By Lane Oliver
Michigan’s grinding hardcore misfits, Cloud Rat, are a band that has apparently slipped through my cracks for some time. The other writers have mentioned Cloud Rat before but I never had a chance to give them a listen before their new full length, Moksha, fell into my lap. I obsessively checked out the band’s back catalog before giving this record a listen and was still not prepared for what Moksha would bring. This record shows Cloud Rat at their heaviest, rawest and shows them breaking new ground as well.
The opening ominous, wailing atmospherics of “Inkblot” bleeds into raw, buzzing guitar riffs and ripping drums. The track becomes an aural tornado of shrapnel; firing pieces of metallic riffage in every direction with disregard for human life. The track breaks into melodic, high velocity chord progressions that instill feeling of triumph and pride almost. On top of all of this intensity are the vocals of frontwoman Madison, whose searing, piercing vocals regurgitate notes of pure passion and emotional rawness. Cloud Rat continues their aggressive assault throughout Moksha’s short twenty-nine minute duration. Cloud Rat gives it their all when they are at their heaviest. Songs like “Olympia” and “Aroma” collide into you like a rhinoceros on methamphetamine with these crushing d-beat infused hardcore numbers played at blistering grindcore speeds. But the band manages to add some much needed melodic breakdowns and riffs in powerful tracks like “Daunting Daughters”. These elements alone can make for a great hardcore album but Cloud Rat isn’t all about slam, bam and thank you ma’am. What really made this album for me were a few tracks in particular that shows Cloud Rat experimenting with different musical elements. “Infinity Chasm” begins with very soft and clean guitar strums with melodic, peaceful vocals from Madison and company before breaking into a heavy, grindcore speed outro. With the first six tracks being blistering fast and tumultuously heavy, I was definitely surprised when I first heard this track. Cloud Rat surprised me even more with the closing and title track, which is a seven minute ambient piano driven piece which I thought was just beautifully melancholic. But that’s not all. Get this; Cloud Rat covered Neil Young on this record. This heavy and folky rendition of “The Needle and the Damage Done” really caught me by surprise more than anything else. I honestly wish Cloud Rat explored these experimental moments a little more on Moksha because these three tracks are golden.
Moksha is a ridiculously heavy, face ripping bastard of an album for the most part. I could definitely see myself breaking and burning things while this album is playing. But Cloud Rat really captured my attention by being masters of the heavy and melodic so flawlessly. Cloud Rat’s new album is heavy, fast, raw and it’s got a damn Neil Young cover on it. What’s not to love?
Label: Halo of Flies, IFB Records, 7 Degrees, React With Protest Records
Release Date: January 22nd, 2013
Favorite Tracks “Olympia”, “Daunting Daughters”, “Peer to Peer”, “Moksha”, “The Needle and the Damage Done”, “Infinity Chasm” and “Aroma”.
For fans of: Skin Like Iron, Loma Prieta and Birds in Row.