The New York City-area post-industrial/ doomgaze project Gloomseeker captures a portrait of the insurmountable unrest of the expanse — however one might like to consider that concept — on their jarringly compelling new album The Violet Grim. The project utilizes lushly textured yet shivering atmospherics, and its rhythms feel wracked with ache — as though, at times, the songs themselves are weeping.
Below, check out a Q and A with Gloomseeker about The Violet Grim! First, check out a review:
Dramatically somber percussion figures prominently across The Violet Grim, and the album thereby ends up feeling like a morbid processional. Often, Gloomseeker sticks to a meditative pace, strengthening the sense of a gripping personal confrontation with the looming void. Imagining the album’s world as something like a sparsely attended funeral service unfolding in the steady rain seems on point — the first track, after all, is titled “Resonance of Death On a Friday Afternoon.” The vocals sound distant, on par with the expansive singing in projects like Have A Nice Life, and this quiet breadth amplifies the sense of sitting alone in a downpour adjacent to what is set to become a graveyard.
The Violet Grim adeptly captures a sense of nearly all-encompassing emptiness. In a rather literal sense, that feeling is there thanks to the resounding yet strikingly overcast-sounding percussion, which is formidable but not particularly heavy in the physical sense, leaving space for uneasy atmosphere. More broadly, the songs sound mournful, evoking the feeling of going through the steps of some kind of (literal or metaphorical) ceremony once the spirit of the event has vanished.
In a whimsically inclined sense, the listening experience of The Violet Grim suggests a royal court where many have fallen, leaving those still alive to complete their routines with the inescapable reminder of the breadth of what has been lost. Alternatively, this latest Gloomseeker effort could be conceptualized as a contemplation of empty chairs left behind by deceased loved ones.
The Violet Grim comes with a thick fog of atmosphere, and when the tempo noticeably eases up — like on parts of “Same Ol’ Doom” — the trek feels like slowly sinking through a shadowy pit while caught in despair and unable to shift while falling below. Among other elements in the album’s shifting sea — like the dramatic turns on “I am the Great Impostor” and “The Inevitable Drowning of Morena” alongside the ambiance that drives album closer “My Body is a Burden,” Gloomseeker’s subtly hypnotic, rhythmic repetition combined with the shifting tones across The Violet Grim make the record feel like a morbid reverie, as though finding moments of stillness within the certitude of the fog of demise.
Check out Gloomseeker on Bandcamp at this link.
Listen to The Violet Grim below!
Check out the full Q and A with Gloomseeker below!
Captured Howls: Thanks for your time! The Violet Grim is compelling and deals with some intense themes. How would you describe the overall emotional journey of the album, if something comes to mind? For instance, would you say that there is some catharsis in there?
Gloomseeker: Thank you for your time as well.
The premise of the album is something that everyone including myself (once) struggles with: The fear of death and our mental inability to deal with such unavoidable truth. I began to think about the subject a bit deeper over the years dealing with my own depression and eventually came to a realization that the fear is unfounded and completely detached from natural principles and at the same time amplified by modern/societal dogma and conditioning. I wanted to explore this through music and end up with something relatable.
CH: On a broad level, are there particular themes that come to mind that guided the construction of the instrumentals for this record? For instance — did you aim to tie the sounds themselves to the emotional themes explored in the lyrics?
G: I set out to create melodies that closely resembled whatever emotional turmoil I was experiencing during that time. At times I would start with lyrics that were created while not actively writing any music at all; almost as an internal dialogue of some sort. I would then use that as a catalyst to write the melodies to further expand upon the lyrics with sound. I also ended up writing many of the instrumentals first. This is what always fascinated me about music; you can start with building the roof without having the walls and/or foundation first. You can always plug your being into whatever part you see fit at that time. I never really have a formula for this sort of stuff.
Inspirations for the Trek
CH: The album seems a bit extra accessible, perhaps, because of the comparatively shorter song lengths. Did the eventual listening experience weigh on your creation of these tracks?
G: I did not set out to make an album of particular length when writing The Violet Grim. If I felt that a particular track has been exhausted in what I set out for it to portray then it was time to stop and move on to the next one. Eventually it almost happened naturally due to some sort of an internal clock while writing music. On the other hand I wanted to cut down on the length of the tracks from the first album so they are more accessible in a live setting. Through my past live shows I realized that I prefer things more to the point as opposed to songs that are drawn out more than is necessary. I guess this is what I also prefer when I am part of the audience as a listener.
CH: So, as for the themes — I saw the note on Bandcamp that lyrics were influenced by traditional Slavic poetry, and I can see at least a couple points where this seems to shine through. On a similar note, having followed you on Instagram for awhile, I know that you spent some time in Europe not too long ago, if I remember correctly. Are there particular revelations that come to mind that you’ve had while exploring these terrains?
G: I was born in Eastern Europe, Slovakia to be exact, and moved to the US in my teenage years. I grew up around a lot of deep traditions that were passed down from my grandparents. Some of these were cemented in poems, songs and folk customs as they once knew them.
When I started to look a bit deeper into these I realized that there was a recurring theme present. It was how they viewed life and death through a completely natural lens and seasonal cycles. They knew that just as seasons are reborn over and over every year so are we, as we are also part of nature and not excluded from these events. They understood deeply that the idea of reincarnation is grounded in reality as evident in nature and that death was just a vehicle through which one had the opportunity to connect to eternity; thus being always reborn. In the end there has always been a natural pull for me to stay connected to these traditions and traveling (back home) enables me to do that further.
CH: Towards the end of the album, some of the vocals reminded me of Have a Nice Life, although that’s obviously a sometimes widely applicable reference. Still — are there particular artists or artistic traditions who inspired you in some way in connection to the development of this album, even if there’s not a one-to-one relationship between their work and your music?
G: I love music deeply so naturally there have been many influences over the years that have shaped my writing style and what I enjoy musically. I am definitely a fan of the earlier Voids and Deathconsciousness Have a Nice Life era. Ulver has also been very influential due to its varied styles throughout the years. I mean I can go as deep as Bon Iver for sure! My style has pretty much been shaped by traditional folk, industrial, death/black metal music. In the end I wanted to create something that I couldn’t find out there anymore but really wanted to listen to.
CH: Gloomseeker seems to still be somewhat on the newer side — although time seems pretty relative sometimes. How did you really get connected to this kind of ambient/ noise/ avant-garde music in the first place? What was your avenue into these styles?
G: I think the whole connection was essentially formed by my entire journey through music and its different styles as a whole throughout the years. I have always considered myself an eternal student of it. In my younger days I was primarily drawn to metal – black, death, speed; all of it along with a lot of electronic music and traditional European folk music. I was also involved in a couple of metal projects just for fun as I am a guitarist by trade. Later on I expanded into industrial and ambient and through all of that came Gloomseeker. Who knows what the next Gloomseeker will sound like but I know that I always like to grow as a musician and so does my style.
Thank you again!