Words by Jon Garcia
Even in universal experiences, there are multitudes.
Take a band like Atlanta’s Cloak, one of countless collectives that saw their livelihood grind to a stop in the blink of an eye. Just like everyone else, they were forced home and left with more questions than answers.
Yet only a finite number of bands will share in a more specific experience: what it was like to release a record in late 2019.
Cloak’s sophomore album, The Burning Dawn, came out on October 25, 2019. Far enough ahead of the pandemic to leave its release unaffected, but just in time to spike the tires on any chance to support it, including an extensive tour with 1349 and Uada.
It’s an experience that the blackened heavy metal band is still navigating, even as they prepare to turn the page to a new album in the coming months.
“In my eyes, I almost see The Burning Dawn as like a lost record, in a way,” guitarist and vocalist Scott Taysom said. He and drummer Sean Bruneau caught up with KNOTFEST at their recent Nashville stop supporting Imperial Triumphant on a short, 10-stop tour.
“We were really fortunate to get signed to Season
So the band did what so many others were forced to do: set to work on writing the next album.
Leave Them Wanting More
Cloak’s music exists in a nexus between black and heavy metal. It’s both aggressive and bombastic while still finding a mystic, gothic beauty to connect their songs. But Taysom, Bruneau, and their cohorts Max Brigham (guitar) and Billy Robinson (bass) understand the inherent infectiousness that all of their favorite bands possess. There is as much AC/DC and Sisters of Mercy in their blueprint as there is Dissection and Iron Maiden.
They stuck to the tried and true formula of writing music they wanted to listen to, and leaned on the bands that conjured their imagination in the first place.
“I know there’s tons and tons of new bands out, and I’m always checking it, but I’m always going to go back to like the Maidens, and the Slayers, and the Metallicas,” Taysom said.
“Oh, we lost our mind all day yesterday to Rainbow,” Bruneau adds.
“I like catchy music, and I think you can do heavy, evil sounding music and still make it catchy. Like the first Slayer record, or The Somberlain by Dissection. Shit like that.”
At the end of the day, Bruneau said, it just comes down to wanting to write good songs.
“We always still circle back to Metallica. Why did they catch on so well? They wrote songs. Anyone can riff. Anyone can demonstrate their musical aptitude. But how many people can write songs?”
A New Chapter Lies Ahead
Cloak is confident in the songs they wrote for their upcoming album. They’ve been playing together for 10 years, they know their sound, and they are still pushing each other to become better musicians and take their songs to the next level.
Bruneau said this feels like their “most refreshing musical endeavor yet” because they’re not trying to be anything other than who they are.
“I think that’s something that happens as a band grows and matures and evolves. There’s less thought. It just become an unconsciously created effort.”
As they’ve been able to get back out on the road, they’ve started to integrate new songs into the setlist. They debuted “The Holy Dark” in late 2021, and for the Imperial Triumphant tour brought out “Seven Thunders,” a dark, thrashy song that’s been closing their set.
It lives up to the two words Bruneau uses to describe the album: urgency and intention.
“It’s a lot more intense,” Taysom said of the new record. “It’s definitely faster, heavier, more extreme vocals on the high and the lows. I put a lot of work into that. Faster drumming, more double bass, more blasts. I think it’s pretty different than both of the other records for sure.
“I think a lot of our older records, the verses all had a similar pace and on this one we talked about how cool it is that every verse on each song sounds different and the choruses are big.”
“Every song that we wrote really does feel very different,” Bruneau agrees. “Like, there is a completely acoustic number on the album. There is an arena banger.”
Even though Cloak may view The Burning Dawn as a lost record from their perspective, it’s still spent the last two years finding its way into the ears of extreme metal fans. Since the band has gotten back on the road, they hear from people at almost every show that just got into the record.
“This tour has been fucking sick, “Taysom said. “I mean there’s been multiple sold out shows and we’ve hit some markets that we haven’t hit before which is cool. It’s going to be an exciting year for sure. It feels like 2019 when we were doing all that Dawn stuff and touring a lot, but on a bigger level.”
Cloak are currently on tour supporting Imperial Triumphant. Check the list of remaining dates below.
CLOAK (w/ IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT):
01/31: Newark, NJ @ QXT TICKETS> **NEW LOCATION**
02/01: Pittsburgh, PA @ Black Forge TICKETS> **SOLD OUT**
02/02: Cincinnati, OH @ Legends TICKETS>
02/03: Nashville, TN @ The End TICKETS>
02/04: Atlanta, GA @ Boggs Social TICKETS> **HOMETOWN SHOW**
02/05: Mobile, AL @ Alabama Music Box TICKETS>
02/06: Orlando, FL @ Haven TICKETS>
02/07: Miami, FL @ Gramps TICKETS>
02/09: W. Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern TICKETS>
02/10: Chesapeake, VA @ Riffhouse TICKETS>
05/06: Greensboro, NC @ Carolina Chainsaw Massacre Fest II TICKETS>*
05/27-28: Baltimore, MD @ Hell in the Harbor Fest TICKETS>*
*festival date, Cloak only