Often conceived, and just as often rightly interpreted as mere excuses to get away from their spouses, ‘supergroups’ frequently fail to add up to more than the sum of their parts, as anyone unfortunate enough to have had to endure bank holiday family trips to the coast soundtracked by Traveling Wilburys Vol 3 will understand.
Conceived in the Santa Fe, New Mexico desert just prior to the turn of the century, Old Man Gloom have never been such a case. Instead, over the course of their 15-year history, they’ve proved to be exponentially and cosmically greater than the sum of their parts, seeming to channel through their previous five full-lengths some greater simian superpower to create music not just far outside of themselves and their day jobs, but far outside of the easily definable parameters of metal itself.
The core quartet of Aaron Turner (ex-Isis), Nate Newton (Converge), Caleb Scofield (Cave In) and Santos Montana (Zozobra) left eight years between the vast, brain-bludgeoning sonic collage of 2004’s Christmas and its follow-up, the cryptically titled No, so it proves a somewhat of a surprise that The Ape Of God has appeared a mere two years later. And yet The Ape Of God is no rush job – fearing that Old Man Gloom may have nothing new to say is missing the point entirely. The almost Dadaist approach to subject matter that has underlined their careers is still prevalent, yet whether as a result of an Isis-less Turner seeking a more visceral project than the likes of the more ambient Mamiffer and Jodis, The Ape Of God might just stand as the group’s most relentlessly punishing and direct effort to date. Opener Fist Of Fury is a two-minute blast of grinding noise and almost d-beat percussion whereas later Shoulder Meat, although comparatively lethargic in pace, is a nine-minute exercise in crushing dynamics and morosely heavy atmosphere. Elsewhere, the brief yet oddly melodic and epic-reaching Simian Dei brings back shades of their magnum opus Seminar II and Panopticon-era Isis – as does closer Arrows To Our Hearts, if the original was recorded by Whitehouse. ‘Ham’ and ‘Enos’ would most certainly be proud.
Via Profound Lore Records