Gloosh – Timewheel Review

One man atmospheric black metal projects. You know ’em. You love ’em (or you love to hate ’em). They’re everywhere. Precious few manage to make it into the annals of great acts, but there are notable ones such as Mare Cognitum and Aquilus whose output have made diehard fans out of me. Newcomers have it pretty rough now that those two, among several others, have set the bar as high as they have. Russian multi-instrumentalist George “Foltath” Gabrielyan stands bravely in front of that bar with his atmoblack project Gloosh (a transliteration of the Russian word for “wilderness,” “Глушь”), determined to bring the genre to the next level with debut album Timewheel. The big question: Gloosh—sploosh or whoosh?

What Gloosh offers listeners who are familiar with atmospheric black metal is familiarity. There are no surprises here, but the sonic profile is slightly different compared to the frigid flavors of Mare Cognitum and the like. Timewheel feels more akin to Oubliette, with warm tones and melodies sourced from the overgrown forest floor. And, like much of the early black metal scene, blast beats reign supreme and repetition is king. Production just raw enough to recall the classics in the genre, but with enough dynamics and clarity to feel accessible. On paper, this should equate to a decent record that’s worth using as the soundtrack to an early morning hike through verdant trails during the heart of the Fall season.

Alas, Timewheel instead provides a lackluster experience that falls short of its aspirations. Opener “Vjkhr” seems to set a strong first impression, with an immediately memorable lead and buttery-smooth transitions. Vocals are standard for the style but complement the environs well. The only thing holding it back from greatness is relentless worship of the unholy blast beat. Follow-up “Timewheel” feels like a revelation simply because it does not feature blast beats initially, though they do return in short order. Again, enjoyable melodies sail along smooth waters, but here little evolution takes place and my immersion suffers as a result. And so on until closer “Mokh,” Gloosh denies me the iridescent songwriting I require to steal myself away from this corporeal realm. Once I finally get to “Mokh,” however, everything takes shape. Doomy and dynamic, the closing track does everything right that all the others trip over by gracefully easing in and out of stanzas without letting any overstay their relative welcomes, although the blasting remains too prevalent still.

Even when we dive into the nitty-gritty, Timewheel fails to live up to scrutiny. Some details—like the beautiful acoustic outro in “Timewheel” and a super cool lead and clean-singing combo in “Groza”—work wonderfully, both in context with the compositions ‘fore and aft and in terms of musical fortitude. Yet, other details like certain bass drum patterns and the extended instrumental dalliances become more and more distracting as time spent with the record accumulates. The former is especially vexing because, occasionally, several syncopated bass drum triggers feel like misfires rather than purposeful re-imaginations of typical patterns, which is disorienting. The placement of extended instrumental sections that feature in almost all entries further compounds this sense of imbalance. Without much in the way of telegraphing, instrumental phrases will return without vocal accompaniment. From there most songs amble along their established trajectories unsupported for an inordinate amount of time, which leaves me wondering where the vocalist went instead of excitedly awaiting the destination of this unexpected detour. If Gloosh packed more excitement into those instrumental stretches, the choice to minimize vocal involvement might have set the debut apart more positively.

Therein lies my frustration with Timewheel. An overly strict application of a singular formula buries sparkling moments of effervescence instead of nourishing them. If the dynamic songwriting in the closer was more widely used in conjunction with the strong melodies of the opener and the scattered acoustic reprieves, this debut would have been worthy of its competition. Sadly, what Gloosh delivered was all whoosh, no sploosh. Keep trying, though, George! You have the elements you need to pull out one hell of an atmospheric black metal opus with album two.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Release
Websites: gloosh.bandcamp.com/releases | facebook.com/atmogloosh
Releases Worldwide: February 29th, 2020

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