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WAR CLOUD - Earhammer Sessions

Release date May 22, 2020 (Ripple Music)

Earhammer Sessions is the third full-length release by Oakland's War Cloud since their 2014 inception. This effort was recorded live-in-studio at Earhammer Studios in California, as the band claim they wanted to capture their raw, live energy. Mission accomplished.

War Cloud have a varied sound that covers a lot of ground between trad metal, thrash and punk'n'roll. The vocals of guitarist Alex Wein are pure metal and spot-on for this type of music, sounding something like James Hetfield with a bad chest cold. Wein, together with fellow guitarist Nick Burks, have a guitar sound that sometimes veers into melodic Iron Maiden territory, while Sam Harman's bass and Joaquin Ridgell's drums are not lost in the mix, as could have happened with a "live" recording.

For this reviewer, the best songs are a little less metal, and a little more southern punk'n'roll, being "White Lightning" and "Speed Demon", either of which would fit nicely on a Nashville Pussy album. Instrumental "Tomahawk" is another stand out track, being reminiscent of early Metallica. Another great track is closer "Striker", which is pretty much an old-school thrasher.

The first couple of tracks, "Vulture City" and "Give'r", could have done with a bit more time in the writing department, as they come across as awkward, rather than catchy (but the southern-style guitar harmonies on "Give'r" are excellent, it must be said). Overall, this is a damn fine 8 song, 30 minute album, with something for everyone who loves metal to appreciate.

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