Review by Felix on July 20, 2019.
What is this? A cocktail of doom and black metal, of pop and gothic? The kitschy artwork is a first warning, but due to whatever reason, the pretty questionable mixture works. Tiamat's unsteady discography does not only consist of highlights, to say the least. But despite its somewhat sticky appearance, Clouds has a lot of charisma.
The first thing that becomes obvious is the very simple and mostly surpassingly catchy configuration of the eight tracks. On the one hand, already the opener is almost painfully simple, on the other hand, nobody who has listened to the album will ever forget again the concise chorus of "In a Dream". Of course, it is a little bit annoying that the titles are filled with keywords that indicate a somewhat romantic or even saccharine approach. Dream, clouds, caress, stars, beauty, flames... Anyway, inter alia the more or less rough voice prevents an overly sweet impression. An emotional track like "A Caress of Stars" feeds the hunger of the costumed gothic clowns and belongs to the rather mediocre numbers, but all in all, Tiamat avoid embarrassing details and even the aforementioned track holds a more or less metallic guitar melody line at the end. By the way, a pretty decent melody. Yet it cannot compete with the totally simple and catchy "The Sleeping Beauty". Both its verses and its chorus shine with glorious simplicity. Moreover, the drum performance with the prominent snare is almost ridiculous, but - it is almost a mystery - the song works very well. The phenomenon of "In a Dream" reappears: once you have heard this chorus, it will stick in your mind eternally. Even if you hate it, you will not get rid of it.
Yes, the Swedes have written some great tunes, inter alia "Smell of Incest" and the title track, but they run out of ideas after "The Sleeping Beauty". I admit that the combination of soft background choirs, playful sections, short speed parts and meaningful harmonies still results in solid or almost good pieces ("The Scapegoat"), even though the back vocals of a legion of celestial creatures in "Forever Under Flames" is nearly unbearable. One thing is for sure, the quality of the previous highlights remains untouched. Doubtlessly, Johan Edlund still delivers passionate vocals and the well-dosed heaviness does not disappear. Although the pop elements of the record cannot be ignored, this is no pop album. Nevertheless, it seems as if it is not easy to compose songs that score mostly with musical primitiveness.
One does not need many words to describe this well produced album, because its advantages and disadvantages are really obvious. Nobody needs to invest much time in order to find out whether she or he likes the album or not. Its essence is not hidden under many layers, the opposite is true. You will enjoy the cocktail or spit it out immediately.
Rating: 7.3 out of 10