Michigan trio Cloud Rat have grown steadily from their solid grindcore foundations into one of the most boundary-pushing outfits in a generation of heavy punk-driven bands. They’ve put out more than 20 releases since forming in 2009, but this prolificacy hasn’t been accompanied by a holding pattern in their songwriting—their records feel increasingly packed with fresh ideas. That’s especially clear on their latest, Threshold. Cloud Rat made it during the pandemic, and ear-splitting vocalist Madison Marshall told Invisible Oranges that the band’s creative processstarted from a “point of spiritual breakdown.” Tracks such as “Aluminum Branches” and “Inner Controller (Lucid Running Home)” feel as saturated with urgency, rage, and dread as that nauseating moment during lockdown when you realized that COVID wasn’t going to be tamed in a few weeks or even months—and that you’d have to make it through the duration, however long that was, without going out of your mind. Mercifully, Cloud Rat infuse Threshold with plenty of catharsis too. The brooding “12-22-09” satisfies with doomy, post-hardcore atmospheres, while the shimmery “Kaleidoscope” drips with dismal beauty thanks to its serene guitars, uplifting synths, and rotating rhythmic patterns. Even at 30 minutes, it feels like it’s over in the blink of an eye. You’ll want to keep your finger near the “play” button so you can hear it all over again.
Cloud Rat’s Threshold is available through Bandcamp.