New Era is an apropos name for Cloudscape's fourth album as the band has gone through some significant changes. In the last several years, the band lost three of its founding members including bass player Hans Perrson, drummer Roger Landin, and guitarist Bjorn Eliasson. Cloudscape had to scramble to fill the gaps.
New Era could also refer to the course of Cloudscape's musical direction. Although uneven maybe a better word for the album. While melodic metal, that of power and nuances of prog, still bolsters the arrangements, there seems a slant to a more raw modern sound. You can hear this in Your Desire and Share Your Energy, which includes some dirty vocals from Peter Wildoer (Darkane, James LaBrie).
Conversely, there's some familiar Cloudscape material here as well. Pull the Brake finds them accessing more melodic hard rock. Voyager 9, the longest cut, offers the power prog side of the band. Heroes integrates a little of both. Ultimately, New Era is mixed bag of songs, and I can honestly say I can't point to one as being jaw-dropping compelling. Nevertheless, this is not a bad album either. It's merely different. Possibly with a few more spins it would grow on me. But considering two spins brought to a mostly ambivalent assessment, it's not likely to happen. Fans, and the curious, should be the first to check out New Era.
Embarking on a New Era with a significantly altered line up, Cloudscape offers a mixed collection of songs that range from modern heavy rock with dirty vocals to progressive power metal.