Old Man Gloom’s NO released June 26, 2012 via Hydra Head which is my favorite place to look for great experimental artists. Old Man Gloom is basically a doom metal metal band with some experimental noise music thrown in. I found these guys through some best-of-halfway-through-the-year lists. Out there on the blogs it seems that either this band is unheard of, or they have a lot of hype and praise, so I decided to get it.
The first track is a noise track. It introduces the main motif of the second track with lots of white noise and sometimes (pretty great!) piercing electronic noises. I must say I love the track one/two combo. If the rest of the album were like this it would be quite a fantastic album.
Track two is much heavier. We get the characteristic sound of the rest of the album. Their sound involves large heavy chords made with distorted guitars and abrasive vocals. The electronic/noise aspect continues throughout this as well. Although some songs feel semi-fast, the tempo itself always stays fairly slow.
There is something about this album that is hard to quantify. If you haven’t noticed yet you could classify the three things I like most in metal as a heavily experimental band + technical playing + a huge deep dark sound. In theory, Old Man Gloom’s No should be my dream album. In reality, I’m just not excited about it at all. I can’t pinpoint why.
Maybe it’s because there are a lot of tracks like Regain/Rejoin where they pick some basic two beat motif and just riff on it for minutes on end. Even the extra stuff around it and experimentation and building/development isn’t enough to make that level of minimalism exciting to me.
Maybe it is because the intro sets it up to be a great experiment in noise and we essentially never come back to the idea. Most of the experimentation and noise is covered under their wall of sound or relegated to little patches in between songs. This makes me compare the majority of the album to a generic doom metal sound. These in between patches aren’t as good as the first one either which creatively introduces the motif of the following song.
My favorite song is probably To Carry the Flame. Now this is one heck of an exciting song. They really build the song to the end, and when it hits the climax they pound out the sound. I always get lost in this track. I even had to stop writing while listening to it during this review. In a similar vein, I’d say Rats has the same effect. The track that feels most out of place is Crescent. I swear it could fit on Radiohead’s Kid A nicely.
I have to give them one thing for sure; this is a whole album. Almost all of the songs are tied together nicely which makes it feel more like one gigantic long-form song rather than nine shorter songs. Overall, to me this album suffers from the same type of thing I’ve criticized before. When it’s good, it’s great, but otherwise I just can’t get excited enough to give this a great overall score.
I give No a 6.5/10.
Here’s a sample: