As the long awaited follow on from Homecoming, The Gloom In The Corner have today released Flesh & Bones. For the Melbourne band, story is what their music revolves around, and Flesh & Bones is both a reveal of new music as well as a new chapter of the story.
Through Homecoming and Fear Me, there has been an ongoing connective thread of loss. The main character to date has been Julian ‘Jay’ Oscar Hardy, who lost his girlfriend Rachel Barker. As well as Rachel’s death impacting Jay directly, people around Jay, both personally and professionally, have been drawn into the tragedy and its associated actions. Suspicion and paranoia have been part of attempts to answer the question hanging over the story: Who killed Rachel?
After Rachel’s death, Jay succumbed to a supernatural disease which left him compromised in a ‘Gloom’ state while life continued around him. In the meantime, his brother Ethan decides to sacrifice his life to try and pull Jay out of his Gloom state, using his death to meet with Rachel and attempt to bring her back.
With the singles released since Homecoming, we have begun to get to know about Sherlock Bones and his involvements. Though he is a new character to the story, Sherlock was (namelessly) present alongside Jay in the Fear Me era: Sherlock’s penchant for violence assisted the Gloom version of Jay, committing murders in an attempt to avenge Rachel.
If you’ve understood that? Good. If not, it’s okay, it’ll make sense in time! And now onto the music, and the new chapter for The Gloom In The Corner…
“Las Plagas de la mente, yo soy a quien temes”
“Misanthropic” is where Flesh & Bones begins, and it’s fittingly skin-crawling. There’s a vibrance to the track that has it come across as a theatrical style celebration of the grandest and greatest bad guy the world has ever seen, while also being an aggressive and heavy song. Music box chimes and voice manipulations (complete with villainous laughter, of course) create something impressively horrifying within the opening seconds, immediately landing a nightmare in listeners’ laps.
The swaggering track sets a scene for the story as it unfolds. Fat riffs arrive akin to the rolling out of a red carpet. Only in Sherlock’s case, the carpet is probably black and blood stained, while he struts his stuff to a soundtrack of screams. Hectic and dark, the song is perfectly fitting for presenting the villainous lad who’s seemingly had his fangs deep in this story for some time.
It’s surprisingly a good time of a song, with The Gloom In The Corner going impressively instrumentally hard at it on all fronts. We’re given insight into Sherlock’s life to this point, and he has a lot to say, including letting slip that HE was responsible for Rachel’s death! Gang vocals and schoolyard chant-esque lyrical moments add a sense of playfulness and nonchalance to the murderous vibe being shared. Sonically, it’s tough to sum up, where instrumental acrobatics exist as well as gutter scraping and slamming lowness.
Second track “Peace” is a distinct mood shift, showing a more thoughtful side to Sherlock in contrast to his swaggering one man carnival of carnage in “Misanthropic”. The introduction’s voiceover (which marks the fact we’re at a funeral) is the only element of theatricism that “Peace” seems to hold.
Without wanting to repeat myself (as I wrote about “Peace” in detail when it released as a single), the beautiful song takes us to Ethan’s funeral, and shows us Sherlock’s thought processes while he’s present. It’s clearly a different side of him than we just saw, and the full and moving song shows a sense of remorse you wouldn’t expect. A feature from Loathe‘s Kadeem France is a gritty and explosive response from Ethan, adding further density to the sad and heavy hearted track.
Following with the second track of the EP which includes a vocal feature, “Survivor’s Guilt” features Dylan Torre of Weeping Wound. The feature hangs heavy into the bowels of self-hate and regret, tying into the continuing story (did you notice that both features include lyrical nods to the respective band names?!). “Survivor’s Guilt” is further development of Sherlock’s character, and feels intense and chaotic, with a state of alarm at the song’s breakdown.
“Survivor’s Guilt” is a conversation between Sherlock and Clara Carne, a character who was also present in the Fear Me era. She was one of the survivor’s of the attack featured in “Oxymoron”. She’s also The Queen Of Misanthrophy that we learned about in “Villain”. Continuing to show a human perspective of our megavillain, Sherlock opens up to Clara, relevant to the emotional aftermath of the funeral. He questions his actions and how his own death would have been preferable over those he’d killed. Sung vocals and searching guitar fit the softer side of Sherlock, as do the screams and uneasy breakdowns suit the weight of how bad he feels.
The track’s presence as third on the EP suits the unfolding story and a gradual humanising of Sherlock, or at least a softening. Though I’d originally wondered why “Villain” was left off the EP, it makes clearer sense to me now due to how Flesh & Bones is seeming to be Sherlock’s story, where “Villain” was Clara’s perspective.
“Bleed You Out” confused the heck out of me in terms of the story at first, where our softer and more sensitive and remorseful villain was seemingly back at it again (“I’m not here to save you, I’m here to put you down like the fucking bitch you are”). Upon closer inspection, what’s happening is something of a teaming up with Clara. Her deceased father and his “improper burial” has led to a series of murders at the hand of his ghostly self, resulting in Clara and Sherlock taking him on together.
Sonically there is a LOT going on in “Bleed You Out”; aggression and intensity, wild and chaotic instrumentation, raw vocals and slamming beats. I’m amusingly reminded of Stray From The Path‘s “Goodnight Alt-Right” with the “You just got bled the fuck out” lyric due to how it’s said, which is just a fleeting attention grabber while this wild ride ensues. A synthy melody and dissonance inches us toward the confrontation, where Clara then sets fire to her father’s bones. Of course there’s a last word as he fades, and a punchy/bouncy beat leads us towards the point of victory: A ridiculous staticky, growling breakdown ending, reflecting the sealing of the deal. Murder never sounded so good.
Upon my initial listen to Flesh & Bones for review, I took in the final three songs of the EP together, mostly because of expecting that they were tied together, story-wise. I’m very glad I did it this way, as therein lay the twist I never saw coming. “Deer Hunter” has Sherlock tasked with eliminating everyone he has contact with outside of Section 13 (the government agency he is a part of, as is Jay), and “D.I.M.A” and “Can’t Reach The Sun” are the aftermath of this action.
Clara isn’t part of Section 13, so despite the romantic bond that Sherlock has with her, he is forced to kill her, because “I’m a slave to everything they ever said”. After the song’s sombre and sedate start, the conflict is demonstrated uncomfortably via guitar that moves side to side before a downward slide. Measured conflict amps up into fear drenched confrontation, where Clara is warned of what’s coming.
Musically, The Gloom In The Corner have presented this as a well-crafted “I can’t believe this is happening” out of body vibe, where piercing guitar lines and backing vocals seem disconnected from the tense vocal conversation. It’s dense and dark, and reeks of finality when Sherlock takes out his former friends, having to push himself into these well-worn shoes of villainry that don’t necessarily fit right anymore.
This gradually bleeds into something cleaner and open, where despite committing to what he’s been tasked, the heaviness of what’s ahead and his conflict with it is palpable. It’s moving, and bound to inspire empathy, which is kind of funny considering where we began in terms of a perspective of Sherlock. If you can look beyond the story for a moment, “Deer Hunter” is one hell of a showcase of all the many varied places that The Gloom In The Corner can take their sound and land comfortably.
When the internal debate and justification come to an end, Sherlock takes Clara’s life. Though it’s done, he’s not happy, and a conversation between him and Jay (still seeming to be overcome by Gloom) reveals something important: He knows that Sherlock killed his girlfriend Rachel, and therefore had a hand in forcing Clara’s demise…
“For once, I don’t take any pleasure in this definite end”
“D.I.M.A.” (“Die In My Arms”) is Jay’s turn to speak, where dreams and states of unconsciousness have been his existence for some time. His moments of connection with Rachel haunt him, and the storytelling of the two of them dancing around the fire match a waltzing yet intensely burdened sound we’re hearing. Again, taking in a lilting melodic chorus, I’m impressed by how this band are seemingly easily operating so fluidly around an everchanging story and its moods. Whether stuttering and tense or free flowingly dreamy, The Gloom In The Corner nail it.
The return to the chorus, as well as the gradual growing of frustration, is spot on for a life lived in a loop of fantasy and inevitable sadness. Round and round Jay goes. He tells of reliving the pain of her loss, the pleasure of seeing her, and wanting for the moments of bliss to be prolonged. However there’s more here, gradually peeled back and revealed; firstly hinted by the “burden of shame”, before clearly proclaimed in a spoken word section:
“I can’t live with this; with what I’ve done.
I killed you, my love, and I’m killing this dream.”
Sorry, what? Yes, Jay killed Rachel. What. The. Fuck.
Not only does Jay admit to himself what he did, he’s also wanting to end the dream state in which he and Rachel had been meeting; to release this bond between his departed wife and his earthly self. In response to this confession is a female voice (Amelia Duffield as Rachel), who sings to affirm that their bonding isn’t right, using the EP’s title in saying “Spectres shouldn’t meet flesh and bone”. It’s a farewell, sung beautifully as a duo in a way that you would never expect to hear on an EP like this! But with a story driving the music, what are the limits? What are the expectations?
As well as having a stunning musical finish, the close of “D.I.M.A.” hits home another important piece of information. It’s explained how a melding of minds had Sherlock’s actions performed at the hand of Jay. It turns out that Sherlock is a further embodiment of Jay’s Gloom state. Take a moment with that. I’m still getting my head around it!
Flesh & Bones last track “Can’t Reach The Sun” shows an attempt to fix this blurring of minds and control. Fight and fire land in this battle between Sherlock and Jay, yet Jay takes the upper hand and seals this evolution of Gloom from having anything to do with him ever again. Rhythmic flare outs of struggle morph into surprisingly smooth chorus. It’s a fitting end as the final word from Sherlock, as well as his containment.
Musically, “Can’t Reach The Sun” was again somewhat unexpected, and I found myself appreciating the appearance of a guitar solo, piano, and everything combined to create a beautifully triumphant finish to the EP. There’s a humongous and piercing breakdown as Sherlock says his final words; a poignant nod to where we began.
Flesh & Bones is one hell of a ride. I feel turned upside down and inside out from this EP and all of its intricacies that we’ve journeyed through over seven tracks. Villains turn remorseful, victims turn villainous, obedience becomes torture. There’s a ton of shifts and contrasts contained in this release for a curious listener to take time with, definitely with lyrics in hand.
Many band bios say things about how genre-blurred their sound is, and sometimes it’s just talk. But Flesh & Bones comes across to me as truly embodying this idea of carving a unique niche. Through their sound, The Gloom In The Corner acknowledge their nu metal/metalcore labels, but also metaphorically shrug and follow creative threads irrespective of that, including features that would be easily at home on a rock album. Guitar solos are sick.
I’m no musician, but damn it’s impressive to me how many different moods, feelings, and perspectives have been so brilliantly painted by voice and instrument across Flesh & Bones. Beyond the expected breakdowns and two-steppable moshtastic moments of fury and frustration, there were fearless inclusions of quiet grief, melodic introspection, sombre acceptance, and dreaming bliss. The Gloom In The Corner have honoured their story and the experiences and personalities of the characters within it, and the result is a strong EP full of substance and meaning.
What can't The Gloom In The Corner do? Virtually contained by a ridiculously detailed and multi-layered story, Flesh & Bones has still managed to showcase the musical brilliance of this team. An impressive feat.
This is definitely a release that'll take repeat listens to fully sink in to what's being shared. Lyrics are essential!