Review Summary: Time to shake our world // Prepare to live
Old Man Gloom have withstood the eroding sands of time for 20 years. Who would’ve thought? I wonder if Santos did? Once regarded as some ‘supergroup’ from the minds behind much more beloved bands – ISIS, Cave In, Converge – the project ended up outliving most of their other bands and became arguably one of their most important ones. What seemed to have started off as a non-serious venture for jokesters to explore a gnarly take of sludgecore similar to Celestial
coupled between various sample-based noise tracks and field recordings, evolved into a testament to friendship and love to everyone involved, reaching the hearts of fans all over the world.
In 2018, OMG bassist Caleb Scofield had passed away in a tragic accident and what was left after the event since then were rekindled bonds and appreciation in long-time friends, fans, and family. With none other than Cave In’s Steve Brodsky as the most appropriate candidate ever to replace Scofield, the band forged on, imprinting what they felt from the loss of their one of their best friends of 20 years, documenting and paying tributes every chance they got, into two of the most turbulent and emotional records of 2020.
Similar stylistically and in length to The Ape of God
, Old Man Gloom gift us with Light of Meaning
and Darkness of Being
, baring more teeth and grit than ever before. The once-disconnected ambient-electronic-noise tracks had long married with the doom/hardcore moments since 2012’s NO
and serve as scratchy, eerie tension created by guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner to further progress his drone/noise explorations. The Newton-led “EMF” and “True Volcano” rip through with rugged delivery and thunderous swagger in Montano’s batterings. “Wrath of the Weary” swings along from drudging, disoriented vocals and riffs before blooming to a resonant and squealing finish. As sorely missed as Scofield’s ferocious vocal contributions are, to hear Brodsky belting out his harsh-vox again is refreshing, breathing life as a new higher-pitched bellowing personality in the savageness of “Final Defeat”. Just as refreshing is Newton showcasing his singing chops behind the vulnerable buildups in the verses of “Calling You Home”. “By Love All Is Healed” holds a revisited surprise, sneakily transitioning towards a familiar riff from Seminar IX
before breaking into a pounding, haunting drone march and tribalistic affirmations. Scofield is honored in spirit through his writing in “True Volcano” and “Final Defeat”, with one being an idea for Scofield’s Zozobra project and the other being the original rendition of the 2004 Christmas
rearranged track, both given the 2020 OMG treatment.
With seasoned, old collaborators like Ballou and Bayles behind the production helm (per usual), bringing out the best sounding project out of the band thus far, Seminar VIII
bring 13 matured OMG tracks that in culmination of this project and its members’ history is a tribute and testament that love in the most arduous, exhausting, and hopeless times during loss and death will persevere.
Old Man Gloom is forever Aaron Turner, Nate Newton, Santos Montano, Steve Brodsky, and Caleb Scofield.