Review: Gloam – Hex Of Nine Heads

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Released on July 25th this year, the debut album Hex Of Nine Heads from Santa Cruz black metal band Gloam is quite unique and worthy of your attention. 

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After doing a cursory search for “toiletovhell gloam” to make sure I wasn’t going to review something that had been covered already but buried in the pile of awesome that can happen so frequently in this here bowl, I discovered a brief but nonetheless informative review of their (free!) 2014 EP Vanquished, from none other than the Masterlord. Upon learning that this album had not been attended to, I was simultaneously disappointed and glad. Disappointed that this had been overlooked for review thus far by the Toilet and glad that I got to be the one to gush about it in an over exuberant manner. I also learned that gloam is the period immediately following sunset. The time when albums like this transcend and stake their claim for ownership of the night.

On Hex Of Nine Heads, Gloam start out squarely in what I would describe as a form of intricate doom, this doesn’t persist too long though, as less than half way through the first track the Californian quartet unleash a chaotic blackened fury, which persists for much of the remaining 62 minute duration. The album doesn’t bend genres so much as it harnesses their power, utilising aspects of doom but resting overall in the realm of black metal. The intro track is an exceptionally crafted layering of acoustic guitars, replete with gusty background ambiance, which serves as a portal of sorts and segues perfectly into the first song ‘Where Freezing Winds Forever Blow’. This 14 minute beast of a track continues the slow crawling build-up, giving you that unhinged feeling of tension which is exactly what one desires from a release of this style. Never tame, its essence primal.

I’m going to embed the third track ‘Torrents Of Blood’, which I would consider to be the best representation of what is on offer here, but I would highly recommend investing the extra bit of time and stabbing play on the original embed up top. The tom beating intro of ‘Execration Trance’ adorned with its dirty raked chords which give way to the odd yet catchy main progression are just one example of how Gloam manage to make the unconventional work for them. The sixth track ‘Corporeal Torment’ has some throwbacks to OSDM single-note riffing in the intro and is suitably headbangable. The doom-laden title track follows and ends with a crack of thunder, ushering in the storm which was alluded to in the intro. The album is bookended with another beautiful clean section which will leave you ruminating in the puddles forming around you.

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The production should please both members of the lo-fi camp and listeners who seek clarity, which in itself is a remarkable feat. Gloam manage to achieve this through the dampened use of distortion which allows each note to be distinguished whilst still sounding raw. The guitars, in particular the lead motifs, have a similar sound to the those found on the excellent 2015 releases from Predatory Light (split with Vorde) and Volahn (Aqábál). The leads have that drenched-in-delay/reverb tone rather unique to surf guitar, which when married with the black metal note choices and phrasing, create a vibrant and often hallucinatory effect. The rhythms they sail atop of are similar in style to the majestic riffing present on Barshasketh’s Ophidian HenosisThe bass is ever-present and solidly performed. The vocals don’t offer much variance, which is not really a problem in this particular situation, as they appear to act as a factor of stoic consistency rather than as a decorative element which is usually the case. The music has enough substance and intrigue on its own.

Throughout Hex Of Nine Heads, Gloam show a deft ability to always be aware of when to make a change. Be it through adding another layer of guitar or shifting gears into a different passage completely, there is not a moment in which they stagnate, something we all could learn from. So don’t stall, head over to their bandcamp and pick yourself up a copy of this amazing debut.

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I really wanted to give this album a 4.75/5 but our system works in halves so it gets 4.5/5. In all honesty, I’m sure it will be a 5/5 to some of you, providing you give it the chance it definitely deserves.

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  • HEEEEYYYYOOOO GUUUUUUUUYYSSS

    GL

    • Hubert

      hi

    • Maik Beninton™

      HAAAAAAYYYYOOOO SILVER.

    • GL!

      LL

      • Your avatar is rambo, bro!

        • I am finishing A Link to the Past this month in my awesome and adorable Game Boy Advance! I’m paying tribute to the dark skinned latino Link of that game.

          http://cdn.wikimg.net/strategywiki/images/d/d6/Zelda_ALttP_Link.gif

          • Muy bien!

          • Final Ganon’s Tower is hard and the puzzles are mean. Love it.

          • How was your vacation/break the other week?

          • Pretty cool. Did some errands the first week and the second week I went to my hometown.

            I ate a lot of wonderful food. Watch a couple of movies. Was free of the shitty coworkers. Hang out with my family. It was relaxing.

          • With as hot as it is there, are there places to swim and cool off??

            GL

          • My hometown is a couple of degrees cooler than Maracaibo, sometimes. It’s not that far from here, though.

            The great thing is that it rains more often, meanwhile in Maracaibo we don’t have rain, practically.

            It was cool to see rain and have the smell of humid soil again.

          • Humid soil. NICE. We are finally having some warm weather of late. It is going to be cool again tomorrow. Fun!

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            Gah, just when I think the 95+ days are done with over here, we get hit with several more days of it. Fall and winter can’t come soon enough!

          • KJM

            Fall yes. Winter? FUCK NO.

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            I thrive in winter! Not so much back in Chicago, but here it’s tame as hell, and only about 2-3 weeks worth of actual winter weather.

          • KJM

            I’m not looking forward to 2ft snowbanks and icy sidewalks. At least night time is bearable in the Summer. During Winter it goes from bad to worse at night.

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            Altogether, we probably get about 5-7 of snow altogether over here (southeast VA). Would I want to go through another Chicago winter? FUCK NO! Especially after 2011 (2nd worst blizzard in Chicago history).

          • KJM

            A friend picked 2014-15 to skip his usual Winter escape from Boston. He swears he’ll never make that mistake again.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            *Fall no. Winter? FUCK YES!
            FTFY

          • KJM

            Fine. You can run all my outdoor errands this Winter, including shoveling.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            I’ve my own yard too. If you provide me insurance, solid pay, a roof over my head and some food, I’ll take the offer.

          • KJM

            Heck no. I don’t get paid to do the errands. In fact,most of them involve me paying money to various utilities, landlord, TV/internet,etc.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            Then do that shit on your own. I only asked for reasonable things. I’m not gonna steal from your dank weed storage unlike some other people would.

          • KJM

            Then you keep your stupid ass Winter in your make believe fun land.

            I also can’t have you finding the secret vault where I keep all the stolen Pepes.

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            I’m going to get those Pepes, for they are my property. The whole world is my property.

          • KJM

            Nope. Gonna make double the GBP selling them to scene kids. Tendies incoming!

    • Janitor Jim Duggan

      GL! Where have you been?

      • Outta town on business, son. Didn’t you get my telegraph?

        GL

        • Janitor Jim Duggan

          I didn’t get the telegraph. At least you’re back.

    • Sir Tapir The Based :]

      For the second time in my life I was happy. Then you came back.

  • Vote for Jeb

    Thanks for this excellent review, lizardman. I meant to check this whole thing out.

    • Dagon

      The acoustic intro to the first track is beautiful.

    • Lacertilian

      It’s worth it dude.

    • Dagon

      “Lament. Shriek. Bleak. Die!”

      • Tyree
        • Bruh! That scene give me the shivers.

          • Tyree
          • YES!

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            God, that movie was so delightfully fucked up. I like the newer one better, simply for the insanity/gore factor.

            http://9e3k.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/thing005.gif

          • Tyree

            That new one can fuck off with its CGI bullshit.

          • KJM

            One of the few times in movie history where it can be argued that the remake was better than the original.

          • Tyree

            666% Agree.

          • Vote for Jeb

            The Carpenter film is just incredible.

          • Vote for Jeb

            Dude, that head jacked me up when I was a kid.

          • InfinityOfThoughts

            That fucking goddamn scene gave me nightmares for years

          • KJM

            Practical FX FTW.
            I saw the 1982 version every night during it’s initial run at Somerville Theater. I was only 15, they didn’t card me, and it only cost $1.50 each showing.

          • JamesGrimm

            Fuck you. lol

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            Nyeah! Haven’t seen the pre-Carpenter original, should probably put that in my never ending queue.

          • Tyree

            Just watch it. You won’t regret it.

          • KJM

            It’s a classic even though the characters are annoying. Many film geeks don’t like hearing that Carpenter did a better job with the source material than Howard Hawks did, can’t say I blame them.

          • JamesGrimm

            eehhhh…

          • sweetooth0

            I can’t possibly upvote this enough

          • sweetooth0

            no

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            Oh, siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!

        • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

          Is that from the newer The Thing?

          • Nope. The John Carpenter’s one.

          • KJM

            The Thing(1982)

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            Oh. It’s been ages since I’ve seen that one or read the book.

        • Dagon

          Wow! One of your finest gif finds.

    • tertius_decimus

      How do these work?

    • Scrimm

      AHHHHHH I HATE THAT SHIT!!! Just had severe flashbacks of the messes my kindergarteners would make.

  • Tyree

    Old men, showing that they can still absolutely crush it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXi6lFLvRw0

    • Stanley

      I was surprised when you mentioned they that they were good on the previous post as I assumed they would be showing their age. I like a a bit of Blood Feast. Is this the original vocalist? He sounds completely different from the dude on “Kill for Pleasure”.

      • Tyree

        Nah, it’s a different dude. New guys name is Chris Natalini. I talked to the bassist after the show and he was really nice and really appreciative of my compliments towards their set. Their drummer may have been the best drummer at that entire show. Dude just brought it hard. Put all the young drummers to shame.

        • Stanley

          Old guys rule! (Caveat: except when they don’t).

          • Tyree

            Oh! They played 2 new songs as well. Sooo, new album hopefully soon.

    • more beer

      I saw these guy`s more than a few times in 80`s. It is good to know they are still kicking ass. How was going to that brewery you were going to go to?

      • Tyree

        Ay, it was packed as fuck! It was labor day weekend obviously and there was a wedding reception outside plus the air show was happening. We managed to get a few seats at the bar after standing for an hour, but no brewery tour. We just has some good beers, had some relax time, and then went to the venue.

        • more beer

          Some time to just relax is always good especially with some good beers.

  • Dagon

    “The leads have that drenched-in-delay/reverb tone rather unique to surf guitar, which when married with the black metal note choices and phrasing, create a vibrant and often hallucinatory effect.”

    Gib plz. Spring reverbs tube reverbs bury me in my reverb.

    • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

      Not exactly unique to surf guitar, give how much delay/reverb shoegaze uses it. Often times to an extreme degree.

      • Dagon

        I think he meant unique probably bc the black metal tone is more surfy than shoegazey (precisely bc of what you said) and surf rock emerged earlier.

      • Lacertilian

        While not as well-versed on shoegaze as some around these parts, the bands I have heard in that genre typically don’t play many memorable lead passages. Often just using copious amounts of delay and letting the one note ring out.
        Gloam on the other hand play with haste and have the tone which I’ve found similar to those on the interesting Predatory Light and Volahn releases from this year. Similar to what @dagonthefishgod:disqus mentioned below.

  • Hubert

    This is good stuff, or in other words, goat stuff.

  • Stockhausen

    I’m sad that Bandcamp is blocked, because Lizard-approved usually means dead guy-approved.

    • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

      What happened to BC exactly? I rarely ever use it, but curious.

    • Lacertilian

      Didja get a chance to hear it after work?

      • Stockhausen

        Listening now (on my way back to work). This rules!

  • Stanley

    Gloam live in Oakland 7/14/15. Hail Santa Cruz Black Metal!

  • Read the review. Interesting.

    Listen the acoustic interlude. Sold.

    I’m on the merol side. You’re right about the guitar tone. But, I want more acoustic interludes!!

  • this gets me up