Album Review: Gloam – “Hex of Nine Heads”

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California’s Gloam have been making a name in the underground for themselves since 2012. After releasing an initial demo and the Vanquished EP, the band struck black metal gold with their full length debut Hex of Nine Heads. Initially released on cassette via Caligari Records in an edition of 175 copies, Hex proved to be an instant success, quickly selling out from the label and generating impressive amounts of hype. Enter celebrated underground heavy music label Gilead Media, who were quick to see the potential in reissuing the album on vinyl. With the reissue date fast approaching, now is the best time to get acquainted with this dark and winding album if you somehow missed it the first time around. 

Gloam’s particular brand of black metal comes packing a dark and weighty atmosphere that conjures an almost palpable sense of dread and aggression. The compositions move from sinuous, plodding doom to roaring, thrashy black metal in the blink of an eye. Over the course of the albums hour long run time, the listener is pulled ever further down into the darkness. The two acoustic tracks that bookend the album serve as the only points of reprieve, but are nice ways to settle into and out of an exhausting listen. Indeed, Hex of Nine Heads is a challenging album, given the band’s penchant for writing songs that exceed the ten minute mark and their often meandering approach to composition. With Gloam, however, it is less about the destination and more about the journey; it’s all about the slow build of tension rather than hitting hard right out of the gate. Once you let go and allow yourself to drift with the flow of the songs, Hex of Nine Heads is able to render its full effect onto the listener, delivering the kind of crushing black metal that works its icy fingers into your soul and doesn’t let go.

Hex of Nine Heads being reissued on vinyl can only help to achieve this atmosphere. The sound quality advantage over cassettes helps to bring to fruition the sharp production of the album. Recorded by veteran producer Greg Wilkinson and mastered by Dan Randall at Mammoth Sound Mastering, Hex features a sound that is a step above your average black metal band’s first album. Far from the tinny and blown-out production that is often associated with black metal, every instrument is mixed in perfect harmony with the full dynamic range being utilized. The packaging will also include new and expanded artwork from Barney Fried, who did the original artwork for the cassette release.

Gloam
Gloam

Gilead Media is about to add another gem in Gloam to an already long list of quality releases, and you have the opportunity to hear Hex of Nine Heads — a highly lauded album — in a new and clearer light. Fall under this album’s spell and see what all the fuss is about.

-Vincent


Hex of Nine Heads is available for preorder now at Eroding Winds, the official webstore for all Gilead Media releases. For more info on Gloam visit their Facebook page.

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