Hailing from Indiana, Cloakroom released their debut album, Further Out in 2015. Their sonic blend encompassing, elements from shoegaze and indie rock was presented under a thick, heavy veil of riffs and powerful playing. Now they return with their sophomore record, Time Well, coming out of Relapse, a label which lately is also moving harder into this territory, as the release of the latest Nothing album, Tired of Tomorrow, suggests.
The highlight here is the weight of the album, with Cloakroom making everything appear augmented and heavy, even in the clean guitar parts. The one element that contradicts the weight of the album is the vocals, with a delivery that is softer and being mixed a bit further down in the mix. This is done very nicely as it makes the vocals part of the music, instead of separating them as an over the top element.
Label: Relapse Records
The pacing of the record aids in this heavy manifestation, with the band essentially playing in one speed. However, this one-dimensional progression style boosts the more pessimistic and sorrowful tone, and what makes it more exciting is just the power the rhythm section showcases, especially coming from the drums. On the other end, the distortion and fuzz applied to the record is where the band reveals a few different forms. There are moments when the heavy guitars suggest a heavy post-metal form, even verging towards sludge, coupled with melodic elements between the riffs, and at other times the fuzz becomes all-encompassing, pointing towards the shoegaze aesthetic. This shifts the tone from the earthy perspectives brought by the heavy, chugging riffs, to a more dreamlike state, where the ethereal quality unfolds, as in “Big World.”
The perspective and atmosphere that Time Well presents has gathered quite a few elements from slowcore, especially its mournful delivery and emotional effect. The clean parts of the record show this effect in better light, as is the case with the brilliant “Sickle Moon Blues.” Even though they do not totally embrace this style, going into complete Low mode, there is an arc in the album, starting with “Sickle Moon Blues” and ending with “Time Well,” where the expanded instrumentation and the inclusion of the acoustic guitar display a kinship to the scene.
Despite the weight and distortion, and the length of most of the tracks, Cloakroom craft a record that is easily accessible, and remains pleasant and – dare I say – catchy throughout. It is a strange mix that they have been able to balance, since bands with shoegaze and slowcore aspects generally will not implement this type of almost metallic distortion and weight. It works great in the end, making Time Well a heavy, emotional and grand offering.