SummaryCareful with the drugs, Johan!
|4 (1 votes):
Tiamat are certainly no favorite band of mine, but I can’t deny that there was something unique about their early records… for better or worse. Even the occult flavored Sumerian Cry marked the start of a band with a certain vision that definitely differentiated from that from that of Carnage and Nihilist, yet as with plenty of other bands such as Therion and Cemetary, it wouldn’t take long before Tiamat would abandon their death metal roots for something different.
There’s the obvious elephant in the room that should be addressed right away; Johan Edlund’s bizarre vocals. On The Astral Sleep he sounded ghastly in the best way possible, here he sounds like a drugged fellow with a hoarse and dry voice. Ironically, Johan Edlund sounds actually once he’s not shouting too much, but by the time that he introduces the first hilarious line that goes “IN A DREAM!” in the song with the same title, you know you’re in for a unique experience at least. Personally it took me a long time to get used to Johan Edlund’s vocals and I won’t blame you if you’d have a hard time getting used to his as well, but it’s certainly worth it.
Otherwise, Clouds introduces you to an otherworldly dimension that could only be accessed with the help of drugs and even ended up more influential than you might think (just ask Tiamat’s country mates Lake of Tears and Cemetary, for instance). It may not be on the same level as The Astral Sleep which features cooler guitar solos, more enjoyable vocals and overall better songs, but Clouds sounds like a decent successor either way. Songs like “The Sleeping Beauty” and “Undressed” remind me of Johan Edlund’s stories that involve women, yet unlike “A Pocked Sized Sun” from Wildhoney, these songs actually end up sounding exciting. Tasteful, yet doom metal riffs create a sense of Swedish heaviness – already pointed out by the time that “In a Dream” gets past that cute introduction of ethereal acoustics and mood-setting keys. The latter become most notable during the break of “Smell of Incense” – bringing to mind the same ominous mood of Asphyx’s “The Rack” – only before that final death metal section ravages onward and you return to that drum crashing chorus where punishing guitars hammer onward with malice.
Clouds is also filler free, but I can’t be the only one who thinks that the record has its goofy moments. The aforementioned “In a Dream” is a fine song on its own, where ominous leads and well-paced doom ’n death riffs collide, but from the silly verses to that unoriginal chorus that recalls someone reading a line from a piece of paper, Johan Edlund sounds absolutely ridiculous on it; so much that that even that even the trilling death metal riff won’t convince me to revisit the track. “The Scapegoat” doesn’t get interrupted by Johan Edlund’s vocals as much, yet it’s a strange track with weird contrasts. Heavy stomping riffs in the vein of Celtic Frost lead to a chilling verse before that amusing chorus resurrects itself with comical effects and if you can refrain from laughing by the time Johan Edlund belts “I WORSHIP LUCIFER!” over those upbeat keys, you’re one strange fellow – let me tell you!
So, rather consistent, Clouds obviously features some favorite tracks that make it the album as fun that it is. The title track gets driven by engaging drums and melodic, yet weighty riffs – with even a tasteful guitar solo to boot (Thomas Petersson also did a fantastic job on The Astral Sleep, in case you haven’t heard that album). “Smell of Incense” recaptures the same doom/death metal essence of “In a Dream”, minus the annoying vocals, even if it’s unusual to hear Johan Edlund’s powerless vocals follow up with a kicking death metal riff. Finishing off, “Undressed” isn’t as seductive as the song title promises, yet it manages to take one on a journey towards the unknown. Walking through the fog of the verses, meeting with the peculiar woman during the chorus and stumbling upon that exotic guitar passage as well as that trippy guitar solo certainly makes it a worthy album closer.
Since Clouds would be the band’s last heavy record, I’d personally argue that this marks the end of a once interesting band. Anyone who’d be only familiar with the band’s gothic phase might not recognize this younger Tiamat – but of course you could always do something about that.
Release date: September 1st, 1992
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