Album Review – Cloud Catcher / Trails Of Kozmic Dust (2017)

Blasting top-of-the-line music since their genesis in 2013, this cosmic power trio is inviting you for an electrified journey through the realms of Rock N’ Roll, Experimental Metal and Acid Rock with their brand new album.

There’s a cosmic power trio hailing from Denver, the capital of Colorado, in the United States, that has been forging their own path in music by blasting top-of-the-line Heavy Rock since their genesis in 2013, described by the band members themselves as “heavy-boogie rock on acid”. The trio, known as Cloud Catcher and consisting of Rory Rummings on guitar and vocals, Kam Wentworth on bass and Jared Soloman Handman on drums, has spent considerable time crafting their own style of heavy cosmic rock, taking deep inspiration from the music by Black Sabbath, Grand Funk Railroad, Spirit Caravan, Led Zeppelin and tons of other classic groups, resulting in their brand new amazing album titled Trails Of Kozmic Dust.

Cloud Catcher have been on a roll since day one, delivering year after year high-quality material, starting with their debut EP Colossus in 2013, followed by some rehearsal demos in 2014, the full-length album Enlightened Beyond Existence in 2015, and the single Righteous Ruler in 2016, before returning with the full-bodied Trails Of Kozmic Dust now in 2017. Displaying an enthralling cover art designed by Adam Burke of Nightjar Illustration, this is an album that will expand your music horizons and put you on a trance from start to finish, and you won’t even need to take any acid to feel the band’s chaotic, groovy and intricate music flowing through your veins and especially through your mind.

Psychedelic sounds warm up the listener for a journey back to the 60’s and 70’s entitled Astral Warlord, a vibrant and electrified tune full of breaks and variations where albeit all musicians sound incredibly creative and focused, it’s Jared who steals the spotlight with his refined technique, setting the perfect tone for the song’s crazy, poetic lyrics (“Winds of dawn are howlin’ / Calling your name in the dark of the night / Winter comes for your life / Cold is the steel that ends your strife”). Celestial Empress brings more top-tier Heavy Rock smoothly flowing from the band’s sharp instruments, with Rory delivering an inspired performance on vocals. Moreover, the instrumental pieces sound like a hybrid of the early days of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, in special the excellent bass lines by Kam and the fiery guitar solos by Rory. And without allowing the listener to breathe, the power trio keeps blasting rumbling bass lines and distorted riffs in the groovy Beyond The Electric Sun, a song that contains all elements fans of the genre are always searching for, those being heaviness, progressiveness, craziness and  tons of feeling, with its final instrumental sequence being beyond astounding.

Then we have quick Jazz-inspired break from all insanity going on, named Dimensional Interlude, followed by Visions, a psychedelic composition tailored for lovers of Grand Funk Railroad and Captain Beyond (with a metallic twist à la Iron Maiden), with sheer acidity emanating from the guitar lines and vocals by Rory while Kam and Jared keep the reverberation at a maximum level with their pounding bass and drums. After listening to such powerful song, you’ll certainly ask yourself how far into space this talented band can go with their music. Anyway, the title-track Trails Of Kozmic Dust is yet another a complex, soulful creation by Rory, Kam and Jared, quickly transporting you to another dimension, not to mention the song’s eccentric lyrics (“Trails of kozmic dust connect my soul / Tellin’ me secrets that should not be told / Time is iridescent in black holes / Trails of kozmic dust will guide you home”).

Before the final curtains fall in Trails Of Kozmic Dust, the low-tuned, menacing bass guitar by Kam slowly drags us to the world of Cloud Catcher in the  Blues-ish Heavy Rock instrumental trip Super Acid Magick, with its last minute being a demolishing display of how intricate Experimental Rock can be; whereas Righteous Ruler, which builds an instant connection with its predecessor, sounds as if the band is returning to planet earth after such otherworldly voyage through the realms of rock music, again showcasing potent riffs by Rory and the always roaring bass by Kam, while Jared continues to do magic behind his drums. In addition, if you want to know how good this power trio sounds when they convey all their music madness to the stage, you can enjoy an amazing live performance by Cloud Catcher at the Marquis Theater in Denver, on December 19, 2015 playing several songs from Trails Of Kozmic Dust by clicking HERE, HERE and HERE.

If you enjoyed becoming part of the hallucinatory sonic expedition led by Cloud Catcher, go check their Facebook page for more news, and purchase Trails Of Kozmic Dust at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Totem Cat Records’ Big Cartel in CD or LP format, at the Stickman Records’ webstore, at Discogs or on Amazon. The never-failing fusion of Rock N’ Roll, Experimental Metal and Acid Rock has always had an enormous potential to blow our minds under any circumstances, but when the band in question has an undisputed, full-blown talent like Cloud Catcher as we can see in Trails Of Kozmic Dust, we know that mental explosion will be even stronger and more potent than anyone could expect.

Best moments of the album: Astral Warlord, Beyond The Electric Sun and Visions.

Worst moments of the album: Righteous Ruler.

Released in 2017 Totem Cat Records

Track listing
1. Astral Warlord 5:31
2. Celestial Empress 5:41
3. Beyond The Electric Sun 7:06
4. Dimensional Interlude 1:03
5. Visions 4:28
6. Trails Of Kozmic Dust 6:21
7. Super Acid Magick 3:34
8. Righteous Ruler 5:42

Band members
Rory Rummings – guitar, vocals
Kam Wentworth – bass, backing vocals
Jared Soloman Handman – drums

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Metal Chick of the Month – Ashley “Ellyllon” Jurgemeyer

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Fall for the love of me… Crawl for the love of me.

If you’re a fan of Cradle Of Filth, Abigail Williams or Orbs, you must have already heard of the red-haired diva Ashley “Ellyllon” Jurgemeyer, Ashley Ellyllon or Ashley Jurgemeyer, a very talented pianist, keyboardist and songwriter involved in so many different projects and bands, including scoring for film and television, that it’s quite hard to list all of them here without missing anything.

Born on July 30, 1984 in Scottsdale, Arizona, but currently residing in Los Angeles, California, Ashley started her music career at the age of six by taking classical piano lessons, finally earning some years later her Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory and Composition from Arizona State University in 2006. During her years at the Arizona State University, she studied with John Metz, Jody Rockmaker, and James DeMars, and was granted the Louis Kerr Grant in composition. After her graduation, she began her career in Rock N’ Roll and Heavy Metal in New York, where she was able to combine her background in classical music with the more modern musicality of genres such as Experimental Rock, Symphonic Black Metal and Extreme Metal.

Our redhead pianist was one of the founding members of American Symphonic Black Metal band Abigail Williams in 2005, with whom she recorded one EP called Legend, in 2006, and two full-length albums: In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns, in 2008, and more recently Becoming, in 2012, this time just as a guest musician. During her years with the band, where she was always responsible for all piano, synths, and orchestration parts, and sometimes also for some background vocals, she was able to go on tour and share the stage with Extreme Metal icons Emperor, Dark Funeral, Enslaved, among many others. If you want to know more about her contribution to the music of Abigail Williams, my suggestions as a start are the awesome songs FloodsInto the Ashes and Acolytes, all three from the album In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns.

Between her departure from Abigail Williams in 2009 and her return in 2012, Ashley became the new keyboardist for English Extreme Metal band Cradle Of Filth, replacing English keyboardist Rosie Smith. She toured with the band for a while, even taking part of the music video for The Death Of Love (watch it at the end of this text), from the album Godspeed On The Devil’s Thunder (which she didn’t record), and then recorded her only album with the band, the excellent Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa, in 2010. Her beautiful keyboard and piano lines can be enjoyed in powerful and heavy songs such as The Cult of Venus Aversa, Retreat of the Sacred Heart, and especially Lilith Immaculate (although she’s not in the official music video for this song). However, she mentioned her favorite Cradle Of Filth song to play live was not from her album with the band, but the sonic massacre Cthulhu Dawn, from the masterpiece Midian (2000).

She’s also part of American Experimental Rock supergroup Orbs, together with Dan Briggs (Between the Buried and Me) and Adam Fisher (Fear Before), with whom she recorded the album Asleep Next to Science, in 2010, the single These People Are Animals, in 2014, and now in 2015 the band will be releasing a new full-length album entitled Past Life Regression. The music here is completely different from Abigail Williams and Cradle Of Filth, as you’ll notice in the songs Sayer of the Law, Megaloblastic Madness, Something Beautiful, and The Northwestern Bearitories B – Kid Cancer, which is something mentioned by Ashley in one of her rare interviews like this one for PunkWorldViews.com.

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Besides those bands and projects, Ashley was also responsible for the programming and string arrangement in the album Until I Feel Nothing (2011) by American Deathcore band Carnifex, and helped American Shock Rock singer Ryann Donnelly with the songwriting for her Girl EP (2012), which can be seen for example in the song Bang.. But hold your breath, because there’s still a lot more to go: our gorgeous “ginger” musician is also working on a solo classical piano album; composed the song Sunday Sundress for the Handmade Hostess Official Book Trailer; played keyboards and composed Casting The Circle, a very interesting song by a project called The Dreadful Hours; and was named “Best Keyboardist of 2010” by Alternative Press.

Are you tired already? Well, Ashley is definitely not, and it looks like she’s always ready for more when it’s about music, as she’s also featured on a video called Antiquity Music Sessions – Ep. 1 – The Baldwin Solid Body Harpsichord, where she beautifully plays the Baldwin Solid Body Harpsichord and, although we cannot see her pretty face, we can enjoy some of her abilities as a musician (and her perfect red hair, of course). And don’t forget to check all her other contributions, compositions and projects on her official website. In addition, one can imagine how much time Ashley has to spend on the road with all her bands and projects, and what she likes to do to spend free time on tour. She mentioned she loves exploring any city she’s in, reading, writing new music, connecting to her family through the internet, and of course playing her keyboards.

Ashley’s list of idols in the world of music is very eclectic, including many classical masters such as Russian pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, Polish composer Frédéric Chopin, French composer Claude Debussy and Russian classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz, as well as more contemporary artists like English musician Matt Bellamy (Muse) and American keyboardist Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater). Moreover, her top 5 albums simply corroborate her broad music taste, as the list is composed by Muse’s Origin of Symmetry, Darkest Hour’s Undoing Ruin, Dimmu Borgir’s Enthrone Darkness Triumphant, Radiohead’s OK Computer, and Sigur Rós’ Agaetis Byrjun, which means she’s a fan of Alternative/Experimental Rock, Melodic Death Metal, Symphonic Black Metal, Post-Rock, and remember we’re only talking about her favorite albums, not everything that she listens to while performing her day-to-day activities!

In regards to her personal life, Ashley loves yoga, running, cooking, traveling, and curiously one of her favorite hobbies is making comic books. I tried to find anything she’s already produced in terms of comics on the web, but nothing came up. Maybe it’s just a personal thing for her, in other words, something she’s not willing to share with anybody else? Anyway, talking about her likes and dislikes, among her top places are Greece and New Zealand, her favorite movie is the unparalleled classic Silence of the Lambs, her favorite books are “Mozart in the Jungle” by Blair Tindall and “Still Life With Woodpecker” by Tom Robbins, and finally her favorite food and drink are, respectively, Thai food and Blood Mary. Why am I not surprised our redhead rocker loves a drink that has BLOOD in its name and is completely RED?

Equipment
Roland Fantom G8
Yamaha S90 ES
Roland Juno
Nord Stage 2 88

Ashley Jurgemeyer’s Official website
Ashley Jurgemeyer’s Official Facebook page
Ashley Jurgemeyer’s Official Twitter