Music Reviews

Old Man Gloom

Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivism Regressionism

Seminar III: Zozobra

Tortuga

Fucking hell. Buried underneath five miles of cooled molten lava-rock, with another five of black-as-night ash on top of that. Lifeless, spent. Annihilated mathematics aside, the lessons taught on Old Man Gloom’s Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivism Regressionism and Seminar II: Zozobra are the most sonically dense, emotionally/physically punishing ones this side of Godflesh’s Streetcleaner and Neurosis’ Through Silver in Blood. Featuring the considerable talents of Isis’ Aaron Turner (vocals, guitar), Converge’s bassist/sometimes-guitarist Nate Newton on guitar, and Cave In’s Caleb Scofield on bass, the five-piece Old Man Gloom are something of a supergroup, the results being calculatedly stultifying whether it be the long-player (the former: 17 tracks in an hour) or the mini-one (the latter: one 27-minute track). Not too far removed from Turner’s Isis (“the East Coast Neurosis,” some have glibly quipped), OMG are more distended and exaggerated than his central creative vehicle (the other one being the ambient House of Low Culture), their compositions both more sprawling and more fragmented, the heaviness heavier and airiness airier, self-nullification both quicker and longer-lasting. Funny thing is, both Seminar II and III match each other weight for leaden weight, the songs of the former fading in and out of one another similar to how the latter’s sole one slugs along panoramically, perhaps a bit more due to its protractedly ascending/descending sludge-crawl, the EP’s blow-by-blow/minute-to-minute trajectory more discernible than the album’s often-jarring spew of scathing sketches. Because of this fact, however, Seminar II might be the most rewarding in the long term whereas III gratifies most immediately and poignantly, no doubt aided by an aching melody yearning to find a home. Either way, it matters not: Both opuses are to be absorbed like fine peyote, an hour and a half hardly a demand on one’s time for heavy-handed/minded hallucinogens of such literal might and figurative horror. Much like Tool’s Lateralus and Zao’s Zao already this year, then, both Seminars stand bleak and billowing as monoliths unto themselves, slabs of drone-utilizing/inducing metal swathed in otherworldly colors that know no time nor space, other than that the world, time, and space Old Man Gloom know is one prudent souls would rather not inhabit, the album’s song titles and their attendant lyrics evidencing such on the surface: “Deserts in Your Eyes,” “Rape Athena,” “Clenched Tight in the Fist of God,” “Hot Salvation,” “Roar of the Forest Rose to Thunder,” “Jaws of the Lion,” “Bells Dark Above Our Heads,” ad infinitum, to where OMG most certainly lie. “Drones carry my body” • right on.

Tortuga, PO Box 15608, Boston, MA 02215; http://www.tortugarecordings.com


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