(Here’s Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Sweden’s Gloson.)
Don’t you love it/hate it (delete as appropriate) when a band comes along, seemingly out of nowhere, with a debut album so good you struggle to grasp how they’ve actually managed it?
Because that’s exactly what Swedish Post-Sludgebringers Gloson have done.
Grimen is an album with, for want of a better word, real presence. Something which makes it impossible to ignore, and impossible to forget.
Gargantuan guitars groan and shudder under the stress of their own prodigious power. Hulking bass-lines clank and heave like the sound of tectonic plates grinding inexorably together. Everything has an almost physical weight and texture to it that you can practically taste and touch.
Not only that but, although the influence of the (Un)Holy Trinity of Post-Metal – Neurosis, Isis, Cult of Luna – is certainly still writ large in the album’s DNA, Gloson’s take on the style often leans in a much doomier direction, aided and abetted by the prodigious, deathly growl of the band’s vocalist(s).
The opening pairing of “Prowler” and “Fabulist” are prime examples of this. At over eight and seven minutes in length, respectively, each track is a not-insignificant slab of churning riffs and bone-shaking bass, jarring squalls of abrasive dissonance and sombre, moody melody, and an ever-present shroud of dense, oppressive atmosphere which feels like the walls are closing in.
The latter in particular really goes all-in on the Death/Doom side of things, with the band seeming almost to stagger beneath the back-breaking burden of their own discordant designs.
Thick with menace, “Antlers” finds the band in a much more post-apocalyptic mood. Heavy with ominous ambience and a brewing sense of dread, it builds from a claustrophobic whisper to an earth-shaking crescendo, before the ten-and-a-half minute centre-piece of “Cringe” adds an extra touch of bleak, gloomy melody – reminiscent, in the best possible way, of classic Katatonia – to the mix, to offset and accentuate the doom-laden march of the song’s colossal riffs and glowering, guttural vocals.
On any other album the stripped-down minimalism of “Specter” would provide a welcome breather, a break in the clouds, and a moment to relax and take stock, but here the song’s haunting acoustic strains serve only to lull you into a false sense of security before another short, sharp blast of raw, raging emotion explodes out of nowhere, priming you for the titanic assault upon the senses that is the album’s climactic, multi-faceted finale, “Embodiment”.
There’s just something about this music, something so uniquely dynamic and utterly overpowering, that I find myself irresistibly drawn to it again and again, as if it has its own inescapable gravity.
Which, as truly massive as it sounds, it might as well do.
Mark my words, although it’s only February, I think I’ve already found one of my albums of the year.
Grimen will be released by Art of Propaganda on February 13.