Review Summary: Ben Sharp matures.
Ben Sharp is a bit of an enigma. He avoids any sort of spotlight the music world threatens to cast on him for privacy and solitude, and he prefers to work completely alone. He constantly turns down interviews, offering his words only to a select few individuals over the years. From what I gather, however, it’s nothing to do with his ego at all; the man just doesn’t seem to like a lot of exposure. Though last year’s release of Beacons
was Sharp’s breakthrough into the underground metal scene, he has decided to try something completely different: abandoning the technically impressive sections of Beacons for an acoustic, organic feel on these eight tracks. The result is an excellent addition to Sharp’s already impressive catalogue, but it’s also one that might take some getting used to along the way.
Cloudkicker has always been known for its massive sound and progressive metal/post-rock influences, but you won’t find anything of that sort here. Instead, ambient acoustic passages and minimalistic approaches dominate the near half-hour of music. The gorgeous cover art sets the tone for the album perfectly, featuring a silhouette of a woman over a vibrant pink sunset. While the atmosphere of Beacons was full of panic and furious action with tons of highs and lows, Let Yourself Be Huge
meanders about and maintains a constant pace that seems almost timid when compared to its predecessor. Though this doesn’t allow for dramatic build-ups and awe-inspiring technical pieces, the songs still each contain their own respective identities and that stops any bothersome lulls from taking place.
What this album lacks in technical prowess is made up for by the fact that Sharp’s melodies have never sounded better. He is still fantastic at fitting riffs that would seem contrasting to the average composer over one another without missing a beat. Such a dramatic change in style would definitely prove challenging to most artists, but Sharp handles the switch very nicely. The only song that wouldn’t seem out of place on Beacons is “You and Yours” because of the slightly heavier riffing, and even that is a stretch. It’s nice to see from an outsider’s perspective that Sharp fully committed to the style change before writing this album, as it could have really turned out to be a mess if some of more technical aspects of Beacons were found mixed in with the rest of the songs. The inclusion of vocals on the title track is nothing short of jaw-dropping, as Sharp previously stated that he would never consider using them on any of his albums. He has apparently changed his tune.
On Let Yourself Be Huge
, Sharp has taken a big risk and come away with something that he can be proud of. While some fans will be taken aback by the sudden change of pacing, others will embrace it for what it is and what it stands for: a brief but powerful statement that he is maturing as an artist and is capable of doing more than most people thought. Even more impressive is the fact that he offers this and the rest of his music for free on his website, with the option to donate whatever the downloader likes. Sharp maintains that Cloudkicker is just a hobby that he works on his spare time, but I have a feeling that he is destined for much greater things as his career unfolds before him.