s hardcore movement. “Motion In The Ocean” in particular remains as the pinnacle of the album. Punctuated by locomotive snare rolls and ever changing guitar chords, the song is a hard rocker than is probably something to witness at a live show. The moments when Clouds lets themselves go and pick up the pace are the moments where the band truly shines. They can perform at slow tempos to varied success but these short and sweet tracks play well to the short attention spans of today’s music scene.

Despite these highly interesting moments, there are still a few tracks that just feel rushed and thrown in to vary up the sound a little bit. “Glass House Rocks” feels tacked on so that a softer song can give the listener time to breathe before the tempo speeds back up again. It’s not that the song is necessarily bad, it just doesn’t fit with the whole vibe of the record. We Are Above You, certainly a step up for Clouds, is an album that should be given a chance. It has it’s flaws and leaves a little to be desired on a few tracks but hey, what album doesn’t these days? At the very least it might reignite your love for the long forgotten simplicity of grunge, where attitude and the desire to play put the flashy 80’s metal guitar solos to rest. It’s not the second coming of grunge nor do Clouds necessarily want to take that torch, but what it is is a good solid rock album, plain and simple and a hell of a follow up to a promising debut.