Written by Mass
Gloom – Awaken
Gothic Metal from Slovakia
Released April 8th, 2020
Highlights: Hollow – Lovecry – Epilogue – Noose – Bleed in My Arms
All the Love We Never Got
The twenty-year-old Gothic band from Slovakia, Gloom, has recently published their third studio album titled Awaken. I certainly hope that with this album, they begin to awaken their artistic instincts and produce more music in the future. It is true that gothic music has long passed its 80s and 90s prime, and been largely replaced by similar genres of symphonic rock or symphonic metal, bands like Gloom still capture the essence of this dramatically melancholic and lovelorn style and keep the candle lit in this darkness.
Awaken encompasses the melodramatic and sentimental nature of the gothic mood and augments it by some rich, skillful and touching music. Add to that some sound effects and field recordings, like the chiming of the distant bells and the cawing of crows and hum of the wind at the end of Epilogue, and some orchestration and choir, like the opening choir and string melodies of Lovecry, to get the perfect mixture. What’s more, most of the songs have keyboards at their very core, whether fast-paced (Hollow) or mellow and more affectionate (Fragments of Life), and they incite gloomy, and from time to time pining and brooding, emotions.
The musicians have done an impressive job on this album. Radoslav Priputen on the drums knows how to provide the necessary foundation for other instruments rather than wrestle its way to the top at every moment. The same goes for Igor Tinák on guitars. The riffs he brings to the table are modest and apt and except for a few guitar solos that he performs quite well, such as the ones on Noose or Hollow, he remains a fitting piece within this puzzle. As it happens, the acoustic guitar finds its place in this fabric and even has moments to surface out and grab attention (like the outro on Broken). Just as fine as the guitarwork is the bass in the hands of Miroslav Maľcovský. It is present whenever necessary and secondary whenever appropriate. Feel the Pain can bring the bass into limelight as there is, much to my surprise, a sort of bass solo in the mix. But maybe the song that brings the band’s music to fruition is Bleed in My Arms, a cover track originally written and performed by the Finnish band Sentenced, opening their 2000 album Crimson. All the band’s best efforts pay off here: the piano is superlative, the riff is catchy, the solo is emotive, the drums are solid, the bass is substantial, and the vocals are expressive.
Speaking of vocals, Martin Pazdera carries most of the vocal duties on Awaken and he is immensely influenced by the early goth singing style of late Peter Steel (Type O Negative) or Jyrki 69 (69 Eyes), to name a few. It is of course an advantage as maybe there is no other genre within which this singing style would be more fit. Pazdera is not alone in his endeavor as great assistance comes from Marcela Jurčenková who appears nominally as a guest vocalist but adds so much to this album that she is as essential to its final sound as is every other musical element. The chemistry between the two singers is strongest on Lovecry. The duo sings in perfect harmony in chorus section and Jurčenková’s opening vocalization reflects the subtle and deathly atmosphere of this track.
The artwork of this album is created by Miroslava Hrabušová, representing a spectral figure of a lady surrounded with leaves in a mist. This depiction reflects the spirit of the band and the genre, which is the prominent melancholy and coldness, as the grey and blue hues cover the entirety of this artwork.
Overall, Awaken is an underrated, must-have goth record of 2020. From cover art to all aspects of its sound, it offers quality music for the broken-hearted. It is in fact head and shoulders above many, more renowned goth/symphonic albums of this year. You may not actually expect much from a Slovakian band, but the truth is, Gloom is one to take into serious consideration for fans of this particular class.
- Lyrics: 7.5
- Artwork: 9.0
- Musicianship: 8.0
- Vocals: 8.0
- Overall: 8.1