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KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE, USA,  Fired up with creativity, vision and full throttle momentum as they continue to vibe on their full-length debut on Blue Collar Records – due later this year – high octane Knoxville, TN rockers Count Pariah follow their critically acclaimed EP Hymns for Heathens with the new project’s lead single “Black Cloud,” dropping February 3.

Penned by Count Pariah with lyrics by the band’s front man James “Shibby” Croft, it’s a tight, darkly brooding, cathartically intense track that marks an auspicious start of their new collaborative relationship with Grammy winning engineer/producer Justin Miller of Philadelphia’s Milkboy the Studio. Affectionately known as “Juicy,” Miller has worked in multiple genres with local up and comers Miles Chancellor, Suzanne Sheer and 4VR, in addition to major label artists James Blake, Dolla $Sign, Patti Labelle and Jazmine Sullivan on her 2020 Best R&B Grammy winning album Heaux Tales.

Though the words and intent of the song are all Shibby, guitarist Jason Breland says that the opening riff and first line came to him out of the blue one Sunday morning. As with many of Count Pariah’s tracks, Shibby keeps his incisive lines on “Black Cloud” intentionally vague so that listeners can bring their own life experiences and interpretations to it. Yet the lines in the explosive chorus “I’m faceless, I’m nameless/I’m the thing you can’t live without. . .I’m weightless, I’ll shapeshift/Into the thing that brings you doubt/I’m your black cloud” reflect a sense that there’s a heavy darkness we all carry with us, even if we often cover it with smile and the façade we show to the world.

“It’s that thing we all have, but that people don’t always understand,” says Shibby. “If you dare to tell someone the truth about it, that person may wonder how anyone could ever deal with it. For some, it’s all they’ve ever known. Whether it’s constant or comes in waves, it brings people terror. This song is about how you handle your own darkness. When I write with Count Pariah, the song usually starts with the music and I let it take me where I can get a certain vibe or emotion. All I can say is that ‘Black Cloud’ is very personal to me, yet written in such a way that everyone can relate.”

Darkness has long been part of Count Pariah’s edgy, soul-bending aesthetic. Essentially Pop wrote of their previous single Paranoia”: “While there’s plenty of passion in their sound, there’s also a clear tension and unease, which is to be heard in the instrumentals, but there’s still an element of beauty amongst all the darkness and mystery. JW Vibe wrote: “In less than 20 minutes, Count Pariah will truly cleanse your soul. Just as traditional church hymns express worship, these Hymns for Heathens express and are designed to purge us of the darkness.”

Following “Black Cloud,” Count Pariah will be releasing two more lead singles ahead of their as yet untitled full length album, starting with “Risk It All.” “Black Cloud” and “Risk It All” were recorded at Milkboy the Studio, with the rest of the tracks being tracked at Pink Moon Sound in Knoxville.

Gary Bernard
Blue Collar Records, LLC