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Gloaming – Keep Close The Watchfires

Keep Close The Watchfires
by Charlotte ''Downright Destructive'' Lamontagne at 05 September 2015, 2:15 AM

 From the depths of a misty, dark forest, creeps up the fuzzy and weighing hell you were yearning for. Atmospheric, but mostly filthy, GLOAMING aim to carry on in the footsteps of their idols, leading with an old-school doom metal. Thick in tone, the persistent metallic resonance seems to best describe the sharp essence behind the bands first record, ''Keep Close the Watchfires'', but it is this same contrast between weighing and stinging which wondrously builds the wicked aura. If the tempo suggests a groovy influence ensuing from the Stoner wave, the riffing is tight and cutthroat. Relentless and consistent, the slow and heavy vibrations hypnotize you, on and on, through elongated tunes.

It may be a trick as old as the world itself, but the logic in which the Maryland quartet engaged themselves surely is effective. The song cycle, I believe, has been analyzed and calculated by the band very precisely. Always favoring an intensification, or a certain build up, every piece begins on the same emotion and vigor the predecessor ended with, therefore creating a history from track to track. Forging a jumble of different sentiments towards the end of it all, the ambiance exuding from the record becomes the band's own product, it's signature. While it is adorned with jerky, frantic sections, ''Keep Close the Watchfires'' only accumulates energy from time to time, for an occasional surprise burst out of the dominant slow and filthy spirit. Inclined towards ambiance and aesthetics, the dismal record recreates a strong and durable feeling of impurity and, with the accretion piled up from tune to tune, notably ends up with a harsh flavor to it.

Gravitating around flayed, anxious growls and a steady, solid drum, the slamming bass introduces a particular tone, distinct from the usual round and profound. As of signature, a multicolored, experimenting guitar comes to life. Through the thick and solid layers supporting it, the tone may not be quite on the verge of psychedelic, but the present nuances open new doors to unfamiliar influences, expanding the realm a bit closer to Stoner and Acid metal, for its trippy sound. Polished by a strongly constructed balance of sounds, every instrument fully expresses its ideas and thoughts through melody and rhythm, truly playing in union and harmony, leaving enough space to leads without ever having to fade away.

With the first track kicking off, GLOAMING's work seemed promising and captivating but, as the doom culture promises, heaviness and repetition took much place into the bands compositions. Now, as there were variations and definitely much detail in the overall sound, the structures and their partitions came off as easy and constant. In general, the low chords are constructed by a few quarter notes and mutes, frequently ended by sustained finger-lifted half notes. Although the idea is fidel to the doom tradition (and too common, may I add), this particular type of riffing really looses its interest after being used and abused during every seven songs. Not that it takes its toll on your eardrums, the smooth and agitated blend is great, but it bores your mind. This signature riff takes away the creative credit GLOAMING had build up with the numerous efforts given in the creation of a unique sound, for example.

The straight-to-the-face wailing and tempo changes make up for the structure repetition, but the several psychedelic bridges, mad shreds and drum rolls really frame the memorable moments of the record, occasionally shifting it in new directions. Tunes like ''Black Aggie'', with the harsh and mean fragments towards the end are a good add to the record, propelling it to higher states. ''Ilchester'', with its bluesier touches and rhythm transitions also contributes into making the record stand out, while ''The Nightmare of Braddock Heights'' can be overly repetitive and the introduction riff to ''Goat-man'' basically sounds like a rip-off of the verse riff to hit song ''Bury Me In Smoke'' from Southern 90s band DOWN. This said, through the overall punishing storm, ''The Great Dismal Swamp'', clocking at 5:16 minutes, truly is the one who fully commits to the strange, intriguing aura. Perfectly bringing the album towards its own end, the piece builds up in a down tuned, metallic universe. Out of the blue, a luminous, slow guitar pierces its way through, shining light on a dark, disturbing piece. Introduced by a dusty organ, the gates of limbs open themselves to you, and plunge you into the nightmare. Reverberated, no real structure guides the track, as solos feel improvised and oriented towards expression and discovery, rather than recipe. One of a kind, it permits the record to change its persona for a while and, through not-as-heavy, but fully consistent instrumentals, the intensity rises. Back to the alarming, anxious organ, the song ends with a buzzing effect, trippy and non conventional to the rest of the world, them non doomers.

Sludgy impending tones and heavy vibes reflect most out the overall work GLOAMING has put into their debut record. In an optic of witch folklore and foggy forests, the Doom oriented quartet shift towards an ambiance built on solid foundations and tough attitudes. To the center of it all lies the distorted tone, worked up in an authentic, fuzzy way. If creativity sometimes lacks through the persistent riffing and structure, ''Keep Close the Watchfires'' still stands as a listen with many feelings to offer. Headbanging riffs, dizzy solos, driven percussion, down tuned lust, bitter growls, poundings and grimy thoughts combined, all for a sinister, mean, dirty atmosphere.

3 Star Rating

 1. The Nightmare of Braddock Heights
2. Goat-Man
3. Curse of the Frozen Witch
4. Black Aggie
5. Ilchester
6. The Great Dismal Swamp
7. Dwayyo
R.B. – Vocals
J.C. – Guitar
J.K. – Bass
A.H. – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 02 December 2022

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