To make your way in the world of metal takes true determination, and sometimes, if you’re a fatalist, you might believe that a piece of divine inspiration can save bands from the brink of oblivion. Kent quintet OHHMS may just be one such band.
“Four of the five of us used to be in a hardcore band,” begins frontman Paul Waller when asked about the origins of their unique sound, “but we really didn’t like hardcore anymore. We’d split up, but we had never felt that we had made a recording we were happy with. The last song we recorded was really doomy, heavy and repetitive, and we really liked that. We just weren’t feeling it, though, so we shelved it. But I also work as a journalist, and I had a few interviews lined up: one with Michael [Gira] from Swans, one with Steven from Crass [AKA Steve Ignorant] and one with Genesis. Speaking with those guys inspired me so much to run with it and do something. I realised you only get one chance in this life and you need to grab it.”
These conversations not only gave Paul the kick to approach his former bandmates to reconsider their decision, but it gave OHHMS an unusual set of influences with which to try and formulate their music.
“I heard Steve and Michael talk about how they wish they had taken their opportunities earlier in their career and I was just so driven to learn from that,” Paul continues. “I went to the guys and said, ‘Look, we’ve got this heavy song that we all really love. Why don’t we use that as a blueprint; the lyrics of Crass, the weird heaviness of Swans and the proggy parts of Genesis?’ And it’s so weird that they were the three interviews that did it. A week later we had our first practice and we were all just sold on the idea, raring to go.”
The result, after a few well-received EPs, is OHHMS’ debut album, The Fool. Six tracks of monumentally heavy, challenging doom-based metal, but with some soaring melodies, it feels like the start of what could be a very special band in the UK scene, and Paul has ambitions for greatness – not commercially, but artistically.
“I look at bands that we grew up loving,” he muses, “and when they don’t cut it you wonder, ‘How did that happen?’ I’m not going to let that happen to us. I have no ambition about making money or selling records, because you can’t do that now. It’s gone. All I want is to leave a body of work: four, five, six albums, that people listen back to and say, ‘Remember that OHHMS album? Wow!’ That’s our ambition and it should be every band’s ambition.”
THE FOOL IS OUT NOW VIA HOLY ROAR