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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Black Clouds

Better Days

Review by Gary Hill

The Black Clouds? I don’t think so. Isn’t this really a long lost Nirvana album? Or is it perhaps possible that Kurt Cobain is still alive and this is his new band? OK, that’s an exaggeration, but these guys really do sound a lot like Nirvana. Fans of Nirvana should definitely dig these guys. Yes, they stretch out a bit beyond that, but overall, it’s pretty close. It should be noted, too, that this album might be a bit stronger if they dropped a few of the songs. Sometimes less is more and the formula seems to wear a bit thin later in the set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Prelude

This instrumental introduction is melodic. It has a lot of psychedelic music built into it. It also feels almost proggy. It’s an intriguing way to get the listener ready for the adventure that’s about to unfold.

No Reason
A fuzzy bass guitar opens this, reminding me a little of the theme song to “Peter Gunn.” The group powers that basic concept up with a real grunge element emerging. That grunge concept is arguably better represented by the vocals (Kurt Cobain comes to mind) than from the music. Still, it’s there on both.
Breathing

There’s almost an early metal sound to this thing. It’s a killer rocker. Frankly, I like this more than either of the previous tunes. The vocals are much stronger than those on the previous one and this beast just plain rocks. The riffing is great and it’s fun. Still, that Nirvana thing does come back up at points, especially the closing bit.

Defective Mind

Although parts of this have a bit of a psychedelic edge, this is in many ways a dead ringer for something Nirvana might have done. That said, I love the fuzzy, ultra-low drone at its heart. It’s a good tune.

Again

The riff that opens this is very much old school metal. Beyond that point, though, this feels like some long lost Nirvana tune. It’s really a smoking hot rocker.

Fray

Alternating between a mellower movement and a more hard rocking one, there are still some Nirvana references here, but overall it’s more of an original alternative rock sound here. This is one of the more unique cuts on the disc.

Whereabouts Unknown

Percussion opens this. Then we get a cool riff that has bits of surf music in it. The song proper blends that to create a rather psychedelic sounding rocker. The chorus is more of a Nirvana kind of thing. This is a great number. In fact, it might be my favorite here.

I'll Be Gone

Angry and frantic, this is like a more punk rock oriented version of Nirvana. It’s aggressive, but not really raw.

Stalemate

Alternating between the mellower and the more rocking this has a great hook. It’s angry and again feels a lot like Nirvana.

Blue Blocker

Seeming to blend both old school metal and punk rock with the Nirvana type songs, this one is pretty raw. It’s also not all that special. It’s not bad, but doesn’t really shine.  If there’s a tune to skip, this is it.

Seen Better Days
I kind of like this one, but it really sounds like Nirvana. Also, it just seems a bit like “more of the same.” The formula is starting to wear a little thin by this point.
Rid of Me

Angry and raw, this is a bit better, but still suffering a bit from the monolithic nature of the disc.

All or Nothing

Although this isn’t a big change, the riff that drives and just the overall vibe here is superior. This is a great tune to close things in style. There are some great metallic moments, too.

 
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