Review : Old Man Gloom - NO
SputnikmusicNo 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....full text
LouderthanwarOld Man Gloom have been silent for almost a decade now. Their last release was the blistering ‘Christmas’ from 2004 and their absence has seen the rise of both pretenders and contemporaries within their field. The brainchild of Isis frontman Aaron Turner, Old Man Gloom also consists of Nate Newton from Converge and Caleb Scofield from Cave In (amongst others). The Converge connection is further solidified by the presence of Kurt Ballou on production, at which he excels himself once again.
Isis were one of the forerunners of the Post-Hardcore boom of the last decade. Together with Cult of Luna, Mogwai, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky they created a genre of music which has been heavily imitated and used as a source of inspiration for countless bands. Isis are unfortunately no more, having disbanded in 2010, but Turner is showing no signs of resting upon the legacy which he helped to create....full text
PopmattersOld Man Gloom is a supergroup. I realize that term is inevitably accompanied by the knowledge that disappointment is sure to follow, but with members from Isis, Cave In and Converge in its ranks, describing the band otherwise wouldn’t do it justice. However, you can rest assured that the avant-garde metal Old Man Gloom purveys is not tainted by inflated egos; quite the reverse. If anything, NO, the band’s latest album and the first since 2004’s Christmas, sees the “fame” of the band’s members deliberately obscured – crushed beneath mucilaginous metal and static-ridden noise.
Old Man Gloom contains noted fringe metal dwellers Aaron Turner (guitars/vocals), Nate Newtown (guitars/vocals), Santos Montano (drums) and Caleb Scofield (bass/vocals). Over the past dozen years the band has released a scattering of EPs and four full-lengths. All have been widely celebrated for their unorthodox mix of post-hardcore flavored metal and clamoring experimentalism. The band was on hiatus for eight years, but, earlier in 2012, Old Man Gloom emerged to play a series of shows, where its previously hinted-at new album was put on sale for fans in advance of its full release. Eight years is an excruciatingly long time without a release from Old Man Gloom, and the band has rewarded fans with its most compositionally adventurous album yet. Its distinctive slough was produced by the consistently laudable Kurt Ballou, whose work raises Old Man Gloom’s noisome vapors to choking levels.
The fathomless murk of “The Forking Path”, “To Carry the Flame” and “Regain/Rejoin” illustrates that time off has had no impact on the band’s patented blend of aggressive off-kilter assaults. Wailing walls of percussive noise and guitars, buried and clean vocals, and endless audible tremors lurk on the album’s more structured tracks – although any actual “structure” to be found among the chaos is barely contained. In one sense, NO harnesses the expected from Old Man Gloom – which does the anarchically assaulting very well – yet the band has not set out to simply repeat an already successful formula. Drone, ambient passages and fragmenting and splintering noise all play a far greater role in establishing the album’s overall harrowing timbre....full text
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