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You Don't See Songwriting Like This Often In Grind - 85%

Thumbman, December 5th, 2019

I can't say that I regularly keep up with the modern grindcore scene, but Cloud Rat are one of the bands that are on my radar. I think my favourite may always be the (classic style) screamo influenced debut. However, the band's albums have been remarkably consistent throughout their decade-long existence. While Cloud Rat does have their experimental side - just look at the electronic EP Do Not Let Me Off the Cliff - Pollinator keeps it interesting in more subtle ways. While a quite cohesive beast, there is a remarkable variety in their riffs. It almost feels like a disservice to the band to just call them grindcore and just leave it at that.

There's a lot in the mix here, but Cloud Rat do very much hold steadfast to their grindcore roots. However, this is a world away from bands that worship at the altar of early Napalm Death. While still ripping, Pollinator doesn't have the same abject scumminess to it. Hell, that string bend part in "The Mad" is downright pretty. Besides the great variety of super-heavy riffs here - hardcore outbursts, doomy plods, thrashy ragers . . . I could go on forever here - we have some moments that provide a contrast to all the doom and destruction. The way the guitars lightly flitter across the soundscape in songs like "Delayed Grief / / Farmhouse Red" is oddly beautiful. Man, "Luminescent Cellar" even has a post-rock section in it. With this much variety in a punky and grindy framework I'd almost compare this to power violence if it didn't feel so calculated.

As for the musicianship, everyone has chops. Rorick obviously knows a thing or two about weaving together powerful and varied riffs. The drumming is great, technically adept but still maintains a loose enough feel to be a hell of a lot fun. Madison's vocals are always a highlight. She has a very powerful scream, and you can tell she's putting a lot of emotion into her tales of the hardship of modern day life and the ills of society (even if you can rarely make out what she's saying). Songwriting often isn't something that plays a big role in grindcore, and I'm generally fine with that - the genre is about ripping riffs and intensity. However, the songwriting is really good here and it's what allows Pollinator to have such strong replay value.

Pollinator is yet another strong volley from Cloud Rat. Asides from the pensive post-rock and twisty sludge of "Luminescent Cellar", most of these songs don't sound that different from each other. However, Cloud Rat triumph through a barrage of powerful and varied riffs. That combined with the force of a songwriter prowess rarely seen in grindcore makes Pollinator a keeper. I'm not going to lie and say I've heard a lot of new grindcore releases this year, but I know this is one I'll be coming back to.