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CLOUDKICKER

Experimental/Post Metal • United States


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Cloudkicker biography
CLOUDKICKER is an instrumental progressive metal solo project of Ben Sharp from Columbus, Ohio. He's released his debut album "The Discovery" in 2008 and an EP "The Map is Not the Territory" in 2009.

CLOUDKICKER writes, records, mixes and masters his own work and has made them available for free download at http://cloudkicker.uk.googlepages.com/. The downloads are available in high quality MP3 and FLAC.

WHY THIS BAND IS IN THE ARCHIVES:

CLOUDKICKER rhythmically, is heavily influenced by "Nothing" and "Catch Thirty-Three" era MESHUGGAH. Many of the fundamental drum patterns and the heavy use of syncopation should feel instantly familiar to the fans of either of the above albums, as well as the ultra-tight gridlock between the drums and guitars. However, on top of the angular riffing and the mechanical rhythmic patterns are layers upon layers of atmospheric melody that makes this music come across as some kind of ethereal math-metal/post-metal hybrid. Think a mixture of the rhythmic permutations of MESHUGGAH, the strangely dystopian melodic flights of TEXTURES ("Drawing Circles" more so than any other album), and the winding atmospherics of bands like ISIS and LONG DISTANCE CALLING. They were approved by the Prog Metal Team and are very highly recommended!

::Biography info provided by Boris (asmox)::

Cloudkicker official website

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CLOUDKICKER discography


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CLOUDKICKER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.94 | 40 ratings
The Discovery
2008
3.52 | 46 ratings
Beacons
2010
3.94 | 40 ratings
Fade
2012
3.92 | 12 ratings
Subsume
2013

CLOUDKICKER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CLOUDKICKER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CLOUDKICKER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CLOUDKICKER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.55 | 16 ratings
The Map Is Not The Territory
2009
3.35 | 18 ratings
Portmanteau
2009
3.38 | 22 ratings
]]][[[ (aka A New Heavenly Body)
2010
3.50 | 6 ratings
You and Yours
2010
3.80 | 15 ratings
Let Yourself Be Huge
2011
2.56 | 9 ratings
Loop
2011
1.75 | 8 ratings
Hello
2013

CLOUDKICKER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fade by CLOUDKICKER album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.94 | 40 ratings

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Fade
Cloudkicker Experimental/Post Metal

Review by caedes

5 stars Another great album by the one-man-project Cloudkicker. Ben Sharp definitely has matured in his songwriting and, as the two previous works "Beacons" and "Let yourself be huge" already showed, brings more and more variety in his newer songs. While the Math-Metal influence was still strong in Beacons, we now get less riffs and more beautiful multi-layered guitar melodies. Maybe "Fade" is the most accessible of his albums, but not because of a lack of complexity. This time, the complexity is in the nuances of the composition and the true "idea" of a song became clear to me only after hearing the album multiple times. Sharps' skills at the guitars and the bass are magnificient and the drums, even though they are programmed, don't sound out of place and contribute well to the overall experience. If you're into Post Rock/Metal or any similar genre, you have to listen to this album, and visit Cloudkicker's bandcamp page!

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 ]]][[[ (aka A New Heavenly Body) by CLOUDKICKER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
3.38 | 22 ratings

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]]][[[ (aka A New Heavenly Body)
Cloudkicker Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars This unpronounceable EP from Cloudkicker, ]]][[[ (shall we call it "Inverted Brackets?"), begins with easygoing drums, slightly toasted guitar, and a steady bass underneath on "#" ("Pound sign" or, in this day and age, "Hashtag"). It has an uplifting feeling that gives way to a sleepy, sadder passage. But wake up- a frenzied onslaught is around the corner. After the first track dries up, the odd rhythms of "%" ("Percent") pounce upon the hearer, producing a rising, post-rock wash. The third and final track, "$" ("Dollar") is the most intense, with a pummeling salvo of guitars and drums. It eventually settles into a more relaxing post-rock fashion. The final moments return to blistering turmoil. For a few morsels of Cloudkicker, ]]][[[ is a fine place to turn.

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 The Discovery by CLOUDKICKER album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.94 | 40 ratings

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The Discovery
Cloudkicker Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Epignosis
Special Collaborator 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.

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 Beacons by CLOUDKICKER album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.52 | 46 ratings

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Beacons
Cloudkicker Experimental/Post Metal

Review by broseidon

2 stars As others have said, it's good, but not in a different or innovative in any way. However, I would be more impressed if it was a finished backing track for lead parts. It seems prog gets thrown around a lot, like "oh it has weird timing and it was written down, that must make this prog" and I can see how this album has made it's way on here, but like a couple I have a pretty big gripe with this one. No Solos, I've listened to it several times and I'm certain I didn't miss it. I don't understand how this dude can come up with all this good material and not include one measly solo, not even an attempt! I want to enjoy it, I really do, but this Djent stuff is getting old quick. 2 stars.

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 Beacons by CLOUDKICKER album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.52 | 46 ratings

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Beacons
Cloudkicker Experimental/Post Metal

Review by bartosso

3 stars Silent film

I have really mixed feelings about that record. Cloudkicker's second album, BEACONS, is undoubtedly very interesting effort and given the fact it's released for free, it's even more awkward to rate it with 3 stars. I promise, I'll explain myself. But now for something completely different...

Damn those tricky one-man baaands! They use computer generated drums and think they're cool. Well, they are. Cloudkicker is anyway. Both his drums, guitars and bass sound convincing. As for drums, they're not as realistic as drum set from hell in CATCH 33 by Meshuggah but still realistic enough. Guitars feel a bit too sterile for my tastes but the fact they're heavy and perfectly executed is undeniable. For a homemade album the sound is just amazing.

Less original and more personal yet still technical. That simple phrase describes the music in BEACONS pretty well, but I'll elaborate on the subject in order to seem more intelligent. So, despite being an instrumental collection of songs, BEACONS is a concept album with a story told in... song titles! It's a story about a plain crash, or should I say a desperate report from the crew, just before the crash. I must say that's what's best in the album - dramatic tension that pervades the whole concept is thrilling. It's like a silent film created with sounds instead of images. Stylistically, Cloudkicker went completely opposite way of what I've expected though. Instead of developing his progressive side, Ben Sharp focused on drama and more traditional approach to riffs and melody. So-called djent is still there, but now it's more of a spice than a defining factor. Don't get me wrong, it's an album loaded with excellent riffs and emotion provoking build-ups ("Amy, I love you" shines here) but its repetitious nature makes it tiresome just too many times.

All in all, BEACONS is a solid album with some great features and some really bad ones too. It's still among the best records in djent as it presents a new approach to the style unlike the mass of young djent bands that have nothing interesting to offer (besides making Meshugah's style more accessible and melodic). If you're into post metal, you may love it. Well, get it to find out, it's free anyway!

TRACKS BY RATINGS: 8/10[great]: Amy, I love you.; Push it way up! || 7/10[very good]: We're goin' in. We're going down.; ...it's just wide-open field.; It's bad. We're hit, man, we are hit. || 6/10[good]: Oh, god.; We were all scared. || 5/10[not bad]: Here, wait a minute! Damn it!; I admit it now. I was scared.; untitled ||

-- Originally posted on METALMUSICARCHIVES.com --

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 The Discovery by CLOUDKICKER album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.94 | 40 ratings

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The Discovery
Cloudkicker Experimental/Post Metal

Review by bartosso

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.

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 Beacons by CLOUDKICKER album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.52 | 46 ratings

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Beacons
Cloudkicker Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Gorloche

4 stars I normally despise djent. I love MESHUGGAH and mathy textures and angular rhythms, of course, being that I'm on a prog website. But the subsubsubsub-genre takes way too much from a single band's sound to really do anything for me. And the only doses of other sounds typically come from metalcore, a genre I just cannot deal with at all.

So along comes CLOUDKICKER. His first album, THE DISCOVERY, was passed along to me by some friends who know that I like the heavier end of music, and I applauded them for their efforts, but it didn't quite hit the mark. The sounds felt a bit too derivative for me, sticking much closer to "traditional djent" boundaries. I've since changed my opinion of the album, but at the time, it didn't register very high.

Jump forward a couple years later. A different friend sends me a link to listen to Cloudkicker's newest, BEACONS, for free. I figured I deserved to give him another shot; not because I liked The Discovery, which I didn't, but because my friend gave a glowing review of the album. I was hesitant, but I decided to go for.

What I found was unlike what I was expecting: There are angular textures, sure, but this focuses much more on post-metal atmospherics and textural guitar playing. Gone are the out-of-place metalcorish clean tones, replaced with a satisfying distortion. It causes all of the guitar lines to bleed together, but not in the sense of diluting them. Instead, it's more like... say, cutting an oak down and looking at the rings. They are clearly separate, but also part of one thing. These lines feel like they would be weak alone, but together make a surprisingly minimalistic sound. There are lots of bits, but none of them sound terribly complex, working more as complementary simple components. The shorter tracks tend to be these thick guitar textures acting as more melodic pieces, offering him room for simple but very emotive clean guitar work. The longer tracks tend to be more atmospheric and groove-oriented, offering something akin to MOGWAI at their heaviest (see: MY FATHER, MY KING) or ISIS, possibly even ROSETTA STONE.

All in all, this is a fantastic piece of music, and considering that you can get it for free, there is no reason for someone not to have this. I paid for a CD because it was 10 dollars and the music is wonderful, but that's because I love album artwork and things. Chuck the guy a couple bucks. He deserves it for this wonderful album.

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 Beacons by CLOUDKICKER album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.52 | 46 ratings

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Beacons
Cloudkicker Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Losing Steam, We're Going Down, Mayday!

One man djentleman Ben Sharp, aka Cloudkicker, named most of the songs on this album after lines that might be uttered in the cockpit of crashing plane. While the explosion is not imminent, BEACONS feels like a vessel that's running out of steam. I loved Sharp's first offering, THE DISCOVERY, and he's certainly continued to create some solid music on subsequent EPs and now this, his second full album. But there's something missing. The riffs are actually tighter, the production is a little sharper, but ironically, there's actually less sense of danger on this record than this first. Where the DISCOVERY really seemed to take me on an emotional journey, I often find that BEACONS has played all the way through and I didn't even notice it.

For newcomers to Cloudkicker, don't be scared off. Sharp makes some of the best djent / post- rock fusion out there, and it's free! (well if you want it to be, voluntary pricing). I prefer his work alot to related artist Chimp Spanner, and Sharp has disposed almost completely with most of the djent movement's metalcore leanings. The music is moody and atmospheric, but heavy. It's what post-metal was meant to be, and occasionally approaches. But it's better. The riffs are more interesting, the passages less monotonous (most of the time), and the musicianship obviously very careful. This last element, one of the most specific and common of all the math- metal types, is what really grabs me. There is nothing sloppy here at all, and unfortunately many metal bands delight in their slop.

I've read that BEACONS is actually Sharp's most atmospheric and varied album to date and on very careful listen it is. As is common, as I give closer attention, my inclination is to move my rating from a 2 to a 3. Sharp is still giving us good stuff. He's certainly matured a bit, but the process has robbed as much fire as it has added nuance for this particular listener. Others clearly disagree.

I've made my point. Get THE DISCOVERY first, move forward. If you enjoy that, you'll still get something out of BEACONS.

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 Beacons by CLOUDKICKER album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.52 | 46 ratings

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Beacons
Cloudkicker Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Bonnek
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars Cloudkicker is a one-man metal project around Ben Sharp, a gifted musician with a good ear for details, delivering an album that sounds surprisingly organic, mature and professional for these types of one-man endeavors.

The music can be roughly described as modern instrumental metal, incorporating the technical riffery and syncopated rhythms that were introduced in metal by the Prog Metal bands from 20 years ago. These things have since become rather "mainstream" or better "standard" in today's metal so whether this is still progressive or not has already been contested on this page and is indeed up for debate. At least it has a certain level of originality in fusing math metal with post-rock. Also the fact that it's instrumental makes it more arty then your normal metal platter.

The quality of the material on the other hand is not up for debate. It's downright good and entertaining throughout, incorporating the math-metal and atmospheric post-rock aspects into nicely moody and harmonious pieces such as Push It Way Up! and the album's highlights It's Bad, We're Hit and Amy I Love You. But at times I miss a good vocal that could make the material more memorable and distinguishable.

More kudos go to the tasty artwork and the altruistic distribution methods of the artist, who spreads his music through his website for whatever amount you wish to pay. It's probably the way of the future, but even though I almost exclusively listen to mp3, I still prefer to have a real physical copy of the music, it's just so much more fun browsing through real CDs then opening a bunch of files in Windows Explorer or one or other media library.

Anyway I'm getting carried away. And the reason is that, even though I think this album is very craftily made, it can't fully capture my unwavering attention as it misses that little extra that would push it to exceptional. 3.5 stars it is.

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 ]]][[[ (aka A New Heavenly Body) by CLOUDKICKER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
3.38 | 22 ratings

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]]][[[ (aka A New Heavenly Body)
Cloudkicker Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Negoba
Prog Reviewer

3 stars EP Holds Less Attention then Previous Entire Album

BM Sharp (Cloudkicker) is a one-man djent machine, putting out two albums and 3 EPs in the last 3 years. ]]][[[ is perhaps the most strangely named album of all time, and contains three songs also with key-symbol names. After being thoroughly impressed with Sharp's debut album, I picked up this album with high expectations. Alas, though there were a few new variations on the Cloudkicker theme, for the most part this was a less fully realized project. The sound was there, but it didn't grab hold and transport me.

The Cloudkicker sound is a mix of post-rock slow build dynamic and atmospheric mood music combined with detuned riffing inspired by Meshuggah. As the djent genre has evolved, the artists have developed their own sounds and their brutal godfather is less evident. Sharp's sound has become a bit more technical and guitar oriented, and unfortunately a bit less moody. On the first track (#), the typical repetitiveness of post-rock sets a bad tone right away. Rather than setting a mood, the music leaves my ear wandering. At about 2:30 a distorted bass comes in growling like a lurking leopard, and a minute later we finally get some riffing. While also repetitive, the complexity and intensity keep the interest and finally Sharp has me back.

Track 2 (%) has a phenomenal central harmonic theme that takes a bit too long to build. When it finally reaches its full glory at 3:30, the sound is truly ecstatic, and again I get a glimpse of the musical beauty that I saw in the debut album. A short outro is similarly brilliant, which leaves me wondering what he was thinking when he composed the piece. Almost four minutes of repetition, building layer by layer a climax, with a great but tacked on outro. Hmm. Track 3 ($) begins as a metal riff fest, and satisfies that guitarist in me perhaps more than anything else I've heard from Sharp. The song takes a break into a lower trippy section before ending on a frenetic metal race into a dirgish dragging march riff. Certainly the EP ends much better than it began.

All in all, a solid outing. Not as good as THE DISCOVERY, certainly much more uneven. Easily deserving of 3/5 stars.

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Thanks to Plankowner for the artist addition. and to harmonium for the last updates

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