Written by Barlovv
Cloud Rat – Threshold
> Michigan, US
> Released October 7
> Artoffact Records
The crowd. The impact.
The car tumbling into the wall
Faintly she heard them coming.
2022 has really been a year of discovering that I fucking love grind music. The speed and ferocity is one of those things that I didn’t know that I was missing, and now I can’t stop seeking it out. Related: one of the greatest discoveries of the year for me has been Cloud Rat. So, while I know I’m late to this party—I hope you’ll forgive that crime—but if you’re like me you’ll be thrilled to know that there is so much Cloud Rat to enjoy, and you can jump in now with Threshold.
So, just what the fuck is a Cloud Rat? In this case, it’s a Michigan trio consisting of Rorik Brooks, Madison Marshall, and Brandon Hill, and they have been making some next level grinding punk since 2009. As if they couldn’t sound more appealing on paper, the band takes on plenty of serious themes from depression and despair, to feminism and anti-capitalist commentary—so they really do tick all of the best boxes.
Preamble out of the way, lets get right to the point: Threshold fucking rules. 15 tracks and 31 minutes kind of makes this thing the funeral doom of grind music, but it doesn’t waste a single fucking second and manages to maintain the same energy and intensity as an album 1/3 the length—which is what I’ve come to expect from grindcore. As someone who is perpetually feeling low on energy, I will never understand how anyone can keep the intensity this high this long, but I’m sure glad they can.
While all three members of Cloud Rat are absolutely fantastic at what they’re doing—the drums and guitars on this album are brutal and incredible—there really is no denying the fact that Madison Marshall is one of the strongest vocalists in metal as a whole. Controversial, maybe, but I’m really not seeing much competition. She has an insane amount of rage and intensity in her performance that I truly can’t get enough of. Also, let’s not pretend that metal isn’t kind of a boys club, and so having a band that goes this fucking hard led by a woman is kind of…inspiring? Is that right? Cloud Rat are inspiring as fuck.
Another thing that makes Threshold stand out so far from the pack is the experimentation they do here. While the album is end-to-end a fast and ferocious grind album, there is no denying that it also dips into other genres and incorporates plenty of different styles, making for an album that borders on the avant-garde at times. I would swear you have elements of doom, hardcore punk, black metal—and just all of the good things that make my brain vibrate at just the right frequency.
“Kaleidoscope” stands out as a particular favourite track on the record, it’s the song the lyrics that open this review come from: it’s a stunning thing with a much slower, moodier intro, that of course devolves into chaos. Like that last second before your car runs into a wall, when time slows down—or seems to—before an explosion of sound and metal takes over in a cacophony. It’s a great song on an album that is essentially without a weak link in it. The album opener, “Aluminum Branches”, also kicks things off so strong: everyone puts their best foot forward and set a high water mark for the album that is coming. Since we’re kind of on a path here, let’s talk about the album closer, “Babahaz”, an absolutely brutal and thundering end to this album, that feels final and is just so good. I really can’t sing the praises of this album enough, and as it marks the first full-length effort from the group since 2019 and it just rules so fucking hard.
THE BOTTOM LINE
2022 has been an unbelievably good year for those of us who love the louder and heavier music, and Threshold is such a shining example of that. It goes fucking hard, and while it’s a grind album through and through, it manages to experiment with other genres and really make the most of the time it gives you. If you’re not already on the Cloud Rat train, you need to fucking get on board right now. You won’t be sorry, unless you hate things that are good.