Armed Cloud - Master Device & Slave Machines
Save Yourself (4:48), The Crack (4:54), Withered White (4:19), Mobocracy (4:23), Mirror Mirage (4:18), Warhead (8:15), The Cycle (5:07), King Lear (5:51), Dancing Spirit (10:10), Ascension (4:46)
Alan Weston's ReviewArmed Cloud are a Dutch symphonic metal band from Nijmegen and founded by the guitarist Wouter van der Veen and bass player Boris Suvee back in 2011. Their first album Obsidian Desert was released back in 2015 and two years later we have their 2nd album Master Device & Slave Machines.
Like any other good symphonic metal band, Armed Cloud exude a high level mastery of the genre with a tight-fitting competent musical execution that exhilarates and enthrals. They're certainly not unique but bring forth an exciting sound of a live studio band that does the genre proud.
The album is stuffed with what you would expect from such a band. Punchy and exciting drums and bass throughout the record: synth solos as in The Crack and Withered White, catchy in-your-face riffs as in tracks like The Crack and Mobocracy, rip-shredding guitar solos are in abundance, thoughtful songs like Mirror Mirage, and a strong vocal delivery (Daan Dekkers) on all tracks.
But the music that best sums up the prog credentials of this band are the longer tracks Warhead and Dancing Spirits. Here we get a good dose of everything that defines symphonic metal: strong guitar based riffs, powerful vocals (bit like James LaBrie), tasty and tuneful guitar solos, acoustic guitar and string intros, and tempo and mood changes.
If I was forced to pick something of a weak point about this album it would probably be the keyboard playing. Although Remco van der Veen is very competent as a keys player he is not in the same league as someone like Jordan Rudess (but then again not many are!). But he does add a crucial element to the Armed Cloud sound palette and produces some catchy synth solos.
Definitely an album that metal-heads should check out. Really enjoyed it and look forward to their future efforts. A worthy 7 out of 10.
Calum Gibson's ReviewIn 2010 Armed Cloud was founded with a determination to bring their brand of metal to the world. Being described as having influences from grunge to prog and symphonic metal and even pop, with lively energetic shows. They sparked my interest as they sound like they should be a powerful force to be reckoned with. So with that, I dove into their realm.
Kicking off with some bassy, technical riffing and flowing leads, the album opener Save Yourself sets the tone for a power-prog album with some meaty chops. The bass features quite prominently in this track, matching the guitars in their riffing, while the drums keep the pace at a decent speed.
The album continues like this, with a bass heavy, catchy and a sound both familiar and different at the same time. Weaving through technical riffs, to chugging rythmns and catchy leads, all the while vocals of Daan Dekker flow over the top, both soothing and powerful and gruff and menacing at the same time.
The Cycle is a perfect example of the ebb and flow of the album, technical and grooving riffs, with stunning vocals and fun leads.
I admit, with the first track I thought to myself "probably just another power-prog album", so I was pleasantly surprised to find that, yes, it is a power prog album, but the quality of song writing, mixed with the musicians individual talents makes this one to be remembered.
Stand out tracks would be The Crack, Warhead and The Cycle.
I would recommend this album and band if you are a fan of the likes of Kamelot, Avantasia and Ayreon. A solid power-prog album with plenty to keep fans interested.