This third album from Spring Lake, New Jersey’s Black Clouds may be the charm because, goddamn – it rocks. Seriously. Not dissimilarly to Foo Fighters (say what you will; I like them quite a lot), these four young men know how to put a melody together and turn it up to 100 m.p.h., which is an invigorating thing. Produced by the masterful and vigilant ears of Jack Endino (who knows a thing or two on how to make a song sound alive), along with singer/guitarist Dan Matthews, this album explodes in crispness, energy and power.
“Photograph” just leaps out at you with snarling riffs but with such clarity in the guitars and a deep, tight rhythm section and on-point, razor sharp vocals; “Self Control” does have a (I hate to say it, since I dislike them) Nirvana-like sensibility about it, but those harmonies are just so right and the tension of the song’s rhythm makes this an instant favorite/highlight; the maelstrom of sound on “Sayonara” is like a car out of control and driving along the edge of a cliff – it’s that kind of wild hellride that works and “Leave Her Alone” slows things down but still keeps the intensity at white-hot. “Vice” features guest appearances by producer Endino and the glorious Mark Arm of Mudhoney and does, indeed, remind me of Mr. Arm’s splendid band; “Merchants Of Death” is another track that turns the volume down a bit but keeps the tension and ceaseless rocking going forward and “Falling” is the shimmering surprise; a low voltage masterpiece that screams “radio friendly hit single sorely needed to do away with insipidly banal faceless pop waste” and a deliciously tasteful guitar solo.
All the elements to this album are right; the production; the sound, the feel, the vibe all work hand in hand and it’s well-balanced. I would really hope that no one uses a banal definition like “grunge” because it would be insulting to this fine band. I hope on the strength of this quality-minted album that The Black Clouds only have light ahead of them.
After All is available now