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Clouds – Durere Award winner

by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 30 March 2020, 4:01 AM

CLOUDS is an Atmospheric Doom Metal band. I imagine most metalheads can guess what that might sound like. However, unless you've heard them before, I doubt anyone could imagine the music that CLOUDS are capable of. Even for being under the umbrella of "atmospheric," CLOUDS is a band that takes that name and just runs with it. Their latest, and fifth full length, "Durere" continues their ascent in the Doom world.

Much like their namesake might suggest, the band can be as gentle as a cool breeze on a summer afternoon or dark and stormy as the worst maelstrom. But despite how it is musically presented, sorrow and uncertainty rules over their music. Those clean guitars, violins and gentle cleans are just as heavy as when they up the distortion and bring out the death growls.

Believe it or not "Durere," is both a simple and complicated album. Taken at face value, nothing presented across the album's seven tracks is too involved. You won't find riffs upon riffs that are coming out of other riffs. There are no intricate passages of Progressive feats of musicianship or dueling guitar solos. Often times, the guitars aren't even playing actual riffs.

What makes the album stand out with unending depth are the layers. Each song can be peeled back like an onion to reveal different parts that, while simple, come together for the much greater whole. This is an album that gives you something different each time it is listened to. The guitars may not give us groove filled head banging riffs, but they do drop the hammer with sweltering, distorted heavy blankets of darkness. In many ways, the light and heavy elements are mirrors of each other even if they are stylistically different.

The first track, "Cold Guiding Light," starts with acoustic guitars, notes weaved together for the beginning moments of a dark story.  Daniel’s vocals aren't too high above a whisper at this point, but he is clear, concise and timed perfectly with the guitars. At 1:56 into the song, the flood gates open and his vocals become pain filled and frighteningly deep death growls—-he is definitely one of the best growlers in the genre.

The riffs grow to become thick, choppy movements like a turbulent sea knocking over a boat. For an album that rarely goes faster than a crawl, it pays to have a great drummer like Luca. He keeps the momentum up, understanding exactly when the double bass needs to get hard and fast or when to use a cymbal to compliment a particular moment like a violin or a sudden change in musical scenery.

Empty Hearts,” is a very lithe, soft track with drums and violins dancing among each other for several minutes. The interplay may be soft, but it is journey unto itself and perfectly leads to the harrowing mid-section.  In this moment, the violins and drums both increase their volume and intensity as the drums and vocals bring on the darkness.

Images and Memories,” is a song that is one-part beauty and the other part sorrow.  The bulk of the song consists of the album’s most tender moments.  Clean keys, distant vocals, create waves that crest on a tender yet depressing shore as the guitar slowly creeps in.  These brackish waters recede for moments before truly tortured growls appear and give the song even more weight.“Above The Sea,” did evoke feelings of being on the water, in no small part to the violins with lend an almost alien and ethereal style to the track.  Riff wise, the crunchiest and most moving guitar parts are presented here and the bass really stands out among it all.

The next track, “The Sailor Waves Goodbye,” is possibly my favorite on the album.  Although I enjoy lyrics (if they are good, of course) but when I review, I try to shy away from reading them.  Many times I have spoken to bands and they all say the same thing: they want lyrics to hold their own meanings to the people who listen to them.  I’m not sure what this song means to those who were involved in the song writing process, but I pictured a man going on what he knows is his final journey.  He doesn’t have the heart to tell his loved ones that he isn’t coming back and as he fades into oblivion, his life regrets flood before him.  In his final moments, he realizes he should had used his final moments of strength to tell his family the truth.  This, to me, is a song of painful regret but also one of hope because it makes me want to leave this world with few things on my mind other than knowing my family is as content as can be without me. I don’t have to say anything else about this song because for it to move me enough to create an entire story line in my head speaks more volumes about it than I could ever put to mere words.

A Father’s Death,” seems to be a title of simple explanation but one also of pain, and of my own future pain.  My father, and many other people I’m close to, are still around but as I get older, I am often reminded that one day soon I will be standing at their own graves.  I hope in those future times, I can use this song as float to keep from drowning in what will surely be my own tears.  You can find beauty in darkness that is exactly what this song is.  The violin displays some of its most moving arrangements in this track.  The heavy-handed guitar works so well with it too, kind of a crushing doom (see what I did there?) against the light.  The song’s ending is a very pained but real example of the ultimate futility of life.

Finally, we have the end with “The End of Hope.”  The beginning is very funeral, a somber song for lost days and final goodbyes.  The middle portion allows the band’s brand of extreme Doom to fill up the silence before it is whisked away by the very lead guitar oriented second half.

This album is just exhausting, and I mean that in the best way possible.  It is a tiring journey that will probably shake you to the core and bring out things you probably thought were best left behind.  Doom is a very powerful style and few bands can weave it as both sorrowful and deadly as CLOUDS.  I’m not going to waste time and decide if it is their best album, but it is quite possibly their most urgent and meaningful.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Cold Guiding Light
2. Empty Hearts
3. Images and Memories
4. Above The Sea
5. The Sailor Waves Goodbye
6. A Father’s Death
7. The End of Hope
Daniel Neagoe – Vocals
Alex Costin – Bass
Luca Breaza – Drums
Mihai Dinuta – Guitars
Indee Rehal-Sagoo – Guitars
Irina Movileanu – Violin, Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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