If you’re like me, you love it when supergroups get formed. The ones that contain dedicated, experienced, and talented musicians who put their skills together to write a record that is consolidating, tasteful, but still has a sound of its own and is still formidable in the scene. This is Glass Cloud. When former Sky Eats Airplane and Of Mice & Men frontman Jerry Roush announced the project with former Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza guitarist Joshua Travis, the scene exploded with buzz. After the release of two singles and some small tours to promote the new project, the wait with bated breath for the full-length known as The Royal Thousand is upon us. The word you’ll be looking for after you finish this is “whoa.”
Glass Cloud is not only comprised of two incredibly gifted musicians with reputations that succeed their previous bands; the other two musicians who drive this band with their nasty chops – Chad Hasty (Drums) and Travis Sykes (Bass) – are Berklee graduates, which in layman’s terms means they’re really fucking talented as well. The melding of these four individuals immediately created high expectations, and they succeeded.
At the start of this record, you’ll immediately notice the lush but gritty soundscapes in “White Flag,” as well as the addicting chorus that Roush is no stranger to throwing his silky cleans on. Taking the more melodic approach first rather than the “bat-out-of-hell heavy” approach, they set a nice groovy pace for the record. “If He Dies, He Dies” immediately follows with a real devastator, intertwining the melody with brash, crunchy, and dissonant chords to really lay the law down. It wouldn’t be complete without a breakdown, and one of the record’s most notable is in the closing of this track, but not without a nice build-up to accompany it. “Falling In Style” and “Ivy & Wine” continue that dosage of brutal, with the latter featuring an insane rhythmic section in the middle before changing time signatures to another hook-filled chorus.
The mix of the record is pretty spot on – if you hadn’t noticed by now. The drums have a nice pocket towards the center, with the guitar and bass riding the outer edges of the mix, and vocals placed predominately in between like a nice sandwich: not too squelched, good amounts of room to breathe. The following interlude “Prelude for a Ghost” is a good example of this, as its ebbing and flowing releases some of the erratic tension that the former songs had incepted. Roush showcases some of his best clean vocal work here as well. “All Along” is another heavyweight with a catchy chorus, enough programming to challenge Periphery in some instances, and relatively straightforward. “She Is Well and Nothing Can Be Ill” follows suit; it pummels you in the face non-stop, crushes you with two Godzilla-sized beasts for breakdowns, and leaves you with a smile on your face.
“Memorandum” takes a left turn with an unconventional introduction as well as a strange first verse before kicking into high gear. The track pushes and pulls like a tide, showcasing both Roush and Travis at some of their best moments: Roush with a raw, eccentric attitude, and Travis with absolutely ridiculous chord progressions and the shredding he is known for. The drums drive the song into an eerie close with more fancy handwork, before taking charge one last time with “From May to Now.” This track plays the most on the prog-metal gear that they shift into a lot of the time, featuring more dissonant melodies, progressions, and harmonies. If you haven’t figured it out by now, this record is out of the ordinary and will take some time to grow on you. This band is really hard to predict, and by the amount of left turns in this song alone, you’ll figure that out – but it works for them. They conjure up a moderate taste of familiarity paired with adventurousness for even this genre. As the song fades out, there is a comfortable resolve that will leave you intrigued and even a bit confused, but ultimately appreciative of the amount of musicianship and skill that went into a record like this.
Sometimes surprises come out of nowhere, sometimes they’re planned. Sometimes they exceed expectations, and sometimes they flat out don’t meet the bar. This band has earned the right to a successful start, as this record won’t be a flash in the pan, or a magnum opus. It’s exactly what it needs to be: a platform. Glass Cloud are on their way, and to think about the kind of curveballs they could pull out on their next release is anybody’s guess. Let’s hope they do.