The first band I will introduce you to, is one which I discovered in 2006 (if I remember correctly!) I started getting in to progressive music a couple of years earlier, after spending a good many years listening to power metal. I started to love the complexity of the compositions, the technical wizardry and the way songs could fragment in to different sections with aggressive guitar work and then more gentler, reflective and atmospheric elements coming in to play. To me this was complete music, as it took you through a ride of emotions and feelings. My thirst for progressive music began to grow and I wanted to get the opportunity to see some of the bands that i was starting to like. After a little research, I came across a festival which was to take place for the first time in the UK, called Prog Power. It was the perfect showcase for the best progressive and power metal bands out there. These days there is a lot of crossover appeal with bands playing a blend of melodic metal with progressive elements.
This brings me to the band in question which I managed to see live at the second prog power event in the UK in 2007. This was also how I discovered the band, as they were on the lineup for the festival.
Introducing from Helsingborg, Sweden I give you
Under Fire - videoclip from self titled album 'Cloudscape'
This video is for the song from their debut self titled album, Cloudscape, released in 2004. It immediately caught my attention. Aggressive, melodic, and with a theme running through it, which was socially aware and current. I wanted to learn more about the band so I scoured every resource and bought the albums, they had two released by the time I had discovered them. The original line up consisted of frontman Mike Andersson, backed up by guitarists Bjorn Eliasson and Patrik Svard. Charismatic bassist Hans Persson and Roger Landin on drums. This team of musicians injected a wave of energy in the prog/melodic metal world. As still yet relatively unknown but received acclaim for their work by metal critics on their solid, up tempo diverse and imaginative sound.
Cloudscape album sampler
This sampler gives you a taste of the overall sound of the debut album. It is dark and haunting in places, extremely melodic, energetic and fresh. A very underrated and unknown album but musically and lyrically stunning and would not be out of place in any metal collection as it truly holds its own. It is very difficult to pick stand out tracks from a disc that simply oozes with excellence, but if I were to name a few then Some of the stand out tracks include Under Fire, In these Walls, Aqua 275, Out of the Shadows and Dawn of Fury. Truth is, you really need to listen to this album as a whole and judge it as a whole because to say some tracks are better than another is doing the band with their strong themes, music and lyrics a disservice.
Out of the Shadows - Cloudscape
The second album, entitled Crimson Skies released in 2006, continued on from the foundations laid out in the debut album. A little more darker in tone and theme with some stellar keyboard work as can be heard in this sampler. The album is not necessarily more progressive but the instrumental work is more refined and tighter. Pretty much what gave the band it's identity and trademark sound is still intact and it offers up more great music skillfully woven once more by the five piece outfit.
Crimson Skies album sampler
Again this album is best enjoyed and rated as a whole but if I were to pick out a few stand out tracks it would have to be Shapeshifter, Shadowland, Take the Blame, Breach in my Sanity, 1000 souls, We Will Remain (Featuring Guest vocals from current Nightwish front woman, Annette Olson!)
A live performance at Sweden Rock Festival 2006
Cloudscape could be compared to other bands out there but I think they totally add their own twist creating a distinctive sound which becomes recognizable after just a few listens. They entered the genre with a big bombastic melodic sound that fully embodies the spirit of melodic metal and takes it through a few dark twisty turns. Sprays it with a little prog and finishes it off with a big helping of catchy vocals, thought provoking and captivating lyrics, thus forging the Cloudscape sound.
In addition to their prog power UK appearance in 2007 the band were back in the UK a year later to perform at the Bloodstock Open Air festival. Bloodstock is pretty much the premier Metal festival here and gaining a spot at such an event would have done very well in Exposing the Cloudscape sound to a British Audience. I also had the pleasure of meeting the band backstage and they are not only fine musicians but very personable and friendly. They have always given me time and we have worked together on a fans forum which is now sadly closed as Facebook swept through the social networking world. It is rare for a band to be so outgoing and inclusive with regards to their projects and if you like what you see and hear, then by all means, make contact, have a chat with Mike and get to know the band and their work.
That wraps up part 1 of this spotlight charting the early years of Cloudscape. The second part will focus on the recent years, lineup changes, new material and more!