Reviews Om Conference of the Birds

Om

Conference of the Birds

There is little disputing that Sleep was the quintessential stoner metal band. After breaking up due to the band's now infamous falling out with London Records, the members went on to form two bands that are insanely heavy in their own ways. Forming High on Fire, guitarist Matt Pike upped the tempos and the technical ability. Meanwhile, bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius went in the opposite direction with their duo, Om.

The sound of Om is a minimalistic, hypnotic journey to the deepest realms of stoner music. Sleep was more along the bonehead end of the stoner spectrum, spewing forth molasses-thick, snail-paced riffs that simply oozed with THC. This approach is great, and if you want to hear it alive and well, listen to some Electric Wizard, Goatsnake, or Ufomammut.

Om, on the other hand, is something different. Al Cisnero's sludgy bass lines weave effortlessly over Chris Hakius' chilled-out, Sabbathy drumming. And then there are Al Cisnero's haunting vocals. If it wasn't for the fact that his spiritual, meditative lyrics are in English, this could easily be something chanted from the mountaintops by a Tibetan monk. It's hard to say if these guys are still "dropping out of life with bong in hand," but this is psychedelic music in one of its best manifestations. Imagine what Black Sabbath would have sounded like minus all the cheesy bits, leaving behind nothing but that mind-altering groove that has inspired wave after wave of doom, stoner, and sludge bands. This sound, in its purest form, is what propels the music of Om.

Variations on a Theme, Om's previous album, was a great introduction to what Om is all about. It had a great atmosphere, which sounded like you were right there in front of these two guys rocking out in their basement after smoking a nice, heaping bong. The riffs were huge and the drumming was great, yet the album was a little on the repetitive side. Conference of the Birds, however, gets it just right. It has that same wonderful atmosphere, yet it is much more dynamic and it is so captivating that I can listen to it over and over.

The album is made up of two 15-minute mini-epics: "At Giza" and "Flight of the Eagle." "At Giza" is a slight departure from Variations on a Theme. The bass is clean and things start off very mellow. But it doesn't take long before things get huge. There are some booming vocals in "At Giza" that seriously give me goosebumps, and the final culmination of the song is absolutely earth-shaking. "Flight of the Eagle" has more of the sludginess of Variations on a Theme, except the production is a little fuller. All in all, these two songs are some of Om's best output.

Om has a way of stripping down psychedelic rock to its bare essentials, and Conference of the Birds proves they can do this with a minimum amount of monotony. Also, going beyond the music, the aesthetics of both Om albums feel very serene and tranquil. The cover art alone attracted me to this album. Honestly, I never expected there to be an album this hypnotic and uplifting at the same time.

9.3 / 10Tyler
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