Cloudyhead
Abstraction


3.5
great

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
November 2nd, 2012 | 48 replies | 5,072 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: James McCabe shows off a lot of potential in the instrumental progressive metal arena with his first full-length release as Cloudyhead.

There's a certain line between the human and the mechanical that instrumental music, in particular, seems to tread. I say instrumental music because there's a particular emotional quality to singing that seems impossible to emulate, making vocal music (well, at least good vocal music) inherently human. But instrumental music can all too easily become a factory assembly line. One man has a good thought that is then copied, disassembled, reassembled, tweaked, slapped together, marketed and, boom! There you have it, folks, an album.

Cloudyhead's Abstraction, the first full length release from St. Louis native James McCabe, is an album that seems to teeter on that line. At its best and most jazz influenced ("Something," "Smile," "Oaken"), it reflects the mellow, yet warming sense of optimism that McCabe says he targeted on Abstraction; at its worst, the album is a grinding conveyor belt lined by stale, tired factory workers placing part into part in satisfaction of gestalt theory.

And, for the most part, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Though some tracks seem to commit too long to particular riffs and cycle through them on repeat a tad past the ideal stopping point, the album as a whole feels energetic, inspired, and interesting. While the heavy, often cyclical rhythms plod along, there are usually strong melodic leads that carry the track and, if not, those rhythms are usually countered sooner, rather than later by pepped-up jazz or electronic-styled drum beats. Still, the relatively consistent tone of heavy distortion becomes weighty over the album's fifty-three minute run-time and can make tracks bleed together, though they might sound brilliant on their own.

What may be most bothersome is that tracks like "Aliens Made of Wood," which rely wholly on the gear-grinding mechanic of low, crunching, repeated riffs, often precede great moments like the free-flowing introduction to "Oaken," which then forgets its beginnings and falls into the factory routine all over again. It's like seeing brief flashes of brilliance which feel a personal pain for standing out, yearning to conform.

Given that Abstraction is McCabe's first full-length release under the Cloudyhead moniker, it seems likely that this is a bug to be worked out in his own personal machinery and nothing more. For being only twenty years old, producing music at this standard of quality is highly commendable and, provided McCabe dedicates himself to what he's doing and balances himself a bit more firmly on that line between the human and the mechanical, his next effort could easily be outstanding. In the meantime, Abstraction is a worthwhile addition to your collection for even its most average moments, which are better by at least a sprint than most other releases in the same realm.



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user ratings (16)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
November 2nd 2012



1986 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

http://cloudyhead.bandcamp.com/

There ya go. An album that's best at its jazziest, worst at its chuggiest, but on the whole, pretty good.

Also features Sithu Aye and Plini RH of Cartoon Theory (though, to me, it sounded like their contributions had very little impact on the overall sound).

CaptainDooRight
November 2nd 2012



28832 Comments


what do we have here

Ecnalzen
November 2nd 2012



6500 Comments


Really nice review. I especially enjoyed the human and machine metaphor to instrumental and vocal music. Or is it an analogy? Whichever it is, I enjoyed the comparison.

Ire
November 2nd 2012



41754 Comments


ramyhead

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
November 2nd 2012



10064 Comments


Fantastic review as always. Gotta check this out, man! And nice feature, you deserve it =]

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

thekingofqueen
November 2nd 2012



16 Comments


Dis is da shit

MO
November 3rd 2012



18514 Comments


nice! I actually heard about this through a friend who's as much a cloudkicker nut as me

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
November 3rd 2012



1986 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yay! Thanks guys! And thanks mods for the feature!

Hope y'all give this a listen!

Exclamation points!

MikeC26
November 3rd 2012



3172 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this shit is real cool.

nice review, agreed whole heartedly

cb123
November 3rd 2012



2006 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sounds pretty interesting, its now on the list of albums to check out that is becoming so long that it may never all be done

henryChinaski
November 3rd 2012



2723 Comments


Cool man, gonna check this out. Nice read.

Digging: The Tidal Sleep - Vorstellungskraft

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
November 3rd 2012



4409 Comments


Yeah good review, man. POS'd. I have to check this out.

Digging: Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty

Azn.
November 3rd 2012



5604 Comments


^lol

Good review, pos'd.
Will check this out. I like jazz.

mindleviticus
November 3rd 2012



8220 Comments


this is pretty good man

FearThyEvil
November 3rd 2012



12480 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

All I think of is Cloudkicker due to this name. Give it a listen after some Immolation.

Wolfhorde
November 4th 2012



13011 Comments


Too much chugging. Whoever tagged this as Jazz Fusion is an idiot.

Keyblade
November 4th 2012



14700 Comments


too much chugging, who woulda thought

Digging: Strawberry Switchblade - Strawberry Switchblade

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2012



1986 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Too much chugging. Whoever tagged this as Jazz Fusion is an idiot.


Yeah, I don't know who did that. There are jazz inspired moments, which are great, but this is not fusion in any way, shape, or form.

Keyblade
November 4th 2012



14700 Comments


Check out Special Providence's new album for actual prog metal/jazz fusion. It's pretty sweet and craps all over this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELB-sxpx3m8&feature=relmfu

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2012



1986 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Giving it a listen, not too bad so far.



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