Shoegaze, that dreamy, feedback-drenched genre that started in the late ‘80s, supposedly died during the following decade in the rush of the Grunge movement.
That meant cultural touchstones like My Bloody Valentine would hardly ever become more than a highlight in the underground, and the Shoegaze movement has since done little more than capture occasional sparks of life in songs written by artsy contemporary artists.
But then there are bands like CLUSTERSUN, an Italian trio that has taken the Shoegaze model and dressed it in Heavy Psych.
The end product is something catchy, impressive, and accessible for fans in numerous Rock subgenres.
Their latest album, Avalanche, was released on May 20, 2021, and it’s another refinement of their sonic fingerprint. This is one unique album worth stopping and enjoying.
CLUSTERSUN is a three-piece from Catania, Italy, that originally formed in 2013. The CLUSTERSUN members are:
- Marco Chisari – Lead Vocals and Bass
- Mario Lo Faro – Guitar
- Andrea Conti – Drums and Backing Vocals
For Avalanche, mixing and mastering were handled by James Aparicio. Marco Baldassari managed the album artwork.
Avalanche Album Review
Track One: Desert Daze
“Desert Daze” kicks off Avalanche with powerful drums and a rush of layered Shoegaze guitars. This sets the tone for the entire album: fast, persistent, and energetic. Interestingly, Marco Chisari’s vocal approach sounds a great deal like Liam Gallagher of Oasis. This callback to the British Rock band will be a common feature of Avalanche, especially since guitarist Mario Lo Faro sounds a great deal like Noel Gallagher on the six-string.
Track Two: All Your Pain
What if you stripped the high shrill out of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard and cranked up the reverb? You might have something along the lines of “All Your Pain,” a song that begins at an ethereal trot, then builds toward its ultimate destination. Wrapping yourself in “All Your Pain” is a little like stumbling through a shadowy hall of mirrors—you’re never quite sure what’s real or what to expect next. As on “Desert Daze,” the vocals and lead guitar scream out Oasis—and that balances out the dark mystery of the experience.
Track Three: Closer/Deeper
Instead of relying so heavily on the Shoegaze approach, “Closer/Deeper” relies most on the urgency of a fuzzy rhythm section during the verses—then brings an oceanic wave of fuzz that rises and falls throughout each chorus. “Closer/Deeper” retains all of the haunting discomfort of “All Your Pain,” and there’s no promise of a reprieve as it fades out of existence before “Juggernaut.”
Track Four: Juggernaut
“Juggernaut” opens on a wave of Shoegaze and a heartbreaking lead guitar before the vocals finally enter. This track is an emotional rollercoaster, and even though it’s not the most captivating song on the record, its emotional delivery is enough to keep you from skipping.
Track Five: Avalanche (Legion 5)
Massive and psychedelic, “Avalanche (Legion 5)” is one of the most impressive tracks on the entire album. Although the build is slow and gradual, Psychedelic fans will appreciate it.
Track Six: Barricades
From the opening notes, “Barricades” is the heaviest song on the album. After kicking off with a mountainous bass and tense drums, an uncertain guitar enters the precarious fray to lead us to the first verse. Like so many other songs on this album, “Barricades” is deliberately trance-inducing—at least in the first half.
Not surprisingly, “Barricades” is about coping with destroyed love. To capture the sick, disappointing side of relationships, the music video contains a nod to IT’s Pennywise.
Track Seven: Sinking In To You
There’s plenty to love about “Sinking In To You.” While the Oasis influence is still heavy, you’ll also find hints of R.E.M. and even Hüsker Dü—that seminal Alternative Rock band that proved so influential in the American Shoegaze scene. This is by far the most effective song on the album, although the band has stripped so many of the Shoegaze elements prevalent through so much of it.
Track Eight: Scar
CLUSTERSUN saved their heaviest hitter for last. “Scar” opens with an energetic rush of fuzz—and the pace never really slows down. Instead, the band adds to the soundscape over time, even borrowing some of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s layered shouts. Although though “Scar” contains just as much haunting anxiety as the rest of Avalanche, it is still one of its catchiest tunes.
Standout Tracks: “Desert Daze,” “Avalanche (Legion 5),” and “Scar”
Pros: The Shoegaze space is a tough one to do well (even My Bloody Valentine saw little commercial praise), but CLUSTERSUN smartly weaves in elements of Psychedelic Rock and even horror to add more color to the palette. Properly blended, Avalanche is an intriguing concept, and the end result occasionally even comes across with a dash of Stoner Rock to enjoy. When the band steps out of their trance-inducing waves, they make room for a few memorable hooks and catchy moments.
Cons: “Intriguing” doesn’t necessarily translate into “good,” and Avalanche occasionally feels like a better concept than a polished final product. With so much unease churning through these notes, CLUSTERSUN may have been wise to adopt a heavier Metal influence or rougher vocals to give that discomfort a sturdier platform.
Learn More About CLUSTERSUN
To learn more about CLUSTERSUN, subscribe to their YouTube channel, follow them on Bandcamp, listen on Spotify, or check them out on social media (Facebook or Instagram).