Review by Rick Ossian
I don’t really know that I’m qualified to review this bunch, but I’m going to go for it anyway. Cloud Maze are an electro-pop outfit from Moscow that were formed in 2013. They DO veer off into the heaviness of Metal and Hard Rock occasionally, but that is obviously not their forte. They are in the business of making people dance, so you would most likely hear them in a discothecque as opposed to a regular rock club. Personnel are Sergy on vocals and lead guitar, Anfir on bass and Alex on drums. Though this type of noise is NOT normally my cuppa, I was encouraged by a friend’s recommendation and thusly, here we are!
I must confess I was excited when I heard Chris Slade (AC/DC, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) deem these fellows ‘sensual’. While not normally in one’s everyday vocabulary, we should all admit that we would LIKE it to be. That being said, let us get on with the sexiness. On first listen (or two), I hold true to what I espoused from the beginning. This is NOT Metal. It is more Rock than Pop, and there are a few Heavier moments, but it is a long ways from what we’re accustomed to hearing. Most of these tracks would feel like they belonged on an FM Top 40 playlist (from the future), but it is doubtful that we would hear them on any of the stations we frequent. But enough of my babbling…
The intro, though brief, is telling. We hear a clip of a phone conversation between, I assume, Sergy or a rep for the band, inquiring as to whether or not they could be ‘one of your artists‘. The response: ‘Sorry, that’s too gay for us‘! Unfortunately for Cloud Maze, that may have been my initial response as well. However, this is not a song – it’s just a very small spoken-word piece, if you will. Next up is the actual music.
Dance has a cool beat, but it is way too electro dance-pop for these ears. There are also some neat angst-ridden vocals here. Angry vocals are good, right? I just wish that the music was angrier. This would be wonderful stuff for the dance floor. Anybody who normally feels a groove would have a hard time sitting still to this number. There are some decent dance breaks, but again – NOT Metal. Be forewarned. There is some Heavy Rock riffing going on here, and some decent guitar work, but let’s not get too excited.
Moves is more of a synth/guitar jam. It is more of the same, the intro features a digital run-up to some good playing, rock guitar, bass and drums just simple whack style stuff. The interplay between the drums and the bass is particularly busy on this tune. There are angry vocals again, of course – perhaps because they can’t decide on a genre? Vocally I was reminded of Mike Patton and BigElf‘s Damon Fox. This is techno-laced Rock at it’s best, with some droning and a vocal shift around the 3 minute mark. There is also some brief lead guitar noodling (2:00), and a couple of shifts. Not bad.
Steroid features more tribal drumming, almost Bluesy to begin with, and FX sounding like sirens wailing. The vocals again are mentally anguished, but that seems to be the norm on these recordings. Drums and bass are exceedingly busy again as well.
Persuade features more of the same, the angry vocals, and of course is Heavy Rock at best, but not necessarily Metal. They DO veer dangerously close at some moments… This is more like Roxy Music or David Bowie on steroids and methamphetamines simultaneously. ‘If you please/Get on your knees‘, the lyrics intone, and the vocalist is ‘turning‘ quite a bit. This reminded me also of a heavier Alan Parsons Project, oddly enough, and there is a synth-like fade out at the end.
T.T.L. features one Cristian Galli of Carousel 47, and is a cool, punchy punk number with powerful vocals. Trick is more of the same discothecque-style rumblings from above. Imagine electro beats like in house or trance but mixed with cool basslines like some Heavy Rock is.
Winter sounds like it’s title, again with slightly anguished vocals. It is pretty mellow music for the most part, as is evidenced by Sergy encouraging us to ‘turn the lights down‘. It is spacey Computer Rock in some ways, also, and there are violins (??) (3:25) and a (sort of) guitar solo (3:40). A computer fade-out graces the ending. More PC rock mixed with disco, then. Some repetition here as well.
Outro features a synth-like ambience (Eno, anyone?) that one might find in their local mall, or in the elevator (lift) at their local airport. There is also some Edge(U2)-like guitar work. It is muzak but better, and of course on a bigger scale.
Trick appears again at the close, this time with Smarts. It is disco-NOT Metal (surprise!), and makes one wonder why it appears on the same disc twice. Perhaps it was an oversight, or the obligatory ‘bonus’ track. Once was enough. It is a catchy number, I will give them that. Rap does not belong – that must be where Smarts comes in. He should have stayed home.