Cloudkicker
Solitude


4.5
superb

Review

by Scoot USER (41 Reviews)
September 11th, 2020 | 173 replies


Release Date: 09/04/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Quarantine be damned.

During the late 2000s and early 2010s, there was a defined shift in the metal world - as technology advanced, self-produced instrumental metal became more and more prominent. Animals As Leaders, Chimp Spanner and Angel Vivaldi are early examples of artists that were able to push the boundaries of what one-man shows were able to accomplish simply by using a home studio. One artist, above them all, stood out to me - and that was Cloudkicker. It may have been the absolute enigma around the man behind the name (Ben Sharp essentially stayed out of the spotlight as much as possible and turned down interview requests), or the fact that one man was capable of writing, producing and recording some of the most intriguing metal the scene had heard in years. As Cloudkicker's hype had been building since 2008's monolithic The Discovery, I can distinctly remember my excitement towards 2010's Beacons like it was yesterday. And that album changed my entire perception of what self-produced metal could sound like - it was emotional, it was technical, it was produced incredibly well, and it has influenced countless artists in the instrumental metal scene since its release.

Over the next decade, Cloudkicker went rogue. 2011's Let Yourself Be Huge was a complete departure from his signature sound. Gone were the soaring riffs and polyrhythmic jams, to be replaced by soothing acoustic melodies and (gasp) even a vocal section on the album's title track. And yet, the album was a resounding success, paving the way for 2012's Fade and 2013's Subsume to incorporate elements of shoegaze, post-grunge and experimental song structures. One had to wonder when Cloudkicker was going to hit the wall, and after 2014's Little Histories EP felt more like Fade B-sides than a standalone release, he had his first misstep with 2015's Woum. Following his very successful tour with Intronaut, Sharp decided to take an extended leave from making music and fans across the globe wondered when or if we would ever see him return to the highs that were so abundantly prominent in the first half of his career. And while 2019's Unending was a surprise return to the project, it came across as a retread of concepts we had already heard. There were no real risks taken; it seemed like a very "safe" release, and many fans seemed to accept the fact that Beacons would never have a true spiritual successor.

Enter 2020's Solitude.

With a 2:16 mammoth introduction to the album in "Ludendorffbrucke", Ben Sharp delivers what could be the single heaviest riff he has ever created. This sets the stage for the rest of the album, and it is an absolute monster of a comeback release; massive in sound, technically striking and with a notable improvement in production from his last few releases. Despite drawing obvious influences from two of his past offerings (Beacons and Subsume), Solitude has a distinct aura of loneliness and isolation that permeates these 48 minutes of massive madness. The drums are crafted in such a calculated and precise manner that it's easy to forget they are actually programmed - Sharp remaining one of the very best in the scene at making this happen. Album standout "Code Language" is a perfect encapsulation of the lush soundscapes that can paint pictures in the minds of his listeners, and it's perhaps the most well-crafted song of his entire career.

For every criticism about Unending and its refusal to push the envelope, Solitude is its superior in every category. Sharp allegedly wrote the entire album during a three-month long absence from his day job, which speaks volumes about his ability to overcome the writer's block that has plagued him since Woum. One notable change is the appearance of Intronaut guitarist Sacha Dunable on two tracks, and I feel that Dunable had a definite positive influence on the outcome of the entire package. Sharp's bond with Intronaut has now stretched for six years, and it would not come as a surprise to see a joint tour at some point in the future. Solitude is his greatest achievement as an artist, managing to recapture the magic that catapulted him into the spotlight without coming off as a direct copycat. His influence on the instrumental metal genre is unquestionable and will only grow larger as the word spreads about the excellence of this latest release - only, this time, he will answer our interview questions.



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user ratings (212)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Scoot
September 11th 2020


20795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

ben's back baby

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2020


1579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. Got me all hyped for this, I think his last release that really tickled me was fade

JayEnder
September 11th 2020


11422 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn, very nice review Scoot.



This might even be as good as Beacons... Haven't decided yet. Ben lays some serious riffage on here m/

Digging: Every Time I Die - Radical

Ziggity
September 11th 2020


1298 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, pos’d. Excited to check this out. This seems more up my alley compared to his past few releases.

Ecnalzen
September 11th 2020


10965 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice. Gotta check this soon

GhostB1rd
September 11th 2020


7939 Comments


Ben Sharpiro.

trilo
September 11th 2020


4089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

owns hard. def his 3rd best

Digging: Every Time I Die - Radical

SitarHero
September 11th 2020


13601 Comments


Does this djent?

zaruyache
September 11th 2020


24593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

it djunt

Scoot
September 11th 2020


20795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

be sure to check out his earliest release under b.m. sharp as well

Scoot
September 11th 2020


20795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4Bh3xBWOgE

YakNips
September 11th 2020


19996 Comments


this rules

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
September 11th 2020


9192 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

great rev. still gotta jump on it

Digging: Grouper - Shade

Veks
September 11th 2020


1646 Comments


Very nice review. Checking this out right now.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 11th 2020


5529 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great album

Digging: The Dear Hunter - The Indigo Child

zakalwe
September 11th 2020


34820 Comments


Cirrus shit kicker

Project
September 11th 2020


5201 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

have a pos, album is so good. Code Language is the early standout but 94 Days and Banqiao are right up there for me. I think I still slightly prefer Subsume to this but it's definitely his best since then

Digging: The World Is a Beautiful Place... - Illusory Walls

HarryBoBerry
September 11th 2020


620 Comments


I did not expect Ben to ever return to the heaviness of his late 2000's work, but I'm so glad he did.

Sando and Code Language are brilliant compositions.

MotokoKusanagi
September 11th 2020


3983 Comments


i still dig pre-2011 Cloudkicker but not big on the rest. really enjoying the return to form so far

Digging: Dr. Lonnie Smith - Turning Point

WalrusTusk
September 11th 2020


965 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm still working through the album, but one critique I have is that he has never been good at transitions between songs. They're always so jarring, and make his songs feel like separate ideas rather than chapters in a cohesive story. If he could find a way to meld them together it would do so much for his music.



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