Cloud Rat – Pollinator/Do Not Let Me Off the Cliff (Review)

Cloud Rat - Pollinator Do Not Let Me Off the CliffThis is the fourth album from Cloud Rat, a grindcore band from the US.

In my humble opinion Cloud Rat are one of the most forward-thinking, talented, and innovative grindcore bands out there, although simply labelling them grindcore is misleading and constricting, as their work frequently features so much more than your standard grindcore fare. Releases such as Qliphoth, and their various splits demonstrate this amply.

It’s rare that the words grindcore and emotive go together, but Cloud Rat can turn it on when they want to. This is just one of the many ways that this band are special. The music on Pollinator is both abrasive and emotive, frequently at the same time. Another thing you don’t get to say about a grind album typically – Pollinator is a journey, a rollercoaster of a journey, taking you down into the murky depths, and high into dizzying light. This really is top-tier stuff.

Grinding hardcore and feral brutality share spaces with elements of black metal, doom, and noise. This is experimental, boundary-pushing grind, where melody, synths, and introspection are valued alongside scathing aggression and bloody intensity. Make no mistake though, most of the material on Pollinator is vicious and harsh, fuelled by punk energy and chaotic mayhem, although subtlety and nuance is never too far away.

The band’s songwriting and delivery have melded together perfectly, and each of the 14 tracks here has its own personality and something to say. Tight and professional, but also clearly passionate and filled with feeling, the band tear through the material with experience, skill, and effortless accomplishment.

Cloud Rat continue to produce some of the best grindcore that money can buy. Pollinator is bound to turn many heads, so make sure you get in early on this one, as it’s a damn essential listen.

But wait, there’s more!

There’s also a bonus EP included with some versions of the album, for those more inclined towards the band’s more experimental side. Do Not Let Me Off the Cliff contains 25 minutes of industrial noise, shoegaze, Goth, and pop incorporated into its hybrid style.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on this release, but I should never have been concerned; Cloud Rat know what they’re doing. Atmospheric and emotive, these songs are like Gothic pop songs that are filled with heartrending emotion and worldbuilding storytelling. This EP showcases the non-grindcore side of Cloud Rat amazingly, and features some of their best work crafting haunting, affecting soundscapes. Fans of Chelsea Wolfe, Louise Lemón, and AA Williams really, really need to hear this.

Well, if Pollinator itself wasn’t enough to make Cloud Rat’s latest offering a mandatory listen, then Do Not Let Me Off the Cliff certainly is. When packaged together, this is a beauty and the beast release, although both are beautiful in their own ways.

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