Grindcore is not a genre renowned for embracing diversity. Sure, there are degrees of complexity, sub-sub genres (the much reviled Goregrind and unbelievably-somehow-even-worse Pornogrind being tragic examples) and bands who’ve found their own sound, but the basic template laid down by Siege, Deep Wound and the original Napalm DeathThe Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit) is as relevant to the genre now as it ever was.
Which makes Cloud Rat both extremely important and extremely difficult to describe, because their thoughtful, reflective Grind manages to capture musical territory that is both recognisably Grindcore and recognisably different. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how they accomplish this – they slow down quite a lot, but that’s hardly a new thing; sure, they use spoken word sections and Dark Ambient elements, but again Grind’s involvement with Noise is hardly new. It’s more the way these elements are used, not to crush or destroy but to create a sense of distance and space, which is then contrasted with the more genre-conventional violence and blasting to heighten the impact of both. “Contemplative” is not a word you might ever have expected to read in a Grindcore review, but for Cloud Rat it honestly fits.
Their third full-length album (fifth if you count odds-and-sods collection Fever Dreams and Blind River) since 2010, Qliphoth (all Halo of Flies/IFB) is a snapshot of a ferociously dedicated and hardworking band continuing to carve out their own unique sense of what Grindcore can be. It’s a varied collection, its songs as meandering and reflective as my raiding-the-thesaurus-for-words-that-mean-thoughtful would have you expect, while still as savage and devastating as a Grind album should be. Anyone just seeking wall-to-wall blast beats and mosh breakdowns will be disappointed, but it’s not like those are exactly hard to find. Cloud Rat have offered something both more rare and more interesting, and have made themselves genuinely the best new Grindcore band in years in the process.
Cloud Rat on Bandcamp