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Sometimes you pick up an album with no real expectations either way, and end up with a surprise right hook to the jaw. I picked this up based purely on Tiago Souza (Hand of Fire axeman)'s involvement. The cover art doesn't do the album justice, because it doesn't tell you what to expect. Like Tiago's long distance band with Dale Thompson (Perpetual Paranoia), this is another such band with Tiago playing all instruments except a guest drummer and Brazilian singer Paulo Lima providing the raspy soaring vocal chords. Through the Clouds departs from the thrashier sounds of Tiago's other bands, in that we settle into a bluesy classic hard rock vein, conjuring up visions of Whitesnake, Deep Purple, and the like. The title track is far and above the standout track and Paulo gives his best whiskey soaked rendition of Klaus Meine (Scorpions), although avoiding the higher end of Klaus' range. Sometimes the keys give something of an 80's retro vibe "Make Your Choice." The inclusion of two ballads on this short album continues the 80's element, and these two tracks "Lost" and "Wondering" slow things down with the sort of ballad that Cinderella might write, riding that fine line between rock and country (gasp!) music. Tiago is beyond great as a six string slinger, and even within mid tempo rockers like "Better Way" you can hear him tearing it up on some tasty solos. The nine song outing closes with a reprise of the "Blinded Minds" theme, and just the soaring vocals over acoustic guitar are still breath taking. Lyrically the band is positive in theme, without invoking God's name- "But I still believe in truth, I believe in a better place, For me and for you..." from "Crossfire," "Everyone is looking for something..." from "Wondering," and "I wish to live in new world, Where people be respected, For what they really are...Not by their way of life, possessions, Color of skin, religion... I wish a new real world" from "Hard Times." Verdict: technical knockout. Personally I could pass on the ballads, but the rest of the album is legit. Paulo's raspy melodic voice pairs well with Tiago's masterful guitar skills. So far Tiago Souza has the golden touch. If he is on an album- get it now. (Roxx Records) 4 out of 5 stars

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