Gloson - Grimen - (8/10)
Published on January 15, 2017
Although the word ‘atmosphere’ carries with it a notion of stillness or tranquility, the subgenre of atmospheric sludge metal is one very much infused with the opposite effect. Yes, moments of stark melody and subtle reflection are peppered about, but the bulk of the music is generally and unavoidably dense, huge, and disquieting. Bands like Neurosis, Cult of Luna, A Storm of Light, and slightly newer acts like Sumac or Sealclubber all play some semblance of this style, each adding their own progressive touch. Known to ‘boar’ as much as it’s been known to stun, the atmo-sludge brand, when done correctly, has the capacity to enthrall like few other subgenres.
After dropping an EP and a live album a few years back, Sweden’s Gloson are poised to release their full-length debut in Grimen, a six-track thunder storm of grumbling and rumbling mood-charged heaviness. The quintet, which includes three guitarists, have created a somber and huge-sounding record, one filled with monolithic riffs, tribal drumming, omnipresent bass, and a broad vocal attack. It’s about power here, courtesy of both emotion and concussive assault, and the band’s penchant and willingness to step down darker corridors is quite palpable.
To no one’s great surprise, the songs on Grimen aren’t short. Tracks span between four and 11 minutes, with the average landing somewhere around eight or so. In this day and age, lofty song lengths are the bee’s knees when it comes to doom and its various offshoots, so getting cozy with this album, and others like it, is more or less a necessity. It’s not quite gym music, and not exactly background fare, either, yet there’s an alluring intensity here that seems to straddle the lines of both.
The opener “Prowler” introduces the listener to one of the album’s more menacing and hypnotic tracks, heaving and buzzing and working off cyclical riff patterns that go hand-in-craggy hand with power drumming and a vocal assault that tows the death metal seabed. As mentioned, Gloson utilize emotion and atmosphere as a catalyst, incorporating slower, more methodical moments into constricting efforts like “Antlers” and “Specter,” a song aided by the distinction of clean vocals and gentle, harmonious string-work. The nearly instrumental closer “Embodiment,” similar to “Cringe,” hears the band dabbling with post-metal dynamics, airy guitars and snappy rhythms and what not, and concludes the album on a pleasant note, rather unlike the album’s harsher, less congenial starting point. Still, there’s a single cohesive line that keeps it all in balance, and the lasting impact and grave professionalism of Grimen makes for a rewarding experience.
Progressive, atmospheric, hammering—a few words to describe the debut of these patient Swedes, a band who have managed to successfully decode the finicky sludge-doom Enigma machine.
Addendum: the name Gloson stems from Nordic folklore and refers to a great pig or boar, possibly a remnant of Frey’s boar Gullinburste, which had glowing eyes and razor sharp bristles and was occasionally ridden by a person with a red cap. The sow was believed to live in cemeteries and it ran between the legs of the people, scratching them in the process. Additionally, Grimen roughly translates to halter, which is ‘a rope or strap with a noose or headstall placed around the head of a horse or other animal, used for leading or tethering it.’