Back to the chill of Northern Europe for my reviews, although this time it's not Norway but Finland, and not a Eurovision winner in sight.
The Cloudycators are the band in question this time. The band are from Tampere and have been around for four years although this is their debut album.
As far as their sound goes, think Heavy Metal with a touch of thrash and add in a smattering of stadium rock sound. The result is a big sound, panoramic Heavy Metal, old school rock. The first ingredient that grabs you is the twin guitar attack, crunching, screaming and most importantly just downright melodic packed full of those rock riffs that get your feet tapping and your head banging. Pure energy matched by the rhythm section and powerful vocals to boot.
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But the thing is, you can have all that and more but everything just fades into mediocrity if the song writing isn't up to scratch. The Cloudycators can write songs, boy can they write songs, and that is what makes the musical elements stand out so much and when you have that you are half way there, although no prayer needed.
Take note oh lords of the music industry, I really don't care how well someone can sing, if there isn't the song writing to back it up it is all as pointless as the England cricket team getting on a plane to down under.
First up on this one is 'Animal' and as an opener it is a good choice. Guitars diving straight into the melodic, drums driving it along juggernaut like and vocals strong, powerful and very tuneful. As is human nature, the head always finds similarities to other bands or songs, however vague, but in this case that doesn't happen, they aren't exactly like any other band.
One in the eye for those who think this kind of music has been done to death; ironically that is what should happen to a few in the music industry today. The feel of the music does remind me of Norwegian's Audrey Horne, and given they are to my mind one of the most talented bands around, that is not a bad sound to have.
'Cenobite' comes at you with all the venom of a cobra and shows off almost immediately the wide scope of this band's talents, going into a Faith No More like vocal (and I mean FNM at their height), interspersed with grinding, melodic, riff laden guitars. Chorus matching the melodic impact of the guitars before the six stringers wind up with some ear crunching sounds.
'Cum Out And Play' is a little calmer in its beginnings, sorrowful melody, before morphing into the menacing without changing the tempo of the song, clever indeed. Pre chorus chanting in the background before chorus kicks in, a little Alice Cooper like, melodic, catchy, powerful and then back to the meance. Guitars coming piling in towards the end until it all stops as suddenly as it started, superb stuff.
'Cuntkiller' is, errrmmm, next. Hold onto your hats and ladies grab hold of something a little lower down all together. "Your flesh provokes and excites" gives you the idea, but in a way this is not the sort of song you would expect from the title. Filled with powerful, soulful vocals, bursting over the pounding rhythm section before full blooded chorus. Changes of tempo, guitars speeding to the heavier end of their spectrum then back to the chorus again before grandstand ending. A very well crafted song.
It's OK ladies - you can let go now.
'Drunken Easy Night' could go hand in hand with the previous song, not musically, just in name. Maybe that doesn't reflect well on my debaucherous youth but drunken easy night it is. "Sitting on the sidewalk with this bottle the best friend of mine" is something many of us can relate too. You can replace sidewalk with whatever fits.
Vocals are again soulful, but at the same time aggressive, guitars kick in, melodic chorus again, almost anthemic in its essence. Intriguing and well thought out guitar backing to the vocals and rhythm section before the chorus kicks in, there is a lot going on in this one and you won't pick it all up on first listen. There is even time for the song to almost head off in the more thrashy direction, signs of influences covering the whole spectrum of rock.
'Dusty Forms' is next up, and I can think of absolutely no sex or drinking related innuendo with this one so I won't even try – relieved, eh?
Approximately 0.25 seconds after this one kicks in, your foot will start tapping, just to warn you. Raunchy, sleazy and dirty, the now accustomed vocals against a rhythm band before the sleaze takes over again. Another track with layers a plenty, drums behind it all hurrying the track along, the foot tapping going involuntarily into overdrive, pure bar room stomp.
'Land Of The Cloudycators' is naturally enough the title track and moves along with all the speed of an express train, funky and heavy, loud and brash, screaming guitars, vocals filled with intent. A little touch of the Faith no Mores again, but that is all it is, a little touch. More than any other track, this one is almost a showcase for the band's talents, but maybe strangely the best on the album is yet to come.
'Pennywise' is that track that to my ears is the standout on the album. Loud and crunching guitars bring the track in, vocals kicking in, pounding, off beat drums, chorus a lesson in melody.
A couple of chorus' later, tempo drops, military drum, melancholy guitar, vocals with feeling before it rises back up. The whole feel then shifts, guitars to the fore, funky, piledriving riffs. Now that's how you write Metal.
'Wandering' is the closest thing to a ballad on the album, but it is a ballsy affair. Acoustic start, deep, thoughtful, emotion charged voice before the rest of the band join in the fun, heavy guitars in the middle before coming back down, that is until the crescendo at the end.
So to the final track on an impressive album 'When Rain Comes Down', a fitting song title this year at any rate. Starting off very much in classic rock mode, growling vocals – picture if you will Jorn on speed, before morphing into something a whole lot heavier, and then back again. The shift between the two styles works very well indeed; another well thought out and written song.
So there you have it. A really rather good album, and as a debut it is stunning. There is so much to it, musicians who have clearly mastered their craft, vocalist with the power and feel to sing just about anything and most importantly, as I already mentioned, great song writing.
Their influences lead to a melting pot of rock and it does mix very well. Whilst some of the song titles may lead to lack of radio play, decent rock music is pretty much ignored over here by the mainstream media in any case so it probably will have little or no effect.
All in all another plus in the ever increasing list of Scandinavian bands who should by rights be a lot bigger than they are. With this lot, watch this space...