Cloudscape’s fourth album doesn’t offer any wild deviations from their norm. The Swedes started out as a melodic progressive metal band, heavy on technicalities, drama and melody à la Dream Theater and Symphony X, and this is another 62 minutes of the same.
New Era opens with the fast-paced, slightly atonal Silver Ending, and Mike Andersson’s warble gets a real outing from the start. It sets the tone well, but you’ll know what to expect from the rest of the album anyway.
Voyager 9 is hugely reminiscent of Rush – always a wonderful thing – before evening out and chugging away in a squall of guitars. It’s the longest song on the album and shows the band at their most comfortable. If anything, the shorter songs seem slightly truncated, as if they haven’t been as well thought through as this string-laden beauty.
Ultimately though New Era is a decent album that strives for more than it achieves. Even after years of stretching themselves, Cloudscape are still a metal band at heart. That’s no bad thing, but there’s just not enough quality here to take them to that next level.