Om
Pilgrimage


4.0
excellent

Review

by ValiumMan USER (17 Reviews)
September 23rd, 2007 | 124 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Avant-doom duo opt for refining their sound instead of presenting something new, resulting in their best album so far.

If anything, bands like U.S. bass/drums duo Om prove that even the more obscure genres of rock music (the recent avant-doom-metal craze in this case) have their own AC/DC. You know exactly how an album of theirs is gonna sound before you’ve even heard a millisecond of it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the band, consisting of bassist/singer Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius, two thirds of stoner/doom veterans Sleep, have developed a highly original sound, mixing far-eastern temple music with 60’s psychedelic elements, pseudo-mystical lyrics, doom metal oomph and long-winded groove-driven “songs” that pushes some of the same buttons as classic German krautrock, but adds a “spiritual” edge. The problem is that Om essentially have two songs: The one with distortion and the one without. Their last album, Conference Of The Birds, released 2006, was kinda the apotheosis of this approach, with the two LP sides (or CD tracks) divided evenly between those archetypes.

However, their newest release Pilgrimage (out October 2 on Southern Lord Records), even if it doesn’t offer up anything new, but brings this s’hit in perfection. So, what’s better? Well, first of all, Pilgrimage contains the largest number of tracks (4), spread across the shortest length (30 mins) of any Om release yet, making it their most easily digestible album. None of the songs is a 16-minute mediation on a single riff that makes your attention wander, like At Giza from COTB. In fact, the songs are just long enough to keep your attention all the way through.

Secondly, the album’s been produced (sorry, recorded) by one Steve Albini, a man who I hold in very high regard, and not for nothing. While Billy Anderson’s more “warbly”, psychedelic production gave their previous two albums a distinct “stoned ramblings out of a long forgotten opium den” feel, Stevie A’s typical “crisp and clean” approach finally makes the music sound as meditative and esoteric as it should, sans annoying hippie/90’s stoner rock connotations. I mean, the opening title track is essentially the archetypical “clean” Om track, but hell, compare it to At Giza and then tell me it doesn’t sound way better without digital reverb and more accent on the drums/groove. This actually reveals Chris Hakius as a tight, driving drummer who doesn’t, unlike most of his sludgy colleagues, try to imitate Dale Crover’s asymmetric thumps and idiosyncratic fills. And on Unitive Knowledge Of The Godhead, Cisneros's distorted bass sounds like a distorted Tibetan temple bell instead of a Kyuss guitar, which is how it’d probably have come out, had Anderson produced it.

Another problem I had with the Cosmic Aum Boys’ (wouldn’t that be an awesome name for the 100th Acid Mothers Temple spinoff?) is gone as well. On their earlier albums, the heavy (i.e. distorted) sounded too much like Sleep (or Black Sabbath, respectively) and too ballsy in general, which destroyed the nice, esoteric atmosphere of the quieter (clean) stuff. On this release, they finally found out that distortion can have a meditative effect as well (this was released on Sunn O)))’s label, after all). The album’s prime heavy rocker, the 11-minute Bhima’s Theme is full of eastern-influenced droney sludge Rifferama (instead of the generic bluesy stuff of the last album’s Flight Of The Eagle), heavy, tribal drumming and Cisneros’s trademark soaring, chanted vocals. The way he doesn’t “rough up” and fall back to his old Sleep mannerisms for the distorto-pieces is admirable. Bhima’s Theme also marks the discovery on a new variation on their theme: The distorted track that has a clean part somewhere in the middle. Expect some loud-quiet action for their next album (not really though).

If anything, bands like U.S. bass/drums duo Om prove that refining the same formula over the course of three albums can yield results that are just as amazing as those of an act that changes its sounds from album to album.



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user ratings (188)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
September 23rd 2007


2647 Comments


I don't usually go for drone/doom stuff but this album is excellent.

Thor
September 23rd 2007


10200 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Where's the album picture?

jrowa001
September 23rd 2007


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i really like Om thanks to Kage. im going to get this as soon as i can. good review

ValiumMan
September 23rd 2007


493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Where's the album picture?

I uploaded it from my HDD but it doesn't show up for some reason. I'll try again ASAP.

EDIT: Fix'd. Awesome cover, ain't it? :DThis Message Edited On 09.23.07

Confessed2005
September 23rd 2007


3314 Comments


Interesting band name.

Apocalyptic Raids
September 23rd 2007


810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I might check this out. I've heard a few people mention them on the forums and I never really bothered, but the review has me kinda interested.

fathergoat
September 23rd 2007


55 Comments


I am listening to this right now. It's really great, but i am not an expert on the genre.

I like in more than Sunn O))) and thats all i can say

Good review as well. Convinced me to to put it on for another spin.

Doppelganger
September 23rd 2007


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

om nom nom

ohcleverhansyou
September 23rd 2007


885 Comments


This sounds alright, though my first foray into doom metal didn't go so well.

Fort23
September 23rd 2007


2475 Comments


cool review.

any14doomsday
September 23rd 2007


679 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Best OM YET ! aside from At Giza ff there last album. All of the songs easily out-class everything else they have done. The only beef I have with it is that there riffs are all kinda same-ish. But even If they have made the same album 3 times this is easily the best one yet.

The Ex-Sleep camps have really released steller stuff this ear, you should check out the new high on fire if you have not already.This Message Edited On 09.23.07

ValiumMan
September 24th 2007


493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hmm... I dunno, I'm not too hot for High On Fire, they're too "metal" (in a "satan and pot" kinda sense) for me. I don't like Sleep all that much either, 'cept for Dopesmoker.

plane
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2007


6094 Comments


Great review. I got this last night but haven't listened to it yet, but I have high hopes.

blackmilk
September 24th 2007


584 Comments


boring band

fathergoat
September 24th 2007


55 Comments


Really good album. I wasn't expecting it to be great but wow. I would recommend it. 3.5 for the moment.

MrKite
September 30th 2007


5020 Comments


I want to hear this a lot, even if there isn't a chance I'll like it.

Bfhurricane
September 30th 2007


6197 Comments


Interesting review. I dont understand, though, how this is a bass/drum duo making good music. Maybe Ill check it out

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
September 30th 2007


17920 Comments


you've never heard of bass/drum music?

Kage
October 1st 2007


1172 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is one of my favorite bands...by far not their best release, though it is amazing like everything else they do. Conference is their best, and the one anyone getting into the band should listen to first.

Unreal
October 1st 2007


229 Comments


solid review, their first album didn't do alot for me, from your review seems like I'll enjoy this.



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