Reviews Om Advaitic Songs

Om

Advaitic Songs

Om is one of those offshoot bands that wound up better than it had any right to be. Borne from the ashes of stoner metal giant Sleep, Om managed to create a two-piece band whose hypnotic tunes were much more powerful than they would appear on the surface. What could a band really do with just a rhythm section? Yet, somehow, this two-piece is still going strong, and they released their fifth studio album, Advaitic Songs, earlier this year.

In some ways, the band haven't changed much at all. Advaitic Songs has all of the hallmarks of traditional Om albums: it has the long, droning compositions, the minimalist drum n' bass groundwork, the not-quite-monotone chant-like vocals, and, of course, the sense of musicality that floats somewhere in between psychedelia and stoner metal.

But what makes Advaitic Songs so compelling is what has changed in the band over time: namely, the heightened influence from traditional Eastern music. Om borrow heavily from traditional Arabic and Tibetan music, chant especially. The main result of these influences is to lend a much more melodic composition to the album. This stands in stark comparison to their early works like Conference of the Birds or Variations on a Theme, notable for the near absence of obviously melodic components. Though the music is still, naturally, quite repetitive, these influences allow the band to explore types of writing much more diverse than they had open before.

The influence by traditional eastern music also helps to emphasize the band's much-pronounced fetish for Christian themes, even though it'd be a mistake to call them a Christian rock band. Their interest seems to be rooted more in the Arabic origins of the religion than its modern incarnation—you won't have to worry about over-indulgent sessions of masturbatory Christ-praising here. In fact, despite the cover art, the album's title itself seems to point more towards Hindu belief than Christian. It seems like the band is much more interested in religion itself than any proselytizing any particular variety. The music is much more reverent than revering of anything in particular.

What is most appealing about this album, however, is how emotional it is. More impressive is that Om don't rely on the usual set of Western music tropes to bring this about. It's not cathartic by virtue of its powerful crescendos (of which there are none) or its intensely melodic writing (of which there is also none), yet somewhere in the repetition and the droning, Om manage to draw the emotion out from their listeners. It feels almost the same as the high from a religious service.

Basically, fans of the band already will eagerly eat Advaitic Songs album up, as it's another strong release from a strong band. If you haven't heard Om before, it won't be what you expect to hear, but if you give them a chance, you'll be happily surprised.

Recommended if you enjoy: Sleep, Horseback, chant music

8.0 / 10Sarah
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