The Underground Sounds Of America: Cloak
It’s rare one finds music that scratches the itch for both eerie goth and driving speed metal, but Cloak manage to do both with flying shades of black. The Atlanta four-piece play music that has the headbanger stomp of black’n’roll while also draped in the necromantic gloom of old-school death rock. While Atlanta may be better known for its history with soul artists and dirty south rap overall, the band feel they’re upholding some of the city’s powerful musical traditions — while honoring others more in the breach.
“Atlanta always had a thriving punk and hardcore scene and I can say that was a huge influence on me and Scott [Taysom, guitars and vocals] coming up,” says drummer Sean Bruneau. “As a band, though, I think Atlanta has shaped or informed us in that we sought out to be the antithesis of what the metal scene in Atlanta was known for. Atlanta seems to be known for bands having a party attitude and an overly nonchalant attitude towards their music, image, and show. We couldn’t connect to that on any level, so we shaped ourselves after the bands we grew up worshiping, that took every ounce of their art very seriously and created a total package, that you didn’t just like but wanted to be a part of because it felt important.”
Cloak’s upcoming new album The Burning Dawn follows that path of intentionality. The songs thereon may be fast and loose at times, but they’re never sloppy or incidental; instead, the band counter their more traditional street metal elements with an epic, carefully-cultivated sound. Tracks like A Voice In The Night and Into The Storm are aggressive overall, but the layered vocals and blastbeats woven throughout add a sense of extreme metal’s palatial scope. Creating such a distillation wasn’t easy, but for Cloak, the final product made the entire process worthwhile.
“We worked so damn hard on this record, and we’re very proud of it,” says bassist Billy Robinson. “In my opinion, every song on this record is a step forward for us. It retains the core elements of what I think makes Cloak unique, but also pushes our sound into new territory. Honestly, I just hope that we made something that will connect with our fans, and maybe gain us some new ones. I can’t wait for people to hear it.”
Fiending for another dusky riff, we chased down Cloak to find out what feeds their sonic bloodlust.
1) Who would you say are Cloak’s five biggest music influences?
Scott Taysom, guitarist and vocalist: That’s impossible to say, but collectively we’ll always return to bands like Metallica, Dissection, Danzig, Fields Of The Nephilim, and Iron Maiden, just to name a few.
2) If you had to play a newcomer one Cloak song to introduce them to the band, what would it be and why?
Billy Robinson, bassist: Where No Light Shines. This song has everything that, to me, makes this band unique. It’s got pounding riffs, groovy rock‘n’roll beats, a dark atmosphere, and a snarling, shitty attitude.
3) What are you most passionate about outside of music?
Max Brigham, guitarist: The most common denominator between us all would likely be film. They have always been a big inspiration for the band. Everything from classic Universal and Hammer to more contemporary stuff. At this point, we make all of our music videos ourselves, so having film knowledge — thematically and production-wise — has been a huge help for us. Aside from cinema, I’m personally always reading. Books like House of Leaves by Danielewski and Valis by Philip K. Dick have been recent favorites.
4) How have Cloak most evolved since To Venomous Depths?
Sean Bruneau, drums: The more you play together the more you learn what works and what doesn’t. Through developing strengths and weaknesses we have honed in on what we do best, but in the process have taken chances and experimented. I think if a band doesn’t evolve, then they are dying. We want to make the best music we can and feel that limiting our song writing to a safe formula or what’s expected from the audience is artistic suicide.
5) In 2018, you released a single of your cover of the Misfits’ London Dungeon. It’s an interesting choice — why that song, instead of all the fast-and-loose Misfits out there?
ST: Simply because it’s one of our favorite Misfits songs, as it stood out from the rest. If you really listen to it, the sound is not far off from a song that Cloak would write.
Cloak’s The Burning Dawn comes out October 25 via Season Of Mist, and is available for preorder.
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