Old Man Gloom – NO – 85%

NO cover art

After nearly 8 years Old Man Gloom return with NO, their first release since 2004’s “Christmas“. Driven by ISIS front man Aaron Turner and including members of Cave In and Converge, the post/sludge/doom metal giants are definitely back and sounding as powerful as ever. NO is nearly an hour of brutal metal that is as gut-punchingly intense as it is deafeningly loud.

NO feels like a return to the earlier days of Old Man Gloom, with less experimentation and a more in your face approach. Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely experimentation here, but for the most part, the first 7 tracks are some of the bands heaviest work to date mixed with just the right amount of minimalist drone effort. Tracks like “Common Species” chug along as they change tempo and intensity while others like “To Carry the Flame” begin with tight riffs and Turner’s signature brutal vocals before tapering off into a sea of drone static. Turner is spot on throughout this album, providing deep nasty brutal vocals that are understandable and deep screams that will take on the ear-drums of anyone brave enough to delve into this album.  The album wraps up with “Crescent” which is the most mellow track on the album featuring clean vocals and “Shuddering Earth”, a 14 minute groove mammoth that is a fine mix of pace changing, deeply layered vocal textures, and static/electronic drone.

As someone who has loved ISIS for nearly a decade, it took me a real long time to understand the appeal of Old Man Gloom. I never really understand the appeal of straight post-hardcore bands and I’ve said before on this site that I’m not nearly as versed in sludge metal as I’d like to be. But to me this is an excellent album that blends the heavier side of post-metal with the drone side of sludge-metal. It’s amazing that after 8 years the fire and passion still burns within Old Man Gloom to churn out an album as emotionally violent as NO. Don’t call it a comeback because this is just another tale of a great band returning to claim their spot amongst post-metal royalty. 9-12-12.

Available for $7 on bandcamp: http://oldmangloom.bandcamp.com/