Cloud Rat just bleed emotion in all its beautiful/ugly forms, delivered in the most chaotic of fashion. The Michigan grindcore trio are a band that have an invigorating mean streak in them with each release. Their self-titled LP expelled a heart-on-your-sleeve ferocity that’s nearly unparalleled. It stems from the myriad influences that have been soaked up by their grindcore heart, most intriguingly the screamo and melodic hardcore strains that have become an integral part of the band’s sound. Listen to a track like ‘Dwell’ from the self-titled for overwhelming evidence, whether it’s in Madison Marshall’s impassioned wails, the buzzsaw guitars that are utterly piercing or the unrelenting blasts that never give up for a second. It’s a pattern that is repeated throughout the record and its subsequent releases, particularly last year’s split LP with Republic of Dreams, where you really felt like Cloud Rat had taken a really dramatic step in their growth as a band.
And grow they have done with second album Moksha. Ridden with overpowering intensity and velocity as well as passion, emotion and caustic melody, this is a record that sets an extremely high bar for grindcore in 2013. At half an hour, Moksha is unrelentingly violent and affecting. The band has honed and sharpened every facet of their assault to a deadly tee. Production-wise, Moksha glistens with a beautifully spacious studio job that, on paper, sounds like it wouldn’t work with the band’s primitive core but none of the intensity inherent in their sound is diminished or sacrificed. If anything, Cloud Rat sound more invigorated than ever on this LP.
Kicking in with ‘Inkblot’, Cloud Rat waste no time whatsoever with Madison’s ear scathing shrieks and wails laying waste to all around. Sometimes it’s hard to think that Cloud Rat is a trio as guitarist Rorik’s unyielding assault on the fretboard sounds like that of an army, peeling off searing razor-edged riffs that cut through the record with nothing but unforgiving force. It’s a force upheld by the likes of ‘Peer To Peer’, with its almost d-beat pummelling or the straight ahead grind assault of ‘Widowmaker’, which is soon peppered with melody… and this is only the first side of the LP.
A side closes out with almost beautiful ‘Infinity Chasm’ that opens first with near-clean singing that sound ethereal and hypnotic, reminiscent of Circle Takes The Square’s more subdued moments only to erupt into familiar territory to pull the curtain on album’s first half. It’s at this point that Madison has truly left her mark on this record, her vocals are totally and undeniably venomous, with absolutely no give, and ‘Infinity Chasm’ portrays this so well but it’s really just the calm before the inevitable second storm.
It’s a storm that includes the unexpected cover of Neil Young’s ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’, which bizarrely works but it gives way to another LP highlight in the shape of ‘Vigil’, which seemingly collects together all of Moksha’s strength into one last blast. This is Cloud Rat’s ferocious statement of intent and it’s difficult to imagine many other grind records in 2013 matching this record for sheer devastation and emotional might.
Moksha will be released by Halo of Flies