My, my, it’s been a busy season, hasn’t it? One top quality release after another. You could make a very respectable top 10 of the year from the last 6 weeks alone, and my friend, a little birdy told me more is approaching. It can be hard to keep up, can’t it? You barely scrape together the time to listen to one album and another three demanding your time are dropped in your lap. So I won’t do that to you, my friend. Grab a beverage if you like, and join me. Come sit a little closer and let’s simply enjoy each other’s company with a bit of comfort metal to take the pressure off. Relax, take a deep breath, let it out slowly. That’s it. Let’s sit back, turn off that stress factory in your brains, and enjoy some undemanding thrashy heavy metal, courtesy of War Cloud.
Now let me tell you, this is a happy little band from Oakland who really enjoy this sort of style. Do you think you hear a little “Aces High” in thrash-laced opener “Striker”? A bit of “Doctor Doctor” in “Dangerous Game”? You could well be right on the money. Yeah, you can really hear what these boys have been listening to. But that’s totally okay. This is comfort metal, we’re not getting fancy here. What matters most is that these boys play with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of spirit. They put a lot of happy little riffs all over the canvas. You like happy little riffs, don’t you? Just putting them here and there and everywhere. Solos too, and they sound really nice surrounded by those riffs. Some are a bit more from the thrash side, some a bit more heavy metal. Whatever feels right, you know. And the drummer, well he really beats the devil outta that kit. Got a lot of great energy, that guy. Really tremendous.
You gotta take some of the bad with the good though. Nobody is perfect, certainly not War Cloud, but that’s alright. State of Shock relies on nostalgia a lot, for sure, so you’re not gonna hear anything here you haven’t heard before. That’s part of what makes it comfort metal, yes, but it means you can get the same thing from hundreds of other bands. And while these chaps have enthusiasm aplenty, I think maybe sometimes they may have just a little bit too much enthusiasm. Frontman Alex Wein has a minor range issue, his voice gets a bit unstable, and combined with the dueling guitars it gets messy. Now, this might not all be their fault; the studio were such rascals as to send pretty low quality files, and the production does sound a bit muddy. That may be an issue on the physical disc, it may not be; I have no way of telling.
But it’s okay, because State of Shock is still a good time. It’s an album to pop on as you crack open a lovely cold beer as you hang with your pals, wearing their denim vests and sporting mullets, just talking and laughing on your porch as the sun sets. Wein doesn’t do cleans so well, but he’s got a gruff little edge to his voice that’s just lovely, especially on the faster tracks. Those happy little riffs are just too much of a nostalgic joy to be swept under the carpet. It reminds me of High Spirits in a way. It’s nothing new, it has some flaws, but that’s not important, because everyone recording it is having a lot of fun doing what they love, and you hear that in every note. There’s a freedom in not taking things too seriously, and War Cloud totally get that.
So, are you feeling a little better? Not so overwhelmed with the amount of great albums that are dropping? How nice to hear. Yeah, State of Shock isn’t a great album, that’s one less worry on your mind, right? But I gotta say, it’s a heckuva fun time anyway. Lovely riffs dancing all over the place, blotches of spiffy guitar solos, against a background of enthusiastic drumming and lively bass. It’s spirited, energetic, and if War Cloud make a few mistakes, that’s totally fine. After all, there’s no such thing as mistakes. Just happy little accidents.