PICK OF THE WEEK: Cloud Rat put focus on welling frustration that jars sanity on ‘Threshold’

Photo by Luke Mouradian

Feeling like you can’t take anymore and not knowing where you’re going to find your next reserve of energy, if you even have any stored away, is one of the most frustrating experiences one can endure. It gets your anger, anxiety, and frustration activated, and it can be so much that trying to find calm and reason can be an impossible mission around which no arms could possibly wrap.

When you first read the word “Threshold,” the title of the new record from Cloud Rat, any number of ideas can go through your head. But if you head straight toward a situation that has someone on the brink of sanity, having endured all they can take, then you’re headed in the right direction. The Michigan-based grindcore/punk trio—vocalist Madison Marshall, guitarist/keyboard player/sample artist Rorik Brooks, drummer Brandon Hill—have a spoil of riches that is their vast back catalog, and as time has gone on, they have incorporated many different elements into the sound, refusing to remain uniform. On “Threshold,” the band puts forth some of their most volatile, devastating content. It’s a firestormer, but it also still has plenty of interesting bends in the road that will have you holding on for dear life, and the emotion they put forth floods dangerously from their hearts.

“Aluminum Branches” opens with noise welling and Marshall’s raspy screams decimating, landing punches as the playing slashes and later mauls. There is a moment where the chaos calms a bit, but it’s a temporary respite that ends in shocking fury. “The Color of a Dog” stabs and combusts, the playing mangling as moodiness rears its head, and then everything is turned to strangulating bloodshed that ruptures minds. “Inner Controller (Lucid Running Home)” utterly thrashes as Marshall’s vocals leave bruising, and an electronic buzz rises and torments, the speed swallowing you whole. “Cusp” fires up and steamrolls, trudging as Marshall’s vocals hang like a morbid cloud above the din, her shrieks knifing into veins as things come unglued and eventually dissolve into the earth. “12-22-09” is murkier and darker, the vocals weaving into your psyche, the guitars lighting up and jolting with electricity. The drums punish as the playing gets even more daring, anguished wails working their way into your heart. “Listening Ear” slowly blazes before noise tears it apart, the vocals utterly rip, and the speed encircles, hurtling you toward “Shepherd” that bathes in metallic riffs. The pace bursts as the vocals are throaty and blunt, the panic stabbing its way into the earth. “Imaging Order” changes the pace with melodic riffs and heavy atmosphere before the assault explodes, Marshall howling, “Destroy!” The guitars race as punk energy hammers, Marshall continues to command with force, and angelic noise rises from the charred remains to gasp a hint of beauty.

“Persocom” is battering as guitars tangle and spread, speed torments, and Marshall’s howls leave dents in your chest. “Porcelain Boat” is insanely aggressive, punishing as the drums become a war machine, harsh shrieks opening up once-congealing wounds that now ooze all over again. “Kaleidoscope” opens with synthy chills and heavy fog, bringing more of a straight-up rock vibe that gives you a little breather from the wall-to-wall chaos. Later, that blows up as carnage collects, a melodic gust makes your blood rush, and a strange bed of keys helps you properly disassociate. “Ribbon Boat” charges in with fiery vocals and punk thunder, the gargantuan screams and beastly playing forming something you can’t even dream of challenging. “Corset” is mathy and smashing, the vocals destroy, and the drumming turns bones to dust. The elements combust as the pace jabs and sizzles, riffs thicken, and the final gust makes the blood race through your veins. “Ursitory” unloads with vocals that aim to choke you, and then an odd excursion heads into calmer waters, Marshall flexing her cleaner voice to kelp soothe wounds. Echoes rupture and the temperatures rise dangerously, heading into closer “Babahaz.” Noise hovers like a dark cloud, and then the playing jars viciously, the vocals defacing everything in its presence. Deep growls carve as the playing gets thrashier, melodies emerge that reek of black metal, and the power finally combusts, ending this race in calm, cool waters that wash away your pain.

The hurt, frustration, and anger paced into “Threshold” is palpable, a beast that works with you and against you, helping you see and understand the darkness but leaving it up to you to find a way to friendly shores. Cloud Rat not only sum up the torment in their own hearts and minds, but they also help align with all of us who have suffered greatly and been at sanity’s edge far more often than most of us would be willing to admit. It’s madness, agony, and catharsis laid out over 15 venomous tracks that will put you to the test but also leave you more battle tested and calloused for your next bout with hell.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/cloudratgrind/

To buy the album, go here: https://artoffact.com/releases/threshold/

For more on the label, go here: https://artoffact.com/

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