Vinyl resurrection: Gloam mash mesmerizing black metal into its madness with ‘Hex of Nine Heads’

gloamI hate when I miss out on a really great record. It feels unforgivable that someone in my position, with access to just about every metal record issued within a given year, can have something fly so far below my radar, that I don’t pick up on it until much later. Perhaps those are the breaks for having so much content for one person to consume.

Well, with the second day of our look at albums getting new life on vinyl, I can make good on totally missing out on “Hex of Nine Heads,” the hulking, massive first release from black metal crushers Gloam. I’m probably not alone in being behind on this album, as this was limited to 175 cassettes by Caligari Records, but Gilead Media is giving it the presentation it so richly deserves on this double LP pressing. In the press notes for this record, Gilead points out that their game typically isn’t to put out a double-LP version of a record put out on another label, but the power of this thing was just too great to resist. And that’s definitely a wise call. While we hold nothing against the cassette format (I’m listening to one right now!), having this out on vinyl is best for business, as it can truly present the massive power and hypnotic prowess this band, and these songs, possess. This album was pretty much born for this format.

gloam-coverGloam have been doing their thing and entrancing minds for the past six years now, with “Hex,” their first full-length presentation, originally released in 2015. You’re not going to find many debut records this weighted, fully realized, and intricately layered as “Hex,” as the album sounds like the culmination of a bunch of stepping-stone albums to get to this point. So, in fewer words, it’s incredibly impressive. The band—guitarist/vocalist Colby Metzger, guitarist David Uttal-Veroff (also of Jex Thoth), bassist Shane Terry, and drummer Fynn Jones—had but a demo and EP to their name before unleashing “Hex.” The record contains challenging, dense, and captivating epics that trudge and suffocate you with thick layers, and the eight track, 62-minute album might be more easily digested in portions. Not that we recommend that. The journey is the way. But if you’re overwhelmed, you can do bits. You’ll be just as devastated when it’s over.

The “Intro” cut leads you into the void, with harsh winds, ominous guitar tones, and a frosty, snowy ambiance setting the stage and leading you into 14:15 smasher “Where Freezing Winds Forever Blow,” a song that will make you go the distance. The first few minutes feel snow blind, as you reach your way through the outside with nothing but your senses to lead the way. Harsh growls sprawl while the song drubs and grinds in a slow-driving storm. The pace eventually picks up, with the leads burning and the tempo caving your chest cavity. The assault is monstrous, as the gas pedal is slammed to the floor, the soot drips in sheets, and chaos mars the final moments, leading you into a frenzy. “Torrents of Blood” erupts and mars the senses anew, as weird progressions play tricks on you, gruff growls salt wounds, and the guitars spiral out of control. The band presses on, heading a pocket of weirdness and doom-infested winds that help the song bleed out slowly. “Execration Trance” has an atmospheric open before it toughens up with harsh vocals and panic. Dissonant melodies muddy the waters while the riffs crush, the intensity mocks, and the thick humidity fades along with maniacal laughs that seem directed at you.

“The Spectral Wound” gets to you early, as the drums mess with you and leave you thrashed, while the bands heads into a proggy fog and psyche-bent guitar work. The edges of this thing are coated in terror, always leaving you wondering if you’re safe, a feeling that remains with you all the way up to when the track dissolves in noise. “Corporeal Torment” blasts open, landing heavy blows and unleashing harsh shrieks that sicken the soul. The pace stabs and steamrolls, as sounds simmer and growls spread menace. The pace adds a stormy element, one that leaves you with little control of your body, and the track rips ahead unmercifully before wrapping up in a freezing demolition. The 12:36 title cut then enters, as is slowly trickles open, unfurling in the manner it sees fit. That means you’re sitting nervously as the song reveals its hand, which is does with gut-wrenching growls, chilly guitars that bring with it fog, and a bloody pace that pulls you along the cinders in a calculating scrape. Guitars cut through and the song speeds up, but then a thick banner of darkness falls, as black waves crash down upon themselves, and the cut ends in a pained grunt and an oncoming shower. “Outro” allows that rain to pool to dangerous levels, as an acoustic guitar is picked amid a storm that shows no hint of relenting and could lead to everything you know being washed away into darkness.

Hopefully with “Hex of Nine Heads” finally pressed to vinyl with the steady hands of Gilead Media guiding it, more people will have their own awakenings with this cataclysmic record. This is a stunning first effort and surely just the beginning point for what could be one of the most important underground black metal bands over the next half decade or so. The seeds were planted here, and the fact the record’s reach is growing should satisfy and terrify us all. Who knows what’s next?

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