Old Man Gloom
NO


3.5
great

Review

by Ryan Kroner USER (29 Reviews)
May 21st, 2012 | 40 replies | 10,448 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: After 8 years, Old Man Gloom have changed little, displaying the same strengths and weaknesses that they have always carried with them.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

No one expected NO. Old Man Gloom, a supergroup consisting of members of such esteemed acts as Isis, Zozobra, and Converge, has last released music in the form of 2004's Christmas and had barely been heard from since. So, naturally, it came as a huge surprise to many when, out of the blue, Hydra Head Records announced that the elusive group would be embarking on an East Coast tour. This was enough to raise eyebrows, yet the truly confounding thing here was that, apparently, Old Man Gloom would also be selling copies of a brand new album at these dates. This album had been rumored for years, most recently in the form of a subtle easter egg in the background of a promotional Hydra Head image released last year*, yet no one really expected these rumors to go anywhere. Naturally, fans of the band's previous work were rife with anticipation, eagerly awaiting June 26 - when NO would be released to regular outlets - or whenever someone with access to the band's tour dates uploaded a vinyl rip of the album. So, now that the latter has occurred, the question remains: does NO stand strong against the potentially unreasonably high expectations set for it ever since the band last released music 8 years ago?

The answer is twofold. On one hand, Old Man Gloom have, with no, yet again accomplished what they last achieved on Christmas. It really is wonderful to once more have the opportunity to digest their signature spacey, sludge-influenced hardcore, and they have not regressed a single step since they were last active. In fact, they have not progressed or sidestepped either. NO shows they doing nearly exactly what they were doing in 2004, and while this lack of progression may be a turnoff for some new fans, those who have followed them for a while will probably already be so enamored with what they already sound like that it won't matter that NO is really not all that different from what they have done before. There certainly is something to be said for this perspective. With every one of this record's nine tracks, Old Man Gloom once again prove how good they are at what they do. Ambient pieces like opener 'Grand Inversion' give way to plodding, sludgey romps like 'Common Species' in a glorious balance of aggression and introspection. The latter is one of the album's four tracks clocking in over eight minutes, and while it is undeniably a good listen, Old Man Gloom are arguably at their best when working in short form. The two-and-a-half minute 'Regain/Rejoin' is an absolute home run, with its bass-heavy Southern riffing accentuated by major key leads and Aaron Turner's always-fantastic barks, while cuts like the four-minute 'The Forking Path' provide the perfect proportions of furious hardcore and peaceful soundscapes.

However, when discussing the weaknesses present on NO, "proportions" is a key word. If this album is exceedingly similar to Christmas, its strengths will not be the only thing it shares with that release. All the weaknesses found on Old Man Gloom's old output are, unfortunately, glaringly present on their most recent, and the most glaring of these faults is proportion control. Out of the album's four longer tracks, three of them spend half or more of their duration on ambient soundscapes rather than on the sludge that most listeners want to hear, and while these soundscapes are undoubtedly executed with skill, they come off as filler rather than as an integral part of NO. A prime example is closer 'Shuddering Earth'. When fans first noticed the 14-minute runtime listed for the song on the preorder page, they may have been filled with hope for an atmospheric sludge epic along the lines of 2001's Seminar III: Zozobra, yet in place of this, we get a relatively pleasurable first half of dissonant sludge followed by a second half of ambiance. Again, this ambiance is not an issue in an of itself, but when considering that it consists of much of the duration of tracks like 'Rats,' 'Shadowed Hand,' and 'Shuddering Earth,' one wonders what could have been had Old Man Gloom decided to devote more time to creating the kind of music that the metal community has grown to love them for.

NO is not a bad album by any means. It displays Old Man Gloom performing the kind of hardcore-influenced sludge that they are so undeniably adept at, and this part of their musical persona rarely falters. The one thing that holds back this album from true greatness is that songs like 'Shuddering Earth' suffer from a disproportionate amount of ambient noodling, made all the ore disappointing by the knowledge that Old Man Gloom, as referenced by Seminar III, are incredibly good at crafting longer pieces of music. However, fortunately for fans new and old, this unfortunate misstep is greatly overshadowed by the fact that the parts of NO that contain real substance are just as good as anyone could have ever hoped for. We can only hope that NO will not be followed by yet another nearly decade-long break, and that Old Man Gloom will continue to astound for years to come, learning from their mistakes and bettering themselves with each new release.

*http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-z0QX8UWqjGA/TnEmSWoOSpI/AAAAAAAAAgo/6hX98Nsyq44/s1600/OMG_HHR_AD_rockarolla_JULY11.jpg



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user ratings (95)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Ignimbrite
May 21st 2012



5300 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

it's technically been released so I figured that it would be fine to post this.

Sevhead
May 21st 2012



569 Comments


will definitely listen, didn't read your review. great review dude!

Ignimbrite
May 21st 2012



5300 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

lol

theacademy
May 21st 2012



28271 Comments


oddish gloom vileplume

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 21st 2012



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

love omg... christmas was incredible. still absorbing this, but will likely have a review up eventually. nice job

MRectangle
May 28th 2012



5 Comments


"The Forking Path" and "Shadowed Hand" are good. It feels like the longer songs are growers instead of showers. Overall they've slowed the pace down on this album.

Nothing here quite headbangs like "Rape Athena" or "Volcano"; instead it sounds like more of an analytical loudness than an energetic loudness.

eternium
May 28th 2012



16307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If this is so similar to Christmas then I don't know if this is worth checking out.

Relinquished
May 28th 2012



24486 Comments


waah too much ambience not enough blah

eternium
May 28th 2012



16307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The ambience on Christmas was just boring.

Relinquished
May 28th 2012



24486 Comments


FAIR ENOUGH

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 29th 2012



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

OMG really feels like what isis used to be

eternium
May 29th 2012



16307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Maybe during Celestial and before.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 29th 2012



4940 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

more before than celestial, but somewhat celestial as well

Ignimbrite
May 30th 2012



5300 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

thank you for your input, Wolfe

Inveigh
June 19th 2012



24820 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really dig this, the dirty hardcore sound really works well with post-y sludge, in this case

FranzSchubert
June 28th 2012



810 Comments


ooh damn this is tasty

eternium
June 29th 2012



16307 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is so much better than Christmas.

cvlts
July 2nd 2012



8954 Comments


not diggin this that much :/

evilford
July 2nd 2012



21287 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Parts of Christmas were great and not all the ambient was boring as fuck but some was (accord-O-matic...) but there were also a few pretty good ambient songs

Def getting this

Digging: Slugathor - Echoes from Beneath

steventon
July 3rd 2012



152 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

review is spot on. might be their most "difficult" album though, I have a feeling the longer tracks will take time to grow on me.

"To Carry The Flame" and "The Forking Path" slay, though.



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