Sometimes a band comes out of nowhere and slams you with an unexpected impact. That was Gloam for me last year with their debut full length Hex of Nine Heads, a fully charged battery of vicious dynamic black metal. I wasn’t expecting anything else for a while, so while it’s almost too brief a stay, I’m more than happy to put their new EP Death is the Beginning on repeat as many times as needed to get through the day.
Listening to their 2012 demo and Vanquished EP from 2014 you’d swear this group was a direct descendant of the second wave, and not some dudes who got together in California less than a decade ago. This makes the creative and technical leap taken with Hex of the Nine Heads even more exciting, as the band upped the interplay of other genres – particularly doom and thrash – without diluting the solid foundation of black metal the entire is built on. You would expect (and need) this kind of ebb and flow on lengthier tracks like the massive “Where Freezing Winds Forever Blow” but it’s evident in the shorter tracks like “Execration Trance” as well. And it’s this kind of back and forth that gets emphasized on Death is the Beginning.
Although it’s titled “Anguish (Intro)” the opening track blossoms (yeah, I used “blossom” to describe a black metal record – have at it) from the picked doom chords into something much more sinister, beckoning an invitation to the fury to come. At over 3 minutes it might be a little too long of an introduction to the two proper songs, but the mood is most definitely served. By the time you get to the pick slide of “…Of a Carrion Kind” we’ve moved into full-blown Gloam territory, with sickening lead lines trading off with a storm of buzzing rhythm guitars and drums underneath. In that regard it’s an inverted reflection of the closing title track, which emphasizes the doom and more brooding aspects while the black metal accentuates and serves as counterpoint.
It’s altogether too brief a taste of an ascending band, but the brevity of Death is the Beginning just leaves you wanting more. Here’s hoping whatever Gloam does next comes sooner rather than later.