CLOUDKICKER — Beacons (review)

CLOUDKICKER — Beacons album cover Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Conor Fynes
'Beacons' - Cloudkicker (7/10)

The second full-length bout from the mysterious djentleman Ben Sharp, Cloudkicker's 'Beacons' is defined by it's higher highs, and lower lows, when compared to it's predecessor. Maintaining Cloudkicker's deep root in post-metal, the sound here goes even farther from the typical Meshuggah soundalike this one man instrumental project started with in 'The Discovery.' While 'Beacons' is certainly not as consistent as the evenly-flowing debut, it remarks a very distinct development in the sound of Cloudkicker, and is a satisfying follow up from this quality project.

While there's certainly a change o sound witnessed here, the essence of Cloudkicker is still here in droves. The emphasis in the music is still about atmospheric, larger than life textures, gradually building tension and sound that only gets more complex as the composition progresses. Like 'The Discovery,' 'Beacons' is comprised of a song suite; each track is generally seamlessly connected to the next, giving a very continuous and pleasantly flowing product. However, 'Beacons' doesn't sound as much like a front-to-back composition as much as a seamless string of smaller compositions, the effect of a well- flowing album definately gets across.

A very interesting thing about 'Beacons' is it's concept. While there hasn't been any discernable binding concept in any Cloudkicker work before this, the theme here revolves around black box messages found on crashed airplanes. While the music itself is instrumental and relies completely on the talented guitarwork of Ben Sharp, the music does reflect the atmosphere of panic and desperation quite well. Of course, there are always mellow sections here to give a respite from the mathematically complex metal-leaning music here, including the quiet flourishes of 'I admit it now, I was scared' and '...it's just wide open field.' These softer compositions are deeply rooted in post-rock, and generally trail back into the heaviness before they can go anywhere of much value. However, in the scope of the album, they work beautifully as interludes.

While 'Beacons' is a strong record, the two problems here concern the less consistent nature of the album, and the overbearing concept of repetition in the album's composition. Things here are performed and produced beautifully, especially considering that for all intents and purposes, this is an indie release. However, there are times when Ben Sharp's musical ideas are stretched out a little too much beyond what they're worth. Musical themes will be repeated over and over again, and while this can be very effective for some of the more atmospheric sections, the less captivating sequences can go as far as being boring. Fortunately enough however, around the time the nerves start to wear, a new musical idea comes forth to save the day. Overall, 'Beacons' doesn't leave as much of an impression as 'The Discovery.' Perhaps this is because I now have high expectations for the talented one man project, but in any case, this album is a very welcome contribution to Cloudkicker's catalogue... and despite the flaws here, this is indeed a welcome contribution to an impressive discography.
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