Cloaks - Versus Grain
This album is billed as being ”a cold and challenging assault on the senses” and after the first listen you get exactly what they mean. It's instrumental industrial metal with a hint of electronic experimentation, a description that may, even in itself, provoke immediate alienation. Easy listening it most certainly is not and the simple option would be to discard it after that first listen. But I would be shirking my responsibilities if I did that and so I worked my way through it a couple more times and, whilst it won't sit in my best of '09 list, it did break a few barriers down.
The backdrop is an unrelenting gurgling synth and a droning thump of a bass that seeks to slowly pound you into submission. The album flows reasonable well as a complete work and one feels there must be a sci-fi movie out there that would benefit from this as a soundtrack! So to pick out individual tracks is difficult, but #00197 stands out as being slightly more commercially accessible and here the obvious comparison with Nine Inch Nails come to the fore. Elsewhere, there are hints of little known Australian experimentalist Ben Frost and then the album closes with Detritus, which frankly just sounds like a demolition site!
But Cloaks know they don't conform and it is that boldness that is worthy of note. Their sound is aggressive, primitive and sucks you into a claustrophobic whirlpool of noise that brought back memories to this ageing pundit of The Cure's Carnage Visors or even Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. They play music they are personally absorbed in, regardless of commercial viability or critical acclaim, and that level of commitment drips through the tar to the point where recognition and affection become very separate matters!