Music is always best when played from the heart, and just maybe, that’s what makes Stare at the Clouds’ debut release, This Clear Divide, such an enjoyable album. From the crystal clear opening vocal refrains of The Falling, layered dreamily over a turbulent, dramatic cushion of rhythm, it’s obvious that this is a deliberate, passionate album.
As the album kicks into gear with the six part Concurrent Abreaction, Stare at the Clouds barrage the listener with a mind-bending mix of harrowing clean vocals, furiously deliberate guitar chugging and percussion, and dissonant chords that hint at the lyrical concepts behind the music. This concept is an exposé into the tough emotional struggles that happen after trauma or loss, represented by the track The Falling. Musically, there isn’t one particular genre or style that This Clear Divide falls into. At times, the polyrhythms and ambience push it near post-hardcore or djent territory, but as quick as it came, a grungy drum beat and emotionally strained but tonally clean vocals drag it close to alternative rock. Either way, it is one hell of an ambitious release.
The album takes a turn for the gloomy with Concurrent Abreaction III: The Outside, which layers sombre, crystalline guitar arpeggios and sparse, reverb soaked chords to create a mood that is both heartbreaking and unnerving. However, this is soon shattered by the crunching, driving guitar of Concurrent Abreaction IV: Lucah, which briefly injects some fire back into the mix. The duality of moments and sounds, similar to that of the above mentioned tracks, gives This Clear Divide an emotional vulnerability that is rarely found in the world of heavy music in such large and intense amounts. Every emotion in the concept of this album, if not empathised with from the lyrics, is felt from the weeping guitars and the complex chords they drape over the percussion.
As the Concurrent Abreaction section of the album fades, the wash of sound continues on a much more upbeat, but just as laid back note, with Dead Letters. If they hadn’t convinced listeners of their control over musical theory before now, then all doubt is washed away here in a river of echoing guitar that strays close to neo-jazz territory. Finally, Cutting The Ties resolves the tension of the album with some of the strongest riffage of the album, drenched in fuzz and crunch tones. Even as the track builds to a thundering conclusion, stare at the Clouds steers well clear of metalcore clichés and djent stereotypes whilst still giving our ears a hardcore style pummelling.
Without a doubt, This Clear Divide deserves a listen, if not for its touching lyrical explorations then for its ability to make you feel with its instrumental prowess. It is a whirlwind of emotion and passion that has been obviously crafted by a band that cares about what they do. Modern prog may not appeal to everyone or please the purists, but if they can continue at this level, Stare at the Clouds are sure to make a point of changing that.
You can purchase “This Clear Divide” here.
STARE AT THE CLOUDS
“This Clear Divide” – Album
Play Length: 00:48:51
Genre: Progressive Metal/Rock
Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Review by Jordan Sibberas
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The brainchild of Seb Key, Stare At The Clouds takes inspiration from the likes of Karnivool, A Perfect Circle, Radiohead and Between The Buried And Me – combining melodic polymetric textures, growling low-end, turning rhythms and groove to create a calculated, slow, heavy wash of sound.
A project that began as a collaboration between Seb and his wife, Cassandra Key on drums, was given new life when joined by Keelan Butterick on vocals and guitar, Evan Jackson on bass and Jacob Grindrod on guitar in 2012.
‘This Clear Divide’ explores a Subject’s response to a trauma. Each track represents a moment, a reaction or an emotional state at certain points throughoutthe Subject’s internal processing of their anguish. ‘Prelude’ symbolises a sense of calm before the trauma, represented by ‘The Falling’. The tracks grouped under ‘Concurrent Abreaction’ explore the simultaneous emotional reactions and processes, following the Subject’s trauma. ‘Dead Letters’ and ‘Cutting The Ties’ represent a necessary, but miserable, bitter resolution.
Songs that had begun as bedroom recordings were crafted and shaped in live rehearsal spaces over 4 years, and were taken to Jungle Studios to be recorded and mixed with Nathan Sheehy between 2013-2015. During this time, the band have also been honing their hard-hitting, entrancing live act, supporting the likes ofDumbsaint, Solkyri, Majora, SEIMS and Glass Ocean, to name a few.
This Clear Divide promises to deliver a powerful first statement from the band – an album that strives to challenge its listeners whilst providing strong melodic foundation and intricately woven musical themes throughout.
Keep an eye out for a chance to catch these brand new Aussie up-and-comers. Tour dates and locations to be announced in the near future.