- Year 2017
- Genre Black MetalDeath MetalGroove MetalSludge
- Country United States
- Label Lifeblood Inc./eOne Music
- Rating Excellent
Washington D.C.’s Gloom is a band I’ve been following for about three years now, having seen them open a number of local shows since that time. One of the things that has always stood out to me about their music is how it straddles the line between a number of different extreme metal genres without sacrificing songwriting ability, which can be hard for a lot of newer groups to grasp. This is evident throughout Gloom’s debut full length ‘Solaris’, which touches upon elements of death metal, black metal, and sludge while still providing riffs that will hook listeners from one song to the next. With an equal balance of crushingly heavy and atmospheric moments, there’s plenty to keep you coming back to discover the nuances of what this album has to offer.
Early on the riffs flip flop between black metal and death metal from one moment to the next, mixing some of that spine chilling melodic blasting with the type of extremely heavy and down-tuned riffing that you’d expect from death metal
Technically you could categorize Gloom as ‘blackened death metal’, but that’s simplifying everything that the instrumentals have to offer throughout ‘Solaris’. When it comes down to it, each song makes a point to hit the listener with dense and heavy instrumentation, but how the band gets there and what they do with it varies with each track. Early on the riffs flip flop between black metal and death metal from one moment to the next, mixing some of that spine chilling melodic blasting with the type of extremely heavy and down-tuned riffing that you’d expect from death metal. But as you get further into the album, these elements get blurred together even further and there are some slower sections that pull in some sludge and doom. What I like the most about ‘Solaris’ is that it doesn’t sacrifice strong songwriting to achieve this versatility, as no matter where on the extreme metal spectrum a particular song falls there is always some type of groove or melody that will capture your attention. Even though the material flies by in a little over half an hour there are a lot of details to take in, and with each listen you’re likely to find yourself finding new details of each piece. The production values also work in Gloom’s favor, as the atmospheric melodies on some of the black metal leaning sections are given room to breathe and there are quite a few audible bass lines that further emphasize the heavy grooves.
The instrumentals aren’t the only are of the group’s music that showcase versatility though, as Gloom’s vocalist Bill Calomiris is up to the task when it comes to providing screams and growls that blur the lines between genres. It’s not uncommon to hear him moving between low pitched death growls and high screams from one verse to the next with ease, and no matter where his pitch goes he never loses any intensity in the process. In fact, if you were to hear 1% Empty which has raspy black metal screams and Sub Umbral which features extremely low brutal death metal growls and gurgles, you might not guess that this was the same singer. Plus I can’t say I was expecting a metal vocal cover of Alice in Chains’ Them Bones which you might not even recognize the first time you hear it.
‘Solaris’ leaves Gloom plenty of room to further expand in whichever direction they choose, but they’ve still delivered a heavy-hitting debut that has plenty of substance behind its variety of extreme metal styles. Whether its dense brutal death metal, atmospheric black metal, or sludge, these guys are capable of crossing the line over into those genres without it feeling stretched or forced and that goes a long way. I’ve found myself returning to give this album another listen quite a bit over the past week, and I suspect that quite a few of you will feel the same way.