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Cloudscape: Crimson Skies

Cloudscape's debut album in 2005 gained a lot of positive reviews from dozens of websites raving about it as a fantastic piece of melodic metal effort with moments that might also interest fans of progressive music. It's a shame I never got around to checking it out. Therefore I have no idea how their new disc compares to it, but somehow, after hearing the amazing songwriting and musical performance on it, I'm inclined to believe they have really outdone themselves.

Now, less than two years later, the Swedish band returns with their sophomore release, Crimson Skies. Led by vocalist and main composer Mike Andersson whose voice I really enjoyed on the recent Marcel Coenen album, Cloudscape is a band in the vein of Valley's Eve, Lanfear, and perhaps Lion's Share. The first thing that strikes me about Crimson Skies is its amazing production, handled by none other than Anders Theander whose work with Pain of Salvation is magical. Actually the album was produced by Pontus Lindmark and Theander is credited as the executive producer. Even though Cloudscape sounds nothing like Pain of Salvation, there are some sonic similarities between the two bands' songs. For example, the drum tone on "And Then the Rain...", a powerful tune with passionate vocals and gripping melodies, is akin to the stuff on Remedy Lane; or "Take the Time" also reveals Theander's vision of hypnotic synth playing with ethereal atmospherics and excellent lead guitar and piano work respectively. Guitarist Patrik Svard's tone is smooth and fluid, and utterly engaging. A bit like Last Tribe in this respect, Svard's axework is there to improve the music, not to showboat. His strength mainly lies in swift chord progressions and melodic content.

Central to the album are the catchy choruses by Mike Andersson, on cuts like the terrific album opener "Shapeshifter", littered with distinctive keys and crunchy guitars; "Shadowland" with great vocal harmonies and backing vocals by bassist Haynes Pherson; or the more proggy number "Psychic Imbalance", which begins with dark keyboard notes before launching into a concentrated prog assault with lots of reverb-induced vocals. Similarly, "Hope" features plenty of tempo shifts, ominous rhythms (what a fantastic bass sound!), and acoustic passages laced with some of the most articulate lead guitar playing melodic metal fans will see. The keyboard work by Andersson and Eliasson is particularly impressive, especially on the more challenging tracks such as "1000 Souls" (I love the shredding keys beneath the main melody); the more classically-driven "The Last Breath", with a very melodious edge; or the addictive "Will We Remain", featuring beautiful female vocals to provide contrast and dynamics.

Cloudscape have released a very accomplished album in the form of Crimson Skies. Melodic metal doesn't get better than this. By the way, Mattias Noren's artwork is stunning as well.

Track Listing

  1. Shapeshifter
  2. Shadowland
  3. And Then the Rain...
  4. Take the Blame
  5. The Last Breath
  6. Psychic Imbalance
  7. Hope
  8. Breach in My Sanity
  9. Demon Tears
  10. 1,000 Souls
  11. Someone Else
  12. Will We Remain

Added: May 10th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Cloudscape website
Hits: 6190
Language: english

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