The first few albums from this Swedish act were decent slabs of death and doom, but Clouds is the true turning point in their career; where it became clear they were destined for so much more. It may not have the psychedelic, crushing weight of its successor Wildhoney nor the abstract brilliance of A Deeper Kind of Slumber, but in its day, Clouds was a pretty monumental effort.
As soon as "In a Dream" opens with its somber acoustic guitars and ambient synthesizers, you know you are in for a trip. The crushing guitars of its verse perfectly elevate Edlund's vocals to their brutal best, and the melodies and organs create the beautiful evocation of true mystique. "Clouds" is almost mid paced with some creepy melodies and a nice shuffle groove to switch riffs. "Smell of Incense" is even better, a Celtic Frost vibe propelling it into its catchy and simple vocal pattern, but the true joy is the great death metal riff contained within. The smell of incense takes me high! "A Caress of Stars" is glorious doom, the melody of the guitar evokes perfect sorrow, and the song is a pretty nice precursor for the next album Wildhoney. Hedlun's whisper of on my head, in my heart and my blood is supple and sensual. "The Sleeping Beauty" is another similar track, with a very doomy riff lapsing into a calm verse driven by keyboards and sparse guitars. Love the masculine gang chorus. "Forever Burning Flames" is one of my personal favorites here; grooving rhythms give way to another of those final, killer death metal riffs of Tiamat's career, and Edlund's vocals sound sick.
Bodies are courses where maggots are turning
Souls are flames that are forever burning
I for one would love to have Edlund start a pure death metal band at some point. "The Scapegoat" offers another wonderful surprise in its mellow acoustics and climactic symphonic chorus. Then I turn to you and say...I worship Lucifer! "Undressed" takes us out with more the band's gothic landscapes and a bizarre but beautiful ending.
This was pretty classic material, it possessed a lot more ambition than Sumerian Cry or The Astral Sleep and I was quite taken with it. I still am. I've always been a Tiamat fan, even in their more openly gothic phase way ahead of this, but it's the trio of Clouds, Wildhoney and A Deeper Kind of Slumber that the band will always be legendary for. Easily recommended to fans of gothic death/doom or unique and quality metal in general. And if you're named for a draconic Babylonian sea goddess, you've got quite the legend to live up to.
Verdict: Epic Win [9/10] (liars don't listen)