Album Review: Heavy Rock Comes In Black Clouds “After All”

Black Clouds is a brilliant name for a hard rock band, especially this one, of which serves a shameless and loud sound. The perks of being unadulteratedly aggressive and piercing is that there is a freedom to you. There is a boldness that Black Clouds’ serves in After All that is not about “being yourself” as much as not being yourself.

Usually, we are told “being yourself” is the most important thing you can be, which I cannot and will not argue. Yet, if you are shy you dream of being in the spotlight. If you think you are dumb, you dream of being smart, and if you see yourself as ugly, you dream of being beautiful. Of course all these terms and ideas are relative to perspective, but the point is that After All is an album that speaks to who we want to be, i.e. the exaggerated, unrelenting, and fearless version of ourselves that often is brilliant to our imagination but unreal to our realties. It is a record that shows its not about “being yourself” as much as “transforming yourself”, and becoming a person you never thought you would be amongst’ all the “No’s!” you have been given throughout your life. In songs, like “Self- Control”, “Days Are So Long”, and “Going. Going, Gone”, you can hear guitarist/vocalist Dan Matthews fiery anguish to be “free”. That desperation to be liberated from others and himself comes out in his inherently rasped voice.

Matthews has a voice that pierces like a spear and matches well with the symphonic chaos that is hard rock. His voice is similar to Ozzy Osborne’s Black Sabbath Days because he uses his vocals to poke at darkness like it is a caving wall with light searing beneath it. Both singers have a weightiness to their vocals that makes sentimentality feel less “mushy” and more blazing; as if emotions are necessary to feel alive. The contrast is wonderful, and proves that hard rock is not about losing your mind or going numb, but about breaking the sonic walls to break mental ones, as well. This idea resonates through the bashing drums (Cory King), bass (Gary Moses), and guitar (Neil Hayes), of which each musician approaches their instruments like prodigal children: intelligent but also eager. It is as if someone had let them loose, and they decided to smash their thoughts into their instruments like they were memory absorbers.The result is a furthering of the notion and question, as to “Why don’t we try to be someone else?”.

If all humanity is fluid then everyone can truly be anyone. The shy can be boisterous, the ugly can be stunning, and the unintelligent can be geniuses. Tracks such as, “Sayonara” and “Still Alive”, come off  like clustered sounds of bursting creativity, anguish, and breathlessness. You can hear in lyrics and rhythm the felt insanity of having so much to give to yourself and the world but not feeling as if you can. I believe everyone is a light wishing to shine by being shared, but with all the boundaries we put on ourselves and others, we could end up like the “Merchants Of Death” or cold, scathing “cutters” of creativity.  Ultimately After All, is about recognizing having no boundaries can leave you open to dangers but it also can leave you open to greatness, where as placing limits on yourself will never lead you to your limitless capacity. Such a massage is appealing to any human being, beyond genre, yet The Black Clouds’ After All has such a solid, brazen sound that anyone will enjoy it as a release of their inner hard-rocker. For More Information On The Black Clouds And To Buy After All On January 6 Click Here.