It looks like High On Fire isn’t the only Sleep offshoot that has released an album in 2012. Led by Sleep bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros, Om has served as a more introspective counterpart to Matt Pike’s brutal ensemble. In addition to being the group’s fifth full-length studio album, it is the second release to feature drummer Emil Amos in place of retired Dragonaut Chris Hakius.
And Ezekiel Saw The Wheel
While Om’s sound is deeply rooted in doom, it is slightly tricky to classify them as a conventional metal band. The tempos are slow, and riffs are prominent even in the complete absence of an electric guitar, but the meditative atmosphere and incorporation of native instruments suggest additional influence from tribal and ambient music. One could find stylistic similarities to Earth or Cisneros’s own Shrinebuilder, but Om does have a sound of their own.
The pair has also stood out for their extensive use of religious aesthetics, specifically a mix of Christianity and Hinduism with an overall Eastern feel. It’s always hard to tell where the band’s affiliations lie, but the exotic presentation places their songs on a level that is more ethereal than evangelical.
At Lebanon, Priest Ascending
But with these elements to consider, Om’s days of being marketed as a duo may be numbered. The bass guitar and percussion still fantastic, but they aren’t the only noteworthy instruments on here. The string section may be the strongest addition as it fills out the atmosphere and oddly gives things a boost of heaviness. The vocals are also worth mentioning as Cisneros continues to satisfy with his pleasant drone and a female vocalist provides mystical Sanskrit chanting on the opening “Abbis.” The extra contributions may shoo out the minimalism, but they still don’t need a guitar to kick your ass!
It also helps that the songwriting happens to be pretty damn good, even though the five songs use a similar basic approach and have some lengthy moments. “State Of Non-Return” is the easiest track to get into here thanks to its particularly heavy bass/string contrasts. The last three songs also manage to be pretty entertaining as they’re more drawn out tempos, hypnotic vocals, and powerful strings. The closing “Haqq al-Yaqin” and “Gethsemane” may be the best tracks on here thanks to its particularly mesmerizing vocal lines through “Sinai” gets some props for the vague Wino influence.