Cloud Rat have a middle finger, locked and loaded, aimed intently at anything within American society that displeases them, which seems to be just about everything. Granted, this world-weariness is handled with care in the form of abrasive passion throughout Qliphoth’s seventeen tracks. Their third full length album, following 2010’s self-titled and 2013’s Moksha, Qliphoth is a true epic, in the most literal sense of the word, especially considering grindcore’s signature, blurring pace. The album’s structure is complimented by wisps of femininity that are abruptly torn apart by the ensnaring instrumentation and social trope-defying messages. The former carries the latter like a war hero recognized not post-combat, but mid-melee, atop the shoulders of her comrades, thrown to the front to lead the bloody charge. There is an undeniable blood lust here, especially on the tongue of vocalist Madison Marshall, whose venom-flecked words edge the razor-sharp riffs and blunt-weapon percussion of her cohorts with purposeful efficiency.
Label: React With Protest Records // order here
Qliphoth is a record with an agenda, executing its savagery with immediacy, purpose and unadulterated passion for its subject, which is as thoughtful as any politically-leaning grindcore band can be. The vegan, feminist and humanist subject matter is at times approached with an anguished mysticism, with Qliphoth’s dominant, chaotic bursts punctuated by dream-like expanses like “The Boar’s Snout” and “Thin Vein.” “The Boar’s Snout” is interrupted with an almost story-like quality by “Hermit Interstice,” a track that incorporates the record’s trademarks into one package: grating speed book-ended by a shoegazey stab. Politically, their banners unravel slowly throughout, oftentimes billowing triumphantly in the apocalyptic winds that emanate from the album’s latter half, like on “Bolt Gun,” which marries sonic and corporeal corruption. While grindcore is the high-blood pressure strain that runs through Qliphoth, the pulse quickens to those aforementioned moments of euphoria parsed with black metal convulsions that drive the climactic, desperate tone of the album’s mid to end sections. As a whole piece, the collection’s structure is a howling monument, with opener “Seken” serving as the towering peak, wavering uncertainly atop its agitated foundations. Lower down the totem, the disparate levels that comprise it crumble beneath Marshall’s lyrical existential woe, before toppling over by the time ending track “Chrysalis” breathes its last, ashen gasp.
Qliphoth is among this year’s more esoteric releases, a grindcore album that unabashedly fluffs its rotten bouquet with shoegaze violet and thorny black metal. Conceptually speaking, the term “qliphoth” comes from the Kabbalah, describing impure spirits, driving home the album’s dueling ethereal and achingly real tones. Cloud Rat’s third outing is a collection that dwells and rattles deep in your bones well after it has ended, leaving a last sting that you never want to subside.