The name Cloudscape conjours up images of placid, flowing, new agey pablum – however, that is not at all what this Swedish Prog/Power Metal band is about. Their latest, Voice of Reason on Dead End Exit Records might take you into the clouds, but it will be a Metal ride.
A variety of Metal tastes are here to greet you. From epic to proggy to straight ahead Metal. The implication of the word progressive is that there will be atmospheric moments mixed with shredtastic guitar playing, odd time signatures and unique song structures. While that is the case here at times, I find Cloudscape to be more on the Power Metal side of the Metal Venn diagram. The first four tracks are especially more in that particular vein. Opener A New Design has a great mix of elements that should appeal to most Power Metal fans – speed, relentless riffs, a soaring chorus. Singer Michael Andersson has an effective set of pipes and an excellent mid-range delivery, though he doesn’t seem to struggle to hit the higher notes. On this track, along with most of the others, Cloudscape hits the sweet spot when it comes to melodic, inspiring choruses. Futuristic Psycho, not as off the rails as you might think, has one of those wonderful choruses.
One might be led to think that a song with the title Don’t Close Your Eyes is a ballad. Not even close, save for a short softened instrumental passage about two thirds through. Third song in a row with a catchy melodic chorus. The band even goes down the Hard Rock path with the track All For Metal. Lighten it up slightly and it’s nearly an 80s Hair Metal song.
It isn’t until the 11 plus minute title track that Cloudscape really takes us down the Prog path. This is an expansive work covering a lot of ground from grandiose melodies to crunchy riffs. They really do a fantastic job of exploring their musical ideas but avoid overdoing it, even when bordering on a dozen minutes. The central atmospheric section is just the right amount of segue from the first to the second half of the song. It does sound like the guitar leads get lost in the mix and they could have been brought to the front a bit more for my taste. The other really Prog track is the nine and a half minute closer In Silence We Scream.
Check out A New Design:
Cloudscape has been around for a while, but this is my first experience with the Swedes and Voice of Reason has made me a fan. Toiling away in a genre that will likely never make them truly famous, Cloudscape deserves some of your attention.
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