Formed in 2004, US rockers The Black Clouds has pretty much persistently and increasingly drawn attention and acclaim with their hearty rock ‘n’ roll, a trend set to be accelerated by the release of new album After All. A fiery yet earthy slab of alternative rock lying somewhere between Foo Fighters and Stone Temple Pilots, the album has all the attributes to become a long term passion for a great many.
Hailing from Monmouth County, New Jersey, The Black Clouds consists of vocalist/guitarist Dan Matthews, guitarist Neil Hayes, bassist Gary Moses, and drummer Cory King. The punkish roar of 2008 debut album Wishing Well set the band up potently in regard to praise and broadening awareness, its adventure and success surpassed by Better Days four years later. A feisty fusion of grunge and hard rock, its impressive elements have been joined by those of its predecessor in the striking attack of After All, a rousing fusion of the familiar with new bold enterprise in an exploit which could and should push The Black Clouds towards a position on the global rock ‘n’ roll map.
Produced by Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden), After All immediately hits the spot with opener Photograph. As riffs and rhythms collude alongside a spicy groove the song quickly captures ears and imagination, Matthews’ vocals are just as swift a lure as the song heads into a chorus gripping listener participation with instant ease. There is no escaping a Nirvana-esque hue to the track’s persuasion but neither the all tenacious Black Clouds freshness as it stirs up imagination and appetite with anthemic prowess.
The following Self Control has a slightly more laid back charge to its presence but too freely uncages piercing hooks and an instinctive snarl to keep the album’s strong start going. Backing vocals potently compliment Matthew’s plaintive tones as the song strolls with controlled vigour, the song reminding a little of UK band Feud, before Sayonara steps forward. From its initial bass growl, the song is a volcanic, punk infested trespass. Raw and intrusive with a fine line in melodic contrasts, lava like grooves, and virulent infectiousness, its briefness is the only anti-climax in an impressive assault.
Leave Her Alone brings a calmer presence to After All next; its body just as catchy with broiling eruptions of intensity adding richer texture to its character while Falling straight after seduces with melodic and harmonic charm. Even in its emotive caress there is an underlying rigour which bolsters the song’s already strong temptation; both tracks revealing the enjoyable variation in the band’s album and sound.
Featuring Mark Arm and Jack Endino, Vice bares its sonic teeth and raw energy next, the song a dirty rock ‘n’ roll grumble carrying the punk attitude of Johnny Thunders aligned to the sonic flames of Dinosaur Jr., before Going Going Gone, with again Endino guesting, dons another Nirvana like colour in its contagious holler. Creating another twist in the album’s landscape, the pair of tracks cements the already memorable presence of After All with the excellent Still Alive reinforcing that success with its grunge/punk ferocity. Rhythmically the track gets under skin scorched by scalding grooves and melodic flames cast by Hayes, traits matched across much of the release as a whole.
The gentler duo of Merchants Of Death and Days Are So Long, the latter seeing Endino, Allison Maryatt, Eric Nutting, and Nate Malubay helping out, bring After All to an enjoyable close if without either quite finding the same sparks to ignite personal tastes as earlier tracks. Nevertheless, the grunge infection of the former and melodic elegance of the equally catchy final track, leave satisfaction high and a want for more bold.
The Black Clouds are at the point in their rise where they are teetering on the broadest recognition, After All looking and sounding like the nudge to see them topple into the biggest spotlights.
After All is out now through Capacitor Records on CD and translucent blue vinyl @ https://capacitorrecords.com/products/black-clouds-after-all
Pete RingMaster 10/01/2016
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