Old Man Gloom
Christmas


3.0
good

Review

by eternium USER (16 Reviews)
June 9th, 2010 | 34 replies | 10,290 views


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A mix of sludge metal and metallic hardcore that fails to meet its potential and finds itself overtaken by unnecessary noise that ultimately disappoints.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Supergroups will always be compared to each member's main band. It is inevitable and most have grown to accept that. Old Man Gloom is essentially a supergroup of the Boston hardcore/metal scene. Aaron Turner, probably the most famous member, also plays in Isis and is the owner of Hydra Head Records, which every member of the band has been signed on to at one point with his other respected band. Nate Newton is on guitar for Old Man Gloom rather than his regular bass for Converge. Santos Montano rocks the drums and also played on a Zozobra (basically a sister band of OMG) album with Caleb Scofield of Cave In, who plays bass in OMG and started both bands during Cave In's absence from music. Finally, Luke Scarola controls electronics, which play a large role on Christmas.

Old Man Gloom's sound is very much a melting pot of the bands mentioned before. The thick sludge metal of Isis' Celestial is very much present throughout, smashing your head in with brutality when it appears. It is for that reason that Christmas is best described as a sludge metal album, albeit more experimental. The dissonance of Converge makes an appearance every once in awhile, reminding one of their sludgy You Fail Me. The post-hardcore tendencies of Cave In also appear, helping with the dynamics in the songs. In the end, it is Zozobra that can be best compared to, with dense sludge passages evident throughout.

An interesting characteristic is how the band uses the vocals of Turner, Scofield, and Newton. All three men have a similar shouting style, yet have their own distinct voices. Turner tends to own the slower and heavier songs, while Scofield takes on the more energetic angular, hardcore tinged riffs. Newton is the least present vocally, but certainly shows himself, even if he usually sticks to background vocals.

At this point, it sounds as if Christmas is the perfect mix of the heavy sludge metal and metallic hardcore that the members play in their other bands. If it was, the album would have a higher rating. However, only half of the album consists of headbangable tunes. Of course, those tunes hit hard, very hard. A trait of the album is that for every badass heavy song, there is an ambient track that simply drags on for too long. These tracks are nothing like the post-rock elements of Isis that listeners become indulged in and bring the album down. "Accord-O-Matic" is one such track that consists of noise before an annoying dissonant accordion plays for much longer than wanted. "Sonic Dust" is the only ambient track that is actually interesting, as it actually builds up to the next track. The other shortfall is that the "metal songs" end before they could have exploded into something more. "Girth and Greed" is only a minute and a half long, but it feels like it could have been much more. Overall, the album continuously feels like it holds back potential that should have been unleashed, but never is.

Perhaps if Old Man Gloom had reversed the formula, then the album would have been better. The heavier tracks, as amazing as they are already, could have been explored further and built upon. The ambient tracks could have been shorter and more interesting. It is possible that the band did this on purpose in order to differ from what would be expected. Even so, "The Volcano" seems to be what the rest of the songs should have been, as it explodes just as its name implies, after an interesting build up. One would expect the sixteen minute "Christmas Eve" to be an epic that leads to a climax, but once it is listened to, it is only found to be sixteen minutes of noise, thus making it the biggest disappointment of all.

Christmas is much like the Christmas present that your parents got you every year when you were a teenager. They had a vague idea of what you liked and attempted to get you something nice, but when you opened up the box, it was not what you wanted. Maybe it was a band shirt for a band that you loved two years ago, but lost that love since. Maybe it was an MP3 player from Wal-Mart that only holds two hundred songs instead of an iPod that holds two thousand. Sure, you still like it, but you remain disappointed and wish you had gotten something better. A huge fan of Isis, Converge, and/or Cave In may go to this album expecting something epic, only to find a handful of sick songs overwhelmed by pointless ambience that leads up to nothing.



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user ratings (103)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
eternium
June 9th 2010



16206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Found that this album didn't have a review, so I did it myself.

Advice and constructive criticism would be nice before anyone negs.

Digging: Thou - Heathen

ConsiderPhlebas
June 9th 2010



6157 Comments


Good review, man. Not heard this, but I love the Seminar records so might get around to it eventually.

eternium
June 9th 2010



16206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I still haven't listened to those.

Dryden
June 9th 2010



12813 Comments


want to hear more of this band

ConsiderPhlebas
June 9th 2010



6157 Comments


Seminar III is one thirty minute song and it's fucking epic. II is weird and unpleasantly good.

eternium
June 9th 2010



16206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Unpleasantly good?

ConsiderPhlebas
June 9th 2010



6157 Comments


Well, unpleasant and good I think I was trying to say. It's a very dark record, twisted in places.

eternium
June 9th 2010



16206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is quite dark as well. But, obviously, I found it boring sometimes.

Relinquished
June 9th 2010



22312 Comments


Good review, but it seems that you're expecting too much of the album. The heavy tracks are fine the way they are (example: Skullstorm); not every one of them have to be long or else they'll suck. The song/sound thing this has going on is interesting imo (to many others as well) and it is what makes it memorable. I guess there is some filler here and there, but a real solid record overall.

eternium
June 9th 2010



16206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Of course I expected a lot, considering that I love Converge, Isis, and Cave In. Most, but not all of the heavy songs seemed like they could have been more. The main setback for me is that the ambient tracks are boring and ruin the mood that the heavy songs set.

Relinquished
June 9th 2010



22312 Comments


You exactly fall into your first sentence then. Just because they have members of this band and that band, they're not always gonna be what those bands sound in a combined form. This is Old Man Gloom. You probably think the ambient tracks are boring because you don't listen to much doom, sludge, or drone. "Something for the Mrs." for example is similar to "Become the Ocean" and "Rehumanize" from Through Silver In Blood. You say you like that album, so then you shouldn't have a problem with tracks here.

NortherlyNanook
June 9th 2010



1285 Comments


You probably think the ambient tracks are boring because you don't listen to much doom, sludge, or drone.


no some of the ambient tracks really are pretty boring/too long

Dryden
June 9th 2010



12813 Comments


bro relinquished man, should i check this out bro man bro

eternium
June 9th 2010



16206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Both of those tracks on TSIB are interesting though and help with the flow. They aren't long or drawn out. I don't listen to straight up doom or drone much, though I can appreciate both, such as Sunn O))) and Earth. I listen to plenty of sludge, especially Neurosis.

Relinquished
June 9th 2010



22312 Comments


@ Nanook: ehh I guess it depends on the mood, some of them are pretty boring I'll give you that. that's why my rating isn't that high.

@ Dryden: sure, man. you may find it boring, but imagine this as Neurosis/Converge kind of band.

@ eternium: I respect your opinion, not gonna drag this out. Even if I disagree, this is a good review, well described and opinion was backed up. This album needed a review.

eternium
June 9th 2010



16206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think I'm going to do Human 2.0 next, since I just noticed that it doesn't have a review either.

eternium
June 9th 2010



16206 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

FUCK, anyone want to do me a favor and vote on my Black Flag review since two assholes just neg'd it and didn't give a reason?
That's my favorite damn review that I've done so far.

Ire
June 10th 2010



41453 Comments


Review is good.

Mordecai.
June 10th 2010



8255 Comments


great band

Mordecai.
June 10th 2010



8255 Comments


a bit gloomy though



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