THIS IS A FAKE REVIEW!!
Old Man Gloom sent out a fake version of the album to the reviewers in order to avoid the actual albums (yeah that’s right! Albums!) from leaking before the release date. So what can I say? The Gloom and The Ape got me. Still, in order to showcase the degree of my ignorance I am posting the review as I first wrote when I believed this to be the actual release. But you know me, always looking at the positive side: a couple of weeks ago I was listening to one Old Man Gloom album but soon enough I will be listening to two. My grasp on reality might have been shattered but I am looking forward to this.
When I was first listening to Seminar III: Zozobra, I remember being stunned with what was coming through the speakers. That was how I got introduced to the music of Old Man Gloom. At that time they already had put out other albums as well. Their debut full-length, Meditations In B, and Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivism Regressionism were both excellent. And then Christmas would come along and the band would go to a whole different level. Their noise parts and ambient bits alongside the sludge self of the band were a recipe for success. Unfortunately after Christmas, Old Man Gloom remained silent for eight years. But the drought ended with No, an absolutely brilliant and furious release that marked the rejuvenation of the band. Luckily for us, the band did not take that long to release the follow up to No, entitled The Ape of God. Out on Profound Lore, Old Man Gloom’s latest album is just as good as everything they have put out there in their long career.
The basis of Old Man Gloom always was their heavy guitar work. The sludge riffs go to an unbelievable extent in order for the band to make their point. And once again with Kurt Ballou of Converge acting as the producer for the album, you know that what you are getting in terms of sound. The guitar sound in songs such as “Simia Dei” is just epic, while the great mid-tempo groove of the band in other instances, such as “Predators” and “The Lash,” aids greatly the band. Throw in there the great progression of “Shoulder Meat” with the sound getting bigger and stronger, and on the other end a song such as “Arrows to Our Hearts,” the last part of which is a clinic in repetitive madness, and you get everything you would have asked for. But Old Man Gloom are also masters in incorporating parts of their guitar work in the background of the songs. Under the thick wall of sound, present in “Predators,” the band hides hooks all over the place. While in other instances things might take a turn for the more dissonant, something that occurs in “Promise.” Songs like “The Lash” and “Arrows to Our Hearts” might be great on their own, but that guitar bits in the background are just getting them on a different level.
Of course the other major aspect of Old Man Gloom is their noise side. The way in which these guys are able to incorporate it in their music is absolutely twisted, because they can as easily have noise on its own, as is the case with parts of “Predators,” or use it as an additional element within the structure of their song. The opening song integrates noise perfectly in order to bring a stronger, more disturbing ambiance for the band, while “Shoulder Meat” manages to bring forth an almost dystopian atmosphere. In “Never Enter” on the other hand, Old Man Gloom just go head on and turn everything into chaos, laughing as your brain melts away. And that is the key here. The members of this act are great when it comes to bringing in sonic experimentation and strange sounds. The noise and effects in “Shoulder Meat” are constantly evolving, especially about seven minutes onwards in the song, what they are doing is completely out of this world in terms of sonic dissonance. In a similar manner they explore the soundscapes of “Arrows to Our Hearts.” All this gives some different flavors to the band’s ambiance and façade, from the more imposing atmosphere of “Simia Dei” and “Promise” to the straight out horrific vibe of “Arrows to Our Hearts.”
What I found really interesting in this release though is how the vibe of certain songs would change. Funnily enough, The Ape of God starts off with utterly ruthless aggression when “Fist of Fury” comes in. From that point on the band also comes two songs, such as “Never Enter,” which have an almost punk/hardcore vibe to them. On the other hand “Shoulder Meat,” one of the longest tracks of the album, does have something of the later days of Isis to it, in a more twisted form though. The inclusion of some clean vocals in the closing track of the album, “Arrows to Our Hearts,” also brings forth that element of Old Man Gloom. And that is one hell of a closing track by the way, with the band constantly building towards something that never actually comes. You are expecting for the song to explode in heavy riffs and noise but it instead dies out just at the right time.
Old Man Gloom have been quite diverse throughout the years and why should they change that now. The Ape of God stands alone, as all their previous work does, and is an album that you will listen to again and again.
Original Score: 8.2/10
OK, now that my grip on reality has more or less returned to normal, I have been able to experience the full impact of both albums from Old Man Gloom. As was said earlier the band decided to give a sampler of sorts to the media in order to avoid the actual albums from leaking. The song versions on the “fake” album were of course different from the actual versions with the ambient parts tailored to the “fake” album. The biggest difference being “The Lash” that was a towering seven minutes long song, of which the press version included only three minutes.
The first four of “The Lash” minutes sees the band constructing the ambiance of the track, with their noise inputs and some distorted guitars at large tearing holes through reality. The huge drones suffocate the listener with their slow movements and when the drums come in the stage is set for Old Man Gloom to unleash their heavy riffs and sickening concepts.
Now since Old Man Gloom have decided to cause a bit of confusion with this album, let me explain. Two albums were produced. Got it? Six of the eight songs from the first album (The Ape of God I) were chosen along with two of the four from the second album (The Ape of God II). They were then processed and put on a sampler for the media. Let’s call the press version The Ape of God III. Shit that does sound like a math equation. Anyway, to make things even more complicated I have decided not to review The Ape of God I and The Ape of God II, but to hereby name a new album (The Ape of God IV) with the remaining tracks from the two albums and review that instead. That is right Gloom! That is what you have done to me, causing me to arbitrarily create new albums and stuff. Looks like my grip on reality was not as firm as I would have hoped so…
THIS ALSO IS A FAKE REVIEW!!
“Eden’s Gates” kicks things off with an unearthly ambiance, creating a very dense background for the band. What has always been the case for Old Man Gloom still applies here. Following the intro of the track, the noise and effects do not leave the song but continue to evolve in parallel to it, always remaining just a step away on the background. When the music takes a step back the noise is ready to fill the hole, creating a constantly shifting sonic texture that Old Man Gloom experiment with.
In a similar way the band navigates “After You’re Dead,” with the noise this time round getting a bit more intruding when that is necessary. The noise is an intricate part of the act’s sound and they make full use of it. Especially the ending part of the song with the more abstract feeling is a menace, bringing forth a dystopian ambiance as cymbals are being hit and screams are being uttered. Both “Eden’s Gates” and “After You’re Dead” carry the same ferocious vibe that most songs from The Ape of God I had, like “Fist of Fury,” Never Enter” and “Promise.” The riffs are heavy, the leads are insane and the songs are addictive.
“A Hideous Nightmare Lies Upon The World” comes from The Ape of God II, and the song itself has a quite scary vibe about it. Even the way the noise is creeping in the track has a quite daunting tone about. The thundering drums come in with the clean guitars and the samples on the background are making things even more tense. The way that the repetitive melodies are implemented in this case is absolutely mesmerizing but the band still undertakes other forms. Punishing riffs come in often enough to establish the band’s horrific vision and the manner in which the ending part unfolds is just unbelievable. Especially in terms of how energetic the band sounds.
Still nothing can prepare you for “Burden.” The piercing noise at the start of the song is promising a lot and the band does delivers it all in this instance. Blinks of sound are squashing your ear drums as the band builds up and waves of noise come your way. A towering embodiment of all that encompass Old Man Gloom soon follows as the mid tempo drums are laying the foundations of the song and then an almost infernal aspect of the band is brought forth. That is where the real fun begins. The steady riffing is tearing your face off with the lead parts having a disgusting sound to them. Sludge collides with noise, with the vocals on top, distorted and deep, as the circling guitars are being introduced and the insane effects keep hovering over your head until the song is deconstructed.
In my mind, my deranged mind after the Old Man Gloom debacle, two “fake” reviews makes a “true” review. But in all seriousness, The Ape of God I is a really great album. The majority of the songs have a more furious and straightforward approach to them. On the other hand there are no words in which The Ape of God II can even be described. Through its forty-something minutes, it is arguably the best work that this band has produced. And that on its own is quite something.
9.1 / 10
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