(By David ‘Sunshine’ LaMay, Staff Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
To myself and perhaps only myself, the current stoner rock genre and its multiple sub-classifications are facing hard times.
Oh, the scene is really thriving outwardly in numerical terms of bands and supporters, no doubt. The more skeptical eye though, seems to reveal more. Much like Elvis, discernment has left the building. Anyone claiming to love Kyuss that owns an instrument is almost guaranteed a free pass right out of the gate. Sorry to be a voice of perceived negativity, but it’s not really my goal.
Subjectivity is one thing, and then there’s just plain ol’ getting real. What’s needed right now are outfits producing high-test material that demands fellow musicians start honing their chops. In turn, fans will simply no longer be able to shrug off weak packages under a guise of open-mindedness. Now, just what kind of band has the skills to do all this?
Well, this is where War Cloud steps to the front of the pack. War Cloud is Alex Wein on Vocals and Guitar, Tony Campos on Guitar, Sean Nishi on Bass, and Joaquin Ridgell on Drums.
With only about thirty-three minutes to plead their case, War Cloud starts their début out smart, familiar, and hard-as-nails with ‘Give’r‘. Harmonies and riffs strongly recall Pat Travers’ take on blues standard ‘Boom Boom’, while riding atop fuzzy NWOBHM gallop. The tone is set for the album.
Brisk tempos, cutting melodies, potent everyman vocals and tight instrumentation nodding at classic 70’s and early 80’s influences left and right. The stoner foundation is ever-present, but rather than settle into the hazy norm, every track takes time and effort to distinctly remember what made Thin Lizzy, Legs Diamond, Moxy, Quartz, and early Riot so, so powerful.
Of the eight tracks on display, only the slower ‘Red Witch‘ remotely resembles the expected, but is bumped a clear distance from banality by fiery guitar workouts. This is one extremely well-rounded slab of tuneage from all angles.
Wrapping things up, War Cloud‘s inaugural effort is anything but what one would rightfully expect. These guys are just too damned skilled to be a mere stoner rock band. They’re just begging others to step up and match what they have displayed so early on.
Yeah, you have to place them somewhere, but with their versatility, genre-bending tendencies, and far, far above average songwriting, they could go many places without a single hint. They’ll likely succeed at such endeavors. So, whatever the future brings, I am most definitely going along on the journey. How about you?
War Cloud Track List:
2. Chopper Wired
3. Divide and Conquer
5. No Man’s Land
6. Red Witch
7. Speed Demon
8. Vulture City