Despite Its Black Metal Label, Cloak Promises a Rock 'n' Roll Show at Gramps

Cloak is ready to win you over with its black metal sound.
Cloak is ready to win you over with its black metal sound. Photo by Acacia Levin
When Scott Taysom picks up the phone, it's surprising to hear how conventional his speaking voice is. He sounds like some guy who could sell you insurance or do your taxes. His conversational tone couldn't be more different from the guttural, almost supernaturally deep register he's known for as part of the Atlanta-based black metal quartet Cloak.

"My voice can get strained, especially if I don't practice," Taysom says. "Last week, we rehearsed for the first time in a while, and my voice went out. As I get older, I have to take warm-ups more seriously. It's not the healthiest to sing this way; it takes a toll on the body — but so does everything in black metal."

Taysom first formed Cloak with drummer Sean Bruneau in 2013. Both were veterans of the Atlanta music scene but had different sounds. Taysom was in a punk band while Bruneau was in a hardcore band.

"We both wanted to do a metal band, and we had a chemistry that was hard to deny," Taysom adds. "Black metal has a side that is spiritual and gives you a freedom to experiment and explore an ephemeral sound. It's like a never-ending art project. We were too creative to be bound with the ideas in the kind of music we were playing before."

South Florida fans will get a chance to see what Cloak and black metal are all about when the band stops at Gramps on Tuesday, February 7, with experimental metal outfit Imperial Triumphant. It's the band's first South Florida show since performing at Churchill's Pub in 2019.

"Cloak shows are very energetic and atmospheric. We have the energy of a rock 'n' roll show," Taysom says. "A lot of black metal bands are so technical they can be fucking boring to watch. A lot of drummers just play like a click machine. Sean beats the hell out of the drums for us, and we're headbanging the whole time."
During Tuesday's show, Cloak will perform new songs off its long-gestating, still-unnamed third album, which is due for release within the next few months.

"We started recording it [from] August 2021 through February 2022. Mixing and mastering was a nightmare," Taysom says. "Then we finally finished it, the record plants were all backed up, but maybe it's for the best it took so long. A lot of new music came out last year, and it could have been lost. I think when it finally comes out, it'll be everyone's favorite record. The themes are fire, empowerment, liberation through spiritual quests, and power through solitude."

Because of the gap in time between recording and performing, the band has had to slowly reacquaint itself with the material conceived over a year ago.

"We hadn't really played the new songs live because we've still been touring to promote the last record, [2019's The Burning Dawn]," Taysom explains. "You record them, and then you forget about them. These new songs are our most complicated, but it's good. They've broadened out our skill sets."

Taysom's most recognizable skill is getting his voice to sound as bestial as humanly possible.

"I have a certain tinge to my voice that I try to emphasize; that way, the songs aren't so monotonous with someone screaming all the time," he says. "Over the years, my vocal style has changed. It's much more controlled now. I can hit the notes I need to hit. It was more unpredictable before, which I guess can be good also."

Even if you're unfamiliar or intimidated by Cloak — or black metal in general — Taysom promises you'll have a good time.

"Come with an open mind, and you'll get something out of it," he says. "I think we win a lot of people over."

Cloak. With Imperial Triumphant and Couch Slut. 7 p.m. Tuesday, February 7, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; Tickets cost $20 via
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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland

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