Imagine a grubby pea-soup-coloured van making its way from one muddy, grimy, bad part of town to the next. There’s a bowl on the shag carpeting and a jumble of vacant beer cans, some bottles. It smells like pee and weed. The piss-van is charged with the task of delivering its unclean occupants to the next gig, which takes place somewhere dark, clammy, greasy, uncivilized.
The occupants of our Mystery Van? Clouds. Led by Cave In’s Adam McGrath, this band is what you get when you combine '70s-style blues, classic rock, and stoner metal.
Before you think I’m insulting these cats, know that I’m not. The quartet from Boston sounds every bit the rock-and-roll rebel outfit, punching dirty guitar riffs into deep pockets and using half-shouting vocals to wash over the fuzzy backdrop. It’s a thing of beauty for fans of loud fucking music, I can tell you that.
The band’s follow-up to Legendary Demo finds the guys right back where they get their beer money. We Are Above You isn’t a slap of superiority to lesser bands, mind you, but it sure as hell could be.
Through the haze and buzz of extremely loud guitars, Clouds manages to come to the party with notes of Sabbath and Motörhead.
Take the opening low and sludgy groove to “Empires in Basements,” for instance. The song reaches down and pulls up an insolently mean, almost cruel-sounding riff and pulls it forward through Adam’s adamant intonations. Wicked.
The ridiculously sick and speedy “Year Zero” conjures Lemmy with a satisfying sense of drudgery and irony. Q’s steady drumming lays the framework for the 2:28 gut-churner and an oddly sweet melody tries to creep up a few times only to be bashed down by the humiliating power known only as Clouds. “Motion of the Ocean” follows a similar pattern, but mines the depths even more.
Frankly, if scouring the mucky, grubby, soiled world of hookers-and-coke rock isn’t your thing, you’d be better off skipping this and going with something a bit safer. Miley Cyrus’ latest ain’t half bad.
For me and legions of other brave souls, however, this is the shit we’ve been waiting for. Clouds brings their brand of stoner rock down hard all over this record and anyone with speakers brave enough to handle the thunder should pick up We Are Above You today.
Oh, and don’t forget the tall boys.