Over the last five years UK ethereal post-metallers OHHMS have developed into something rather special. 2017’s The Fool was a glorious mix of Floydian textures and Sabbathy doom riffs, but, as good as that album was, Close feels like a massive step forwards, towards a place where OHHMS totally nail their very own sound. That’s not to say this album is a wild venture into a totally new direction, it’s just now the dynamics offer an even greater contrast, making the record heavier yet grander than they have ever sounded.
For example, the massive, open and expansive progressive elements are there on opener Alive (bizarrely, several song titles are taken from Kiss albums), but it soon gives way to a brilliantly grinding groove. Meanwhile, the bulldozing, Iommi-worshipping sludge mixed with the underground punk rock of the members’ past on Asylum does more in 111 seconds than some bands from this genre do in entire albums.
Then there is frontman Paul Waller. Putting in a performance that sits somewhere between the melodic yawn of youthful Ozzy Osbourne, the grizzled, gruff whisper of Scott Kelly from Neurosis and the stark bark of Big Black-era Steve Albini, he gives provides a deep emotional resonance to these songs. Even though you’d be hard-pushed to know exactly what he is referring to on the stunning crescendo that closes Destroyer, his ‘There is no god’ roar is a genuinely unsettling and spinetingling moment.
OHHMS have crept, quietly and stealthily, around the metal scene over the last few years. They’ve been a closely guarded secret for those in the know, but it’s really time that we let the truth out for everyone to see; this is as good a band as this country has produced in a long time, and Close really is far too excellent an album for us all to ignore.
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