Album Review: Stare At The Clouds ‘This Clear Divide’
Sydney progressive 5-piece Stare At The Clouds are set to release their long awaited debut album ‘This Clear Divide’ this week. It’s an atmospheric, immersive 50 minutes of ecstasy and anguish, highs and lows, and peaks and troughs. The full-length record is a five year journey for the songwriters from thought to finished product, and the proof is in the pudding.
“[‘This Clear Divide’] combines melodic textures, growling low-end, turning rhythms and grooves to create a calculated, slow, heavy wash of sound.”
The brainchild of guitarist Seb Key, Stare At The Clouds draws inspiration from the likes of Porcupine Tree, A Perfect Circle, The Butterfly Effect, and Radiohead – combining melodic textures, growling low-end, turning rhythms and grooves to create a calculated, slow, heavy wash of sound. ‘This Clear Divide’ explores a subject’s response to a trauma. Each track represents a moment, a reaction or an emotional state at certain points throughout the subject’s internal processing of their anguish.
First up is brief ambient intro Prelude, which flows into The Falling. The track is a progressive post-metal rhythmic heaven, with a staggering palm muted riffs and pummelling drums energetically accompanying the unorthodox time signature. Vocalist Keelan Buttericks delivers a understated and beautifully sung vocal line.
The tracks grouped under Concurrent Abreaction ooze guitars dripping with reverb and hypnotic crashing cymbals. A brief vocal appearance in the middle breaks it up, before zoning back out again. Late highlight Dead Letters shows the outfit’s flair and ability with a short prog-inspired instrumental piece, while Cutting The Ties is a strong finisher utilising some really heavy and slower paced riffing. The track has a great lead break in the middle section and some of the strongest vocal performances on the album. It’s reminiscent of older Cave-In or Old Man Gloom, but without the growls and screams.
“Stare At The Clouds’ sound is highly mature and developed, and they’re able to channel it all into a sound that’s dark, slow burning, and quite chunky.”
‘This Clear Divide’ has several extended periods without Buttericks’ powerful vocals which can make it easy to forget that it isn’t an instrumental album. Each song transitions beautifully into the next and the music challenges the perceptions of modern metal and its tropes. There’s huge menacing rhythms, but the intensity is easily matched by the darkness and tonally heavy moments, the sparse ambient interludes and tension these all create.
Stare At The Clouds’ sound is highly mature and developed, and they’re able to channel it all into a sound that’s dark, slow burning, and quite chunky. The tracks are conceptual and theatrical, and the band have a strong grasp of dynamics and light and shade.
‘This Clear Divide’ promises to deliver a powerful first statement from Stare At The Clouds, an album that strives to challenge its listeners whilst providing strong melodic foundation and intricately woven musical themes throughout. Make sure to keep an eye out for a chance to catch these Aussie emerging prog-rock stars with tour dates to be announced in the near future!