Old Man Gloom – Christmas

Old Man Gloom

Three years in the making, Christmas is the triumphant return of the Old Man Gloom Simian Alien Defense League, which features members of Isis, Converge, and Cave In. This is the fifth full-length release from these noise mongers, but I haven’t heard an entire album other than this one, so I really don’t have anything to compare it to.

Christmas is one of those oh-so-rare heavy albums that manages to be as weird as it wants to be but maintains a listenable quality based on diversity and cohesion. The majority of the album is actually a combination of the art-noise-metal of Isis, the textures of Converge, and the spacey elements of newer Cave In. All of these elements seem to be pretty different, but the OMG crew pull it off with flying colors.

One thing that is kind of strange about this album is that there are quite a few parts of electronic noise. The only problem I have with this is that these parts tend to be sectioned off by themselves and contained within their own tracks rather than being fully integrated with the metal. If you listen to the album from beginning to end, however, it’s harder to notice that the electronic sequences are a separate intity.

A few parts of “‘Tis Better to Receive” have a Black Sabbath vibe to it, but definitely muscled up quite a bit. My favorite of the electronic interludes is definitely “Accord-O-Matic,” with its organic noises and textures, including an actual accordian part that is pulled off extremely successfully. “Volcano” shows the bands ability to write a seven-plus-minute song and keep the listener grooving the whole time, while “Skullstorm” stands in at a mere 45 seconds but manages to kick your ass in that small amount of time.

Diversity is definitely the order of the day for Old Man Gloom, but these folks manage to keep a balanced diet with a large amount of cohesion. To receive the maximum output of this album, crank your stereo to 11 and listen to the whole album. Particularly stick around for the second half of the disc, because things really pick up after track 8.