Stoner/Doom Review:Clouds Taste Satanic’s Tales of Demonic Possession

I sometimes wonder why instrumental Doom or Stoner exists beyond one or two “classic” releases. That it’s an entire genre fascinates me: Earthless, Monobrow, Pelican, and Karma to Burn come to mind. But the REALLY heavy stuff, that’s where you find Bongripper and Clouds Taste Satanic. Again, I find it odd that they exist at all. They’re like something buried deep in the psyche, to the point the idea escapes conscious awareness. And then they are: not just a dream, thought, or even nightmare.

Then there’s the practical side of their being: how the heck do they survive? Clouds Taste Satanic preside over a niche of a niche, a subset so obscure that only the most adventurous and riff-craved denizens seek it out. And yet, it persists, with bands putting out albums regularly and gaining more respect and attention with every release.

Which brings us to Clouds Taste Satanic. For me, they’re at the top of the genre, and my first introduction to the instrumental side of things, back in 2013. Everything has been great, with 2021’s Cloud Covered be especially enjoyable for me.

And then we have Tales of Demonic Possession, which again I find to be their best, most grounded and yet “progressive” outing yet. From the very first minute, I was mesmerized by the Sounscapes/Frippertronics I heard. so much so that I literally reached out to Steven Scavuzzo to talk to him about it. I kept listening to the album until we managed to connect via Zoom, but I really hadn’t listened to it all the way through before we spoke. Check out that interview below:

Okay, the thumbnail is a bit creepy.

It really helped for me to talk to him before I listened to the rest of it, and I hope this helps you, or a few of you, as well. It’s helpful not only to recognize the influences of the band, but also the deliberate choices they made to reference them, and in many ways, subvert them. For example, the title of the album is indeed a direct reference to the classic and divisive Yes album, Tales from Topographic Oceans. But, and this is a big but, there’s nothing on this album that’s as hard to process as Tales. Instead, each of the four songs flow together nicely, with a different theme in each. It also helps that the titles clearly reflect the tone of each song. I think they serve as a great way to connect to the piece, which is kinda hard when there aren’t any lyrics to guide you along the way.

But that’s one of the things that’s great about Clouds Taste Satanic: they don’t really need lyrics. In fact, words would probably get in the way of the dream/nightmare approach they take to things. Besides, both the Stoner and Doom are strong with this one, with plenty of psychedelic moments as well. Words? Who needs words, which would take you out of the personal experience you’re having with the music.

Which is probably my #1 reason to give instrumental Stoner/Doom a try, especially if you haven’t experienced it before, as well as my #1 reason to recommend Tales of Satanic Possession if this is your first time. This album is nearly perfect in its delivery of an intense but enjoyable experience, fluctuating from dream-like sequences to full on head-banging. There is a long history of this kind of music, dating back to Classical or Symphonic works vs. the Opera approach, and brought to “modern” sensibilities beginning with Mike Oldfield’s famous Tubular Bells in the early 70’s. Clouds Taste Satanic is clearly aware of all that history, and have produced another work of art that both honors the past while moving Stoner/Doom forward.

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