Cloudkicker – Fade
“…The result is a staggering and captivating album where all the strengths of Cloudkicker have been harnessed to extraordinary effect…”
There are some things you can’t say with words, only with sounds. Columbus, Ohio resident Ben Sharp may agree with that sentiment. Over the course of the last few years this one man, slightly reclusive and private, has taken on the moniker of Cloudkicker releasing several records online of his instrumental metal that sways from dizzying riff driven adrenaline bursts through to ambient laden passages. Each album or EP has plunged the listener into a different realm on each occasion; a fact made all too clear by last year’s heavily acoustic, mellowed out record, the sublimely beautiful Let Yourself Be Huge.
Fade now sees the man return to his trusty electric guitar, not quite in the same way as 2010’s breath-taking, energetic and altogether cathartic album Beacons. No, this effort sees Mr Sharp try to strike a new balance between the towering guitarscapes of prior work and the glimmering beauty of Let Yourself Be Huge. The result is a staggering and captivating album where all the strengths of Cloudkicker have been harnessed to extraordinary effect.
Fade crafts lush aural vistas from the opening notes of From The Balcony through to the album’s closing moments of Cloud-hidden, Whereabouts Unknown, a track hidden from the streaming version of the album. The record is rife with poignancy in execution, omitting a glaring spectrum of sensations. The 10 minute Seattle first meanders through lush guitar passages before descending into an almost agonisingly intense mid-section of barren ambience where single notes repeat from multiple guitar tracks only for the song to eventually scale and scale to a thrilling crescendo.
Meanwhile, LA After Rain kicks in with a vibrant buoyancy that totally counteracts that and Making Will Mad illuminates with an animated vibe with more of those fervent guitars noodling away. Crucially, the production on this album is grand and spacious, allowing the music to sprawl out sumptuously, a notable feat for what is essentially a home recording project. There’s definitely an influence of Devin Townsend’s production skills in all of Cloudkicker’s prior efforts and on Fade that really has come to life, taking much from his ability to give everything room to breathe. More proof is found on the album’s biggest sounding number, Our Crazy Night, where Sharp peels off some of his most impressive riffs. It’s the last song proper of Fade and it truly leads the record to a staggering climax and conclusion. Ben, you’ve only gone and done it again.
Drop-d Rating: 8/10