Cloudkicker – Subsume

Subsume cover art

Artist Cloudkicker
Album Subsume
Genre Post-Metal | Post-Rock
Buy/DL Bandcamp
Web Cloudkicker Blog
Release 14 September 2013
Rating: Must Listen

Its funny that we split so many things into genres and sub-genres, especially when reviewing something, just to give a better hint as to whether someone might be interested in it.

“Oh, third wave slow core is the best!”

“No way, blackened post-doom all the way!”

Obviously I’m exaggerating here, but my point is that there are some things that are only a few people’s cup of tea, whereas other things tend to lend themselves to a wider audience. We seem to have a specific niche that we champion, if only in our hearts. I don’t find fault it that, but I think sometimes it’s to the detriment of our potential experience.

Ironically, this is sort of how I felt about Cloudkicker for a while. I felt that I was too cool for it.  I was into different stuff, more “core” as it were.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Ben Sharp’s musical output. It’s certainly not that it was a different sort of music than I prefer, because I love post metal when it’s done well.  It was just something about the whole idea about Cloudkicker I had fabricated in my mind. They were popular and sort of generic, I thought.

Well, I was definitely half right. Since 2007 Sharp has been very consistently building up a very large fan base, while consistently expanding his musical output. In fact, I was surprised when I found out how much of an influence Cloudkicker really had on not only post-whatever music, but on the process of Internet word of mouth “marketing.”

Marketing is in quotes for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t believe Ben ever monetized Cloudkicker music up until Subsume, and, secondly, because I don’t think he goes out of his way to push his music at all.

This is really refreshing to me. The whole idea of “it’s there if you want it, and if you like it tell a friend” distribution is awesome. Add the fact that Cloudkicker is so prolific and consistent, and you’ve got quite the underground powerhouse.

Which is exactly why my more narrow minded side avoided prolonged exposure to this amazing band.

Subsume is a masterpiece.  I haven’t heard an album this strong in quite a while. From nuance to anthemic riff, it declares itself majestic and moving, something not to overlook.

Sharp has outdone himself. After looking into Cloudkicker’s back catalogue, it seems he makes a habit of this. This time, however, He’s gone to the pinnacle of this post-metal mountain and basically established post-“djent” as not only a viable subgenre, but something so refined yet spirited that I don’t think Subsume’s legacy will ever be in question.

From the slow sonic pulse of the buildup that introduces “The warmth of the daytime seemed like a dream now” to the jaunty haunty martially sludge flow of “You could laugh forever but never end up happy” we are taken on a journey that feels universal and personal at the same time. Nowhere does this album feel weak or strained. It is both devastating and empowering.

While not the heaviest post-metal around, Subsume has many thunderous moments, not just in the usual ebb and flow dynamics of the album, but in the excellent production. Cloudkicker has never sounded this open and wide. Drums thunder and slap, Guitars manifest as clouds that rain beauty and shoot thick riff lightening, all while the thunder of the low-end rolls unmolested. I’ve listened to this album on many pieces of equipment, in many environments, and I can’t point out a single missed opportunity in the sound range and mix.

I mentioned that, to my knowledge, Subsume is the first time Cloudkicker has charged for an album. It is most certainly worth the price. So much so, in fact, that I chose to purchase the vinyl. This is something I haven’t done with a reviewed band since Caspian released Waking Season.

This is top-notch music that will most certainly be on my year’s best list, and honestly, if I ever have the fortune of meeting Ben Sharp, I will be thanking him for creating this excellent album.