Cloudscape - Crimson Skies

Year of Release: 2006
Label: Metal Heaven
Catalog Number: 00020
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:40:00

The skies above the metal community have again become ominously overcast, but with a blood red hue. Cloudscape has returned with their second release, Crimson Skies, it seems with a purpose. Their self-titled debut album firmly entrenched them in the upper tier of melodic metal with bands like Royal Hunt and Last Tribe. Where those bands have failed, however, is where Cloudscape breaks free of the melodic mold and comes back with something a bit more sinister, a bit darker and definitely with more depth. The darker and more serious ambience is notable in both the brilliant artwork by Mattias Nor?n and the music. The happy, ultra-catchy choruses of the debut are gone, replaced with subtle, layered melodies, more keyboards and some previously unheard aggression.

With the opening sci-fi themed "Shapeshifter," they make bold and impressive statement with their heaviest song to date that immediately sets the tone for the rest of the album. Songs like "The Last Breath," "Psychic Imbalance," "Breach In My Sanity" and "Will We Remain" are perfect examples of a band branching out and experimenting with varying levels of progressiveness and heaviness with mostly positive results. Again, this is where Cloudscape makes its distinction, its complete willingness to evolve and to not release the same album year after year like many of their peers. Even using the same production team and studio, they do not sound the same. The production level on Crimson Skies is huge and considerably heavier than their previous work. This ability and willingness to mix up the formula will keep the band fresh for many, many years.

With the debut album, vocalist Mike Andersson gave a breakthrough performance that opened the door for no less than four other musical projects. He does not disappoint here either, as he has added a large dose of attitude to his already impressively soaring vocal lines. The vocal melodies on Crimson Skies are certainly darker and show a new range of depth and versatility between crystal clean and gruff, much in the vein of Russell Allen. Of course you don't get a heavier and more progressive sound with vocals alone, and guitarists Bjorn Eliasson and Patrick Svard are going to make sure you notice them as well. The twin guitar fury has been turned up big time here and they've obviously been given the green light to let it rip. It isn't often you hear guitarists who so seamlessly trade off riffs and leads like this. This is another example of a complete band and another way in which they separate themselves.

Cloudscape has gone from one of the best bands in Sweden to one of the best bands in the industry. They have proven beyond any doubt they are a force in not only the melodic metal community, but also the progressive world as well. While I'll admit to not liking this initially as much as the debut, it's grown on me and with repeated listens, I've unearthed and now fully appreciate all of the nuanced subtleties of a band that matches it's musical talents with it's musical integrity. They play exactly what they want and how they want without compromise, and the result will please fans of many genres. I would still like to see a little more variation in song structure, especially in the middle of the album, but overall this is a great step towards the future of the band and the future of melodic and progressive metal. Crimson Skies is equal parts musical talent, progressive vision and sincerity and is an essential release for 2006 and beyond.

Also released by Nightmare Records (NMR-262) in North America

Shapeshifter / Shadowland / And Then The Rain.../ Take The Blame / The Last Breath / Psychic Imbalance / Hope / Breach In My Sanity / Demon Tears / 1000 Souls/ Someone Else / Will We Remain

Mike Andersson - vocals and keyboards
Bj?rn Eliasson - guitar and keyboards
Patrik Sv?rd - guitar
Haynes Pherson - bass
Roger Landin - drums

demo (2003)
Cloudscape (2005)
Crimson Skies (2006)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: June 2nd 2006
Reviewer: Scott Pierce
Artist website:
Hits: 1157
Language: english


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