Review Summary: Putting the "Gloom" back in Old Man Gloom.
At this point in time, it’d be impossible for me to write a review of The Ape of God II
without addressing the elephant in the room. The truth is that whether or not the idea of a bunch of music journalists unknowingly giving praise to a fake album seems hilarious or pointless, it actually has very little effect on the impact and overall value of The Ape of God
on its own. You see, while Old Man Gloom might’ve had fun taking the piss out of the music press for about fifteen minutes, that didn’t mean they were masking the final product due to some sort of inferiority complex. Because in reality, the new arrangement of The Ape of God
into two separate albums was a fantastic idea. With The Ape of God I
, Old Man Gloom included the tracks that had a more aggressive sound and a more intense style. It was essentially just Old Man Gloom being Old Man Gloom, and that was fine. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But Old Man Gloom had a trick up their sleeves. For the second half of the LP, the band had recorded a handful of lengthier, more atmospheric tracks that deviated from their traditional sound and leaned more towards the Seminar
days. And with The Ape of God II
, Old Man Gloom have proven that they still have the chops to make a much darker brand of sludge metal.
Right from the start, Old Man Gloom waste no time in establishing that The Ape of God II
is a very different album compared to its predecessor. Despite being just four tracks long, it surpasses the duration of The Ape of God I
by three minutes, and only one song dips below twelve minutes. In addition, the music as a whole is much more dismal than anything off of the first album. Here, you feel a far greater sense of fragmentation and emptiness, as opposed to the primal, animalistic rage of The Ape of God I
. The vocals are still as raspy and abrasive as they should be, but there’s something else there as well. The jarring wail of the guitars in the background of “Burden” exemplifies this, as well as the brooding, ominous feel of the bass and riffs. The creepy vocal samples and static in “A Hideous Nightmare Lie Upon the World” are also effective in building up the atmosphere. Hell, even the album art looks paler and bleaker. Bassist Caleb Scofield and guitarist Nate Newton don’t disappoint, with crushingly heavy riffs providing a balance against the slower ambient passages. Santos Montano’s drumming is also noteworthy, with an oddly tribal feel fitting into the album’s raw texture. But perhaps the most impressive comes in the form of closer “Arrows To Our Hearts”. The song not only features surprisingly calm clean singing, but also incorporates the most ambient influences on the album, with eerily quiet sections gradually rising up alongside the drum beat into a cluster of grinding riffs and savage vocals.
However, all of this might seem like a little much to take in at once. After all, prior to this, Old Man Gloom had released just one album in the past eight years. Wouldn’t it be a risky move to create a double album with two diverging sides just after coming off of such a long absence? Perhaps it would be, but it works
. Not only is the experience more enjoyable due to the interesting contrast between both halves, but it also gives the band the opportunity to experiment a little more without coming off as inconsistent. And ultimately, that’s where The Ape of God II
comes out on top. There’s that desolate, almost schizophrenic vibe coming off of the album, and at the same time, just enough of the trademark Old Man Gloom sound to keep it all together. It’s definitely a more interesting and rewarding experience than the first side, and stands out as one of the better sludge metal albums of the year. So, the next time you decide to tear out your fingernails, write disturbing messages on a wall with animal blood, and smear your own excrement across your sunken, hallowed body, make sure The Ape of God II
is your soundtrack. Of course, you could also just listen to it while cooking dinner or doing the laundry, but……