Review Summary: Cloudkicker decides that our advice wasn't critical enough and creates an album fixing almost all of his previous flaws.What do I mean by this?
Well, my review for Ben Sharp's EP set off a string of critiques on Cloudkicker's sound, most of which I agreed with. The general consensus was that the music was too repetitive, didn't have enough melody and leads, and had too many same-y sounding breakdowns. Most of these I agreed with, although I gave The Map is Not the Territory
a 4 (which, looking back, was too high). Something was missing in the otherwise interesting mix of post/instrumental/progressive metal from Ben Sharp.
Fast forward about two months and Beacons is released, with a "name-your-price" download style similar to In Rainbows
back in 2007. It's uncanny how the album matches the description of how good Cloudkicker could be. There are leads, more melodies, less breakdowns, and much, much more variety. The music has also gotten noticeably more technical and complex, which may not make the music any better for some, but definitely makes for a more fun and interesting listen.
On a related note, the drums have stepped it up about five notches, and although they are still programmed, they sound much more realistic now, while pounding out complex rhythms and fills.
Beacons itself has some stand-out moments, like the chaotic intro of "Here, wait a minute! Damn it!", the clean, ambient interlude known as "I admit it now, I was scared", and the tapping-filled guitar layerings of "Push it way up!"; however it should be taken in as a whole. As noted earlier Beacons is filled with variety, from ambience to jazzy-sounding clean leads to ridiculous-time-signature progressive metal. This all works together quite well though, something many bands cannot pull off. The ambience is still there, although it plays a lesser role than previous releases. There isn't really a lot to get bored with besides the two seven-minute tracks, which are stretched out too much for their own good. To contradict that, the two-minute clean tracks often feel too short, and I find myself wanting more, especially in "…It's just wide-open field" (which fits it's name perfectly) and "We were all scared." This is a problem the album faces often, but there's enough interesting material to make the gripe somewhat minor.
All in all, Beacons is several steps in the right direction, and by far Cloudkicker's best release. He is beginning to develop a very unique sound, and it's pretty ridiculous how these are all one man's ideas. Although it's only been out for a couple of days, Beacons leaves the listener wondering what Cloudkicker will do next. He's definitely headed there quickly.