February 2, 2016 Cloudscape – Voice of Reason (Album Review)
Google search the term ‘Cloudscape,’ and one will be inundated with images of clear blue skies peppered with pristine, fluffy white clouds and websites devoted to the art of appreciating said fluffiness. One may even find a website that serves as home to a vaping shop in Torrance, California. However, add the word ‘band’ to the end of that search term and internet searchers will be blessed with images, videos, and links to the majestically melodic Progressive Metal band known as Cloudscape. Hailing from Helsingborg, Sweden, these guys may just be the band that sadly goes under the radar for some Metal fans. Then again, they may also be the band to whom more in-tune listeners have already vowed all of their future road trips if it means being able to see them live. Either way, with Cloudscape, one discovers their remarkably crunchy guitars, masterful melodies, and dramatic bass lines difficult to get out of their head after just one listen.
Forming in 2001, it took the men of Cloudscape about a year to sign their first management deal. It was with Roastinghouse Productions that they released their unique, hard-hitting, self-titled debut album in 2004. With the existence of mind-blowingly powerful tracks like “Witching Hour,” “Slave,” and “Losing Faith,” it was not long before they grabbed the attention of German label Metal Heaven, and off they went. Likened to bands such as Dream Theater and Symphony X, Cloudscape spent the next ten years developing their signature sound and touring several countries, bending the ears and raising the horns of Metalheads everywhere. With their subsequent releases Crimson Skies (2006), Global Drama (2008), and New Era (2012), the band remained consistently aggressive and melodically superior through a handful of member changes. Coupled with a busy live show schedule, they continued to rock on, despite the fact still not having received the recognition they deserve within the Prog Metal community.
Fast-forward to 2016 and Cloudscape return with their latest offering, Voice of Reason, released on January 6st via Dead End Exit (a division of RoastingHouse Music). With the lineup of Vocalist Michael Andersson, Drummer Fredrik Joakimsson, Bassist Håkan Nyander, along with Guitarists Patrik Svärd and Stefan Rosqvist, Cloudscape attempts to return to their roots while embracing the ever-growing and morphing dynamic that exists in Progressive Metal. In fact, midway through the album, the title track is eleven-plus minutes of straight-up Progressive Metal grandeur, mildly reminiscent of a Marty Friedman-era Megadeth thanks to the guitar-dominant instrumental breaks placed throughout the song. Directly following, they certainly bring the actual thunder in “Thunders of Extreme,” a tune which has an intro which can only be compared to the feeling of standing on a mountain top in full Wizard regala, shooting lasers from one’s fingers, yes that dramatic.
Furthermore, all of Voice of Reason is filled with super-strong vocals by Andersson, powerful harmonies, and super-sick guitars to match, all intended to be a proverbial punch to the gut. Joakimsson fills it all in like a beast, carrying verse to chorus with a precision that will make one wish they could see Cloudscape live in an arena. As a whole, Voice of Reason seems designed to keep their audience in a state of absolute Rock euphoria with tracks like early album cuts “Futuristic Psycho” and “All for Metal.” Although, just when one thinks their head is going to explode, up cues the album closing track “In Silence We Scream,” a much slower, but equally tasty and wholly important piece. It is placed at the very end of the album, and is sort of the equivalent of a cigarette after a night of amazing love-making.
Overall, Voice of Reason is a well-produced album by Anders “Theo” Theander, to their Cloudscape’s credit, about as consistent with their vision of honoring their beginnings while embracing some new musical trickery as could ever be. For their fans, this album will be viewed as a collection of songs that would certainly make up a large part of a set list if they were to tour abroad, whether in an arena or a small venue. With all that said, this is a band that deserves exposure amongst Prog Metal lovers, and this fifth overall effort gets them there. CrypticRock gives Cloudscape’s Voice of Reason a stellar 4.5 out of 5 stars.