Cloudscape - Crimson Skies
Nightmare Records
Melodic Power / Progressive Metal
13 songs (66'17)
Release year: 2006
Cloudscape, Nightmare Records
Reviewed by Marty
Surprise of the month
Well, the steady stream of solid releases from Lance King's Nightmare Records label continues. This time, it's the latest release from Sweden's Cloudscape who released their debut album in 2005 to widespread critical acclaim. I've had their latest CD Crimson Skies for a while now and upon initial "sampling" of a few tracks, it sounded like just another in the long list of melodic prog metal bands. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I put this CD in my car and decided it was time to give it good solid listen if I was ever going to be able to review it. What initially seemed like pretty generic melodic heavy metal suddenly started to take shape into one of the better melodic power/prog metal released this year. The brainchild of lead vocalist Mike Andersson, Cloudscape covers a fairly wide range with their music that although remains firmly entrenched in the power metal genre, leans much more towards melodic heavy metal with just enough progressive elements to satisfy the prog metal fans as well.

With driving riffs and a very polished sound, Cloudscape manages to bring the guitar a little more to the forefront of their sound over others in the melodic heavy metal genre. Some tracks take on a more darker and foreboding tone with a nice combination of the guitar riff patterns and Mike Andersson's voice. Shapeshifter is a fine exampe of the darker side to Cloudscape's sound, all the while giving us just a hint of the soaring vocal melodies and choruses that await the listener after getting into the "meat" of the album. With tracks like Shadowland, The Last Breath, Hope and Breach My Sanity, we are treated to a virtual clinic on how to write heavy yet amazingly melodic heavy metal that infuses spine-tingling melodies and choruses with a driving power metal quality. Think of the best aspects of the melodic side of Dream Theater such as their Images And Words album, mix it with a slightly heavier edged power metal sound and finally stir in the sort of Joe Lynn Turner, Jorn Lande, Russell Allen style of "throaty" and emotionally strong vocals by Mike Andersson and you have the "ingredients" to Cloudscape's sound. Chunky and heavier guitar tones offer a good workout for the neck muscles as well and tracks like Take The Blame, The Last Breath and Will We Remain certainly fit the bill nicely. The majority of the tracks fall into the melodic heavy metal category although the use of atmospheric keyboard effects, dreamy interludes and complexities in the arrangements give the band a slight progressive edge. It's refreshing not to be bombarded with intense speed and far too self-indulgent and very technical heavy metal for a change. Cloudscape has found a way to make very dramatic heavy metal that is bursting with clever riffs and an amazing sense of melody in all aspects of their sound. The guitar sound is massive as is the production and the result is an album that is a pleasure to listen to. Every track has some sort of melodic hook whether it is with the vocals/choruses or with the clever riff patterns by guitarists Bjorn Eliasson and Patrik Svard. For the U.S. release of this CD, we get the bonus track You Belong which was recorded for a demo in 1999 and has never been released.

It's very difficult to find much fault with this album however, the lack of variety really starts to come to the forefront as you get about two-thirds of the way through the album. Every track has it's strong points but the "pattern" in their song writing style starts to become much more evident after repeated listens. However, most melodic heavy metal bands seem to have some sort of trademark pattern to their song writing anyway and Cloudscape is no different. Some of the chorus sections take on an almost spiritual quality and after a few listens, I found myself belting out a few of them while listening to this CD in my car (god I hope no-one heard me!!). Several of these tracks have made a permanent impression on me and will no doubt be listened to for many years to come. If you're a melodic heavy metal /power metal fan and love the huge melodic aspects of Joe Lynn Turner era Rainbow, Jorn Lande's work and especially if you liked the Allen/Lande album The Battle from last year, this album's pretty much a blind buy. This sure was a pleasant surprise and I'm really grateful that I finally "forced" myself to listen to this. Had I not, I would've missed out on a great melodic heavy metal experience and one that is going to continue for a while yet. It took me a while to finally get this CD into my car CD player and it's going to be a while before it comes out!!

Check out the band's MySpace Page

Killing Songs :
Shapeshifter, Shadowland, The Last Breath, Hope and Breach My Sanity
Marty quoted 85 / 100
Ken quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Cloudscape that we have reviewed:
Cloudscape - Global Drama reviewed by Thomas and quoted 83 / 100
5 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 7 replies to this review. Last one on Sun Dec 24, 2006 5:18 pm
View and Post comments