Cloudscape - Cloudscape

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Metal Heaven
Catalog Number: MH00004
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:00:00

You know you've just listened to a great album when you know the melodies and choruses after just the first spin. Such is the sonic treasure that is Cloudscape's self-titled debut album, a montage of riff-heavy melodic metal and an incredibly diverse, rich atmosphere. This is the latest offering in the Swedish melodic metal scene and is cut from the same cloth as many of its Scandinavian predecessors and adds quite a few new and heavier elements. With such a wide range of bands and albums available today, it's near impossible to write a review without using comparisons to other bands, and it holds true for this album. The best, and perhaps simplest, description would be a combination of Last Tribe, Royal Hunt and Europe. While this album does not sound exactly like any of those bands, it certainly pays homage to and improves on a few elements those bands are lacking, specifically the in-your-face guitar.

Produced by Anders "Theo" Theander, a well-known sound master within the progressive and melodic metal community, the results are just short of stunning. He and the band have created a huge wall of sound by perfectly blending punishing guitar riffs and atmospheric keyboards while maintaining a thundering bottom end. In the hands of a lesser producer, this would have been a muddy, jumbled mess. Instead, we have an auditory and almost sensory overload of metal sure to please many fans of many genres. In fact, this is where the band separates itself from the rest, its ability to bridge the gaps between the melodic and the progressive while maintaining roots in both. The interplay between crunchy guitar licks and the intricate and subtle keyboard parts form a tight, cohesive union. I would have liked a bit more variety between the songs in the guitar tonal quality and sound and maybe some acoustical passages, but I say that about nearly every release. Overall, the quality of the production on this release is easily equal to anything in the genre, period.

Vocalist Micael Andersson truly puts himself into the music and the song with his heartfelt lyrics and intensely melodic delivery. His ability to switch up styles, sometimes within a particular song, makes him one of the more versatile singers in the business today. While slightly similar in tone to Joey Tempest and John West, his shining moments are the grittier and angrier songs on which he emotes a Russ Allen quality, something definitely missing from their 2003 demo recordings. Mike added the missing heavy element in his style of metal and gave it bite, gave it depth. He really absorbed all of the demo feedback regarding his work and showed the world he deserves to be mentioned along with the best in the industry. I'd have to agree.

Musically, this album is a whirlwind of ripping, in-your-face guitar riffage. While not overly heavy, there is an aggression to the guitar tandem of Patrik Svard and Björn Eliasson that is absent in most of melodic metal, including the aforementioned bands. The first three songs on this album, "As The Light Leads The Way," "Under Fire" and "Aqua 275" are blistering examples of what can be accomplished when two guitarists are in synch and can just flat out play. Driving, heavy rhythms and tasty leads are to be found throughout, and that is both good and bad. While each song is excellent in its own right, there is a formulaic feeling in the middle songs of the album. This is no way detracts from the quality of the album, it just shows the enormous potential for varied song structures in future releases from this talented band.

"Theo" has created a very deep sound with the band and it's evident at the bottom end. He could make me sound good on bass and I can play exactly three notes. His skills are obviously highlighted by the slick bass of Hans Persson and drumming of Roger Landin. Roger's drum work is more subtle than the rest of the band, yet speaks volumes. While most would resort to constant double-bassing the faster songs, he opted to go more for the snare and cymbal work. It pays off big time as this is the kind of drumming needed for these songs.

The final result and analysis is Cloudscape, with it's debut album, belongs in the upper echelon of melodic, slightly progressive bands. They are definitely one of the best acts in all of Sweden and have released one of the best melodic albums in recent memory. This will definitely hit all the right notes for fans of what I call melodiprog. From the incredible artwork of Mattias Norén to the slick packaging to the final note, this album screams pure class and will find itself, despite it's early release, in many voter's top ten lists for 2005. This is nearly as good as melodic metal can get and is certainly one of the finest albums I've reviewed in a long, long time. I have looked to the horizon and to the future of melodic metal, and it's a bit ? well, cloudy.

As Light Leads the Way / Under Fire / Aqua 275 / Witching Hour / In These Walls / Out of the Shadows / Everyday Is Up To You / Dawn of Fury / Slave / The Presence of Sprits / Scream / Losing Faith

Patrik Sv?rd - guitar
Bj?rn Eliasson - guitar
Michael Andersson - vocals and keyboards
Hans Persson - bass
Roger Landin - drums

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

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: February 19th 2005
Reviewer: Scott Pierce
Artist website:
Hits: 1067
Language: english


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