Cloud Rat – “Pollinator” 2CD (Artoffact Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Screaming grind punk from Michigan! Over a staggering number of prior releases, 3 albums, 11 EPs and splits, a live album and various other compilations – in one decade – Cloud Rat have made a name for themselves as ‘..feral, fearsome and fearless..’ and I’ve have to agree with that on the basis of “Pollinator”, which is accompanied by an entire EP dedicated to the band’s more experimental leanings called “Do Not Let Me Off The Cliff” – man, do these people ever take a break?! But going well beyond the grind to include elements of black metal, hardcore, goth, noise and more besides in a tasteful mix, the 14 tracks about the brutalities of today’s world made in an appeal to go beyond apathy and ‘..connect with people and make them feel something..’ actually worked thanks to Cloud Rat’s emotional conviction along with their musical intensity here on “Pollinator”. Fronted by the atomic blast vocals of Madison Marshall, who thankfully doesn’t try to sound like a man, Rorik Brook’s thick guitar commendably delivers a bewildering array of shredding riffs matched by blistering mini solos, but equally, plenty of thoughtful melodies resplendent with hooks and licks, some overt and others less so but all equally catchy to definitely make Cloud Rat’s music stand out – and explain their obvious popularity over the years. Backed by Brandon Hill’s frantic drumming which plays its own role in filling the bass void, songs like ‘Losing Weight’ induce heart attacks right from the off thanks to the furious but catchy dark slide riffing, manic drumming and of course, Marshall’s banshee screamo and she beast roars through a fast rollacoaster that you never wanna stop! Slightly less mental is the blackish ‘Al Di La’ with its clanging and somewhat melancholic riffola, but again its the sharp turns and relentless style changes in just the right place to really make this memorable while still having the sweat dripping off your carcass. Hitting the detonation button on ‘Last Leaf’, the speed drumming is matched by some fantastic nihilistic riffola played at different speeds with a larger, more epic sound through which Marshall drawls, roars and of course, screams her lungs out. Ripping but equally heartfelt, “Pollinator” sees Cloud Rat lunge forward once more and never letting up, even after 10 years.