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Cloudkicker - The Discovery CD (album) cover



Experimental/Post Metal

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4 stars Right off the bat I'd like to say that though this album may not appeal to all fans of progressive rock, I find that there is a distinct Meshuggah inspired style here which everyone should at least explore, and for this reason I have awarded it four stars. What I love most about Cloudkicker is that it's not a 100% rip off of Meshuggah; it's a unique take on that style with a healthy doses of melody and atmosphere. This album abounds with that atmosphere, and as a whole it flows extremely well, almost as if it were one song. When I put this album on I rarely don't finish it; it's a very "complete" work. There aren't any extra songs that don't belong; it's all concentrated rhythmic goodness.

Genesis Device: This track opens the album with a droning siren which leads straight into a heavily syncopated and driving rhythm. It's a short track but it's sufficient as the album's intro.

Dysphoria: This song is definitely my favorite of the album. Awesome opening riff with some nice droning guitars in the background. I really like how he layers the clean guitar parts of the syncopated rhythms on this track. Nice texture all over this song.

Avalanche: Killer rhythms right after another on this one. After a cool break a little past midway in the song, we are led up into a very "epic" ending. Another great track.

Everything's Mirrors: This is a short 2:02 track that is just clean guitar drenched with delay and playing a neat little repeating melody. Some guitar harmonics enter and the beauty is astounding. It serves as a nice rest from the chaos of the heavier songs and is very pleasant to listen to.

Viceroy: A slow, churning rhythm starts off this track. This track is very streamlined -- there's a chance that the prog fan with a short attention span may get a little bored here. It's a nice track none the less with that is very typical of Cloudkicker.

Segue: This song is almost like an Everything's Mirrors pt. 2. It's clean all clean guitar again playing another great melody -- both this track and Everything's Mirrors are very characteristic of post-rock. As the title suggests, it acts as a segue to the next song.

The Discovery: A couple of typical Cloudkicker rhythms and riffs, and then an awesome drum driven section that leads the way. The gain on the guitar is backed way down and the atmospheric droning in the background is quiet audible. It builds and builds in intensity and then finally hits one of the best parts of the whole album. It's a droning and flying melody over the top of a driving rhythm which is completely awe-inspiring.

Covington: Another post-rockish track albeit this time with more drumming. These little tracks are great segues to the heavy songs as I said earlier. It makes the piece as a whole more comprehensible and it allows the album the breathe nicely.

Triumvirate!: This is a really short catchy track, only 1:04 long. It's a great track but there's not much here.

States: This track starts with an affirmative rhythm, almost as if it's letting you know that it's going to end the album strongly. Another drum driven rhythm part, similar to the one in The Discovery, leads into a powerful riff which itself is bookended by a melodic line that slowly fades out to end the album.

Overall I'd say that this album is extremely consistent in quality throughout. Though some may become impatient with the rhythms that are all played in a similar style, it is essential that we take these riffs and rhythms as individuals and recognize that they all have something unique to say. The lighter post-rock style tracks really make this album a pleasure to listen to, as they prevent the stagnation that many bands in this genre tend to fall into.

Report this review (#253897)
Posted Tuesday, December 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I remember the first time I listened to this album. Starting with the air-raid sirens screaming through the intro "Genesis Device," I knew this album was going to be what I was looking for. For the longest time, I had been starved to find some new, exciting and original musical niche. Cloudkicker not only presented me with something I had never heard before, but I'll be damned if it wasn't one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. There's just something about the Meshuggah-laden schizophrenic riffing and the dense, atmospheric layering on this album that makes me weep whenever I hear it. The sound is so full that it's like listening to a symphony with nothing but sweeping guitars and intense drumming. All of the full songs on this album are perfect or near to it. "Dysphoria" in particular stands out as a legitimately perfect song--it packs so much catharsis-inducing songwriting into such a small space that at the end I couldn't believe I had been listening for less than five minutes. The title track, "The Discovery," is one of the few pieces I know that can get away with repeating the same riff for more than five minutes and make you love it. Cloudkicker's songwriting just seems to be impeccable. Even the segues on the album are nigh perfect. In fact, one of the only things I can say against this album is that "Triumvirate!" leaves such an intense impression that I need more. You want to know what's better? The whole effing album is free. I see absolutely no reason why every prog fan should not own this album.
Report this review (#271620)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'The Discovery' - Cloudkicker (7/10)

Beginning with an ill sense of calm, the wail of an air raid leads into the first wave of trademark djenty chaos that defines Cloudkicker. A few minutes it, you get a sense of what this album is about; taking the atonal, highly mathematical crushing rhythms that bands like Meshuggah have done before, and replacing abrasive vocals with underlying atmosphere and melody. Being that Meshuggah has always been a band I was never able to enjoy too much for it's abrasive vocals and lack of apparent melody, Cloudkicker seems like a gift from the clouds above, allowing me to enjoy math metal without any of the initial flaws to the formula that turned me off.

While you're going to need a tough ear to listen to the whole palette of madness in one listen, I find that melodies and 'mellow break' interludes are placed in just the right places; sort of like 'checkpoints' in an otherwise delightfully messy journey.

While it's going to sound like 'noise' to those not yet accustomed to the nuances and technique of this little genre, the stuff really is brilliant, if but a little samey throughout. It really takes a genius at the helm to make each instrument play in a different time, and yet still have it come together into something cohesive.

The highlight tracks are certainly 'Dysphoria' and the title track 'Discovery.' The other heavy tracks- while keeping up the same level of mathematical proficiency- end up not acheiving the marriage of melody and rhythm that those two do. The latter of the tracks mentioned works out to be around seven or eight minutes long, and has an entire portion devoted to a hypnotizing exercise in atmosphere; a crescendo that leads back into the typical heaviness, only making the heaviness sound even heavier in contrast.

The EPs this one-man project has delved out have very little, if not nothing on this. Ben Sharp has fashioned a remarkably solid debut creation here, and while a little bit of exploration outside his supposed 'comfort zone' would do wonders for the sophomore, this is a piece of music that has been quite enjoyable to listen to.

Report this review (#281654)
Posted Wednesday, May 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Post Rock Djent Hybrid is Pure Pleasure

Of all the bands to spawn an entire new genre, Meshuggah is that last one I would have picked. I was not a big fan of the first examples I heard of the Djent sound ("Bleed" from obZen) though I certainly recognized there was something new and intense in the music. The hyper precise down-tuned math metal has spread and while I still dislike the version with harsh/screamed lyrics, some of the instrumental versions of Djent are the freshest things happening in music right now.

Cloudkicker is the name for the instrumental djent project of home recording artist BM Sharp. (There are actually several one man projects in the genre). Sharp leans heavily on post-rock ideas and the atmospheric quality melded with brutal riffing makes both sounds better. Cloudkicker's debut, THE DISCOVERY, is in my opinion his best work because of it is the most hybrid. While there are great riffs and furious technique on this album, it is most of all a sonic adventure. It is a scene, it is images, it is MUSIC!!! While a lot of post-rock (and virtually all post-metal) bores me to tears, the riffs add energy to the builds and drops. Conversely, unlike every other piece of metal I've ever listened to, this album virtually never makes me think as a guitar player. And the guitar playing is phenomenal. When I finish this album, I feel like I've been taken on a great journey.

This is a 4+ album that I'm just not quite ready to push into masterpiece rating. But only the Animals as Leaders album is better in the whole genre, and that includes the entire Meshuggah catalog. Nothing even from Sharp himself has matched his debut. Sometimes the freshness of the ideas gives a piece of music a special kind of life and I believe that is the case on THE DISCOVERY.

Report this review (#341808)
Posted Friday, December 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Haunting ambiance is the key. Thou shalt praise Ben Sharp's debut for its beauty, despite numerous imperfections. The soul of the album is, in my humble opinion, the most important part of musical creation - Ben Sharp knows that. I know that too, and I'm a slave of this rule.

THE DISCOVERY is an instrumental post metal, intriguing blend of disturbing/doom atmosphere and djent. Cloudkicker draws extensively on Meshuggah's twisted ideas to create its own, original interpretation of the style. Sharp uses the poly-rhythmical side of the style but its discordant facet is mostly tamed - an ephemeral atmosphere has precedence over an atonal chaos (which is actually very atmospheric in its own way). The album, with its heavy, bass drum-based riffs in the foreground and disturbing, ephemeral high pitched guitar in the background, make up very consistent creation and provide enjoyable listen.

However, with all its shining merits, THE DISCOVERY is not free of flaws. Having worked out his own style, Sharp don't even try to diversify it. Songs are atmospheric but stiffly composed; interesting but hermetic and repetitive at times. There are some great soft interludes of course, but it's not enough to change the impression of uniformity. Therefore THE DISCOVERY is interesting yet at times tiresome experience - divided in parts tastes much better. Another thing is the production. Sharp saw to it that everything sounds relatively clear but some higher frequencies sound... well, sharp. Especially drums, which are fake by the way, are to be blamed for that.

This is a haunting and inventive record - there is talent, originality, beauty, heart. I highly recommend to give it a listen, at least once.

PS.: The album is available for free by the way. "Dysphoria" recommended as quick check on YT. Enjoy.

Report this review (#412715)
Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Cloudkicker's The Discovery is an instrumental barrage of metal. The imposing, only occasionally interrupted wall of sound sometimes grows tedious, but never horrendous. It is recommended to those who like extreme metal but cannot tolerate growling. The dredg-like intervals wisely inject a measure of emotion and sonic diversity into the album.

"Genesis Device" Emergency sirens blare, warning the innocent of the impending thrashing of guitars and drums.

"Dysphoria" What makes this an outstanding bit of metal are the subtle bends and slides from the electric guitars. Something about the second half makes it sounds like heavy metal Styx.

"Avalanche" No snow is coming down here; instead, it's a cataclysm of thunderous guitar noise interspersed with eerie quiet.

"Everything's Mirrors" Passing into quieter, more melodic music, this delay-laden piece breathes and invigorates what was heretofore a good but somewhat stuffy metal album.

"Viceroy" After the beautiful interlude from space, Cloudkicker reenters the atmosphere and plows into the earth with more heavy mayhem. A battery of drums floods the middle section.

"Segue:" As the title implies, this is an interlude. It whispers underwater-like tones and pulls the focus away from metal altogether, treating the listener to an Enya-like new age experience.

"The Discovery" A bit predictably, the lengthy title track launches right back into the hefty, coarseness after a tender respite. I appreciate the variations in the rhythm, particularly with the bass drum.

"Covington" The third of the softer, delay-inspired clean guitar intervals serves the album well, and is, I find, the most like dredg.

"Triumverate!" Here is sixty-three seconds of energized and rhythmically interesting metal.

"States" The final track maintains its heavy metal exterior, but it stands out from the others because it has a hollow center; that is to say, the middle passage of the music has much less intensity.

Report this review (#768291)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2012 | Review Permalink

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