A few months ago, there was complete uproar in the city of Boston with rumors of Old Man Gloom returning to grace us not only with a new album, but a precious few live appearances. These shows were, of course, packed and/or sold out. As a Greater Boston resident, myself, I’m none too pleased that I missed out on an opportunity to see OMG live – an especially rare occurrence. At these shows, too, were the only available pre-release copies of their long awaited follow-up to Christmas, released in 2004, No.
Released to the rest of the public on June 26th via guitarist/vocalist’s own DIY venture Hydra Head Records, listeners from all over the country, and world, can revisit the otherworldly sludge-trodden, doom drenched post-rock they had fallen in love with years ago. Not much has changed in Old Man Gloom’s sound, and to most that’s a point of relief. All too often iconic acts like OMG are put on a pedestal and beaten down once it’s been discovered they’ve strayed from the voice they’d lent in years (and in this case nearly a decade) past. No, No seems to pick up just about where the band had left off with their last album – with a few minor tweaks here and there, of course.
This isn’t to say that No is at all redundant, nor is it dated. With the myriad of other acts this band has circling its proverbial orbit (Isis, Converge, Cave In, Zozobra, Doomriders, Twilight, etc. and so on), it would only make sense that this one project would be a designated outlet for specific sounds and ventures. Listening to the album, it’s almost as if the band had never disappeared, never left us wondering, hoping, guessing. No is harkening to the past, and reminding us of what we fell in love with about the band to begin with.
Still, there’s something to be said of progression; these songs, while of course reminiscent of Old Man Gloom releases past, still cater to the decade, the generation, at hand. Old dogs they’re not – each member has been an active member in one project or another spanning the career of OMG, so naturally new tricks are in order. Abundantly apparent is the use of droning, ambient – and at times, jarring – breaks and segue ways. Jesu-esque at times, cut up to temper the mellow with ferocious barks and keenly places sounds akin to that of nails on a chalkboard.
There’s definite heart to No; undeniable, and welcomed. There is nothing “half-assed” to this release, not that such a travesty would be expected. Old Man Gloom has done right by us once again. Clearly painstaking hours went into making this album come into existence, and those efforts are not lost on this listener. I can only imagine I’m one of many who feel the same.