If OHHMS used the tarot, which serves as an inspiration for their newest full-length, to tell their fortune, it would reveal that their future is a bright one.
Following the Bloom and Cold EPs, released in 2014 and 2015 respectively, comes The Fool; a 60-minute bone-crushing and psychedelic experience that showcases this Kent-based act harnessing and pushing their unique sound to the brink. Elements of doom, stoner metal, sludge and psychedelic rock converge on this massive release, subjecting the listener to gargantuan riffs, memorable hooks and surprising stylistic shifts. It’s a doom record that respectfully takes cues from its contemporaries, but urges to be different at the same time.
Acoustic guitars and airy ambiance opens the record on a calm note in “Shuffle, Cut and Reveal” before “The Magician” stampedes through the gates and wreaks sludgy havoc. Steamrolling guitar riffs come barreling out of the starting line and flatten the listener under their insurmountable weight, while cataclysmic drum work finishes the job by pulverizing them into dust. The track switches methods of attack several times throughout its eight-minute duration, ensuring that listener’s are kept on edge the entire time. Chugging verses, sprawling stoner groove, dissonant breakdowns spliced with intermittent angular riffs and shoegaze-esque melodies are just a few of things to expect on this multifaceted track. All the while, vocalist Paul Waller delivers a commanding performance with his eclectic blend of Viking warrior shouts, traditional doom bellows and gruff yells.
Thunderous percussion builds unshakable tension as melodic guitars layered in dense atmospheres tower overhead during the first few minutes of “The Hanged Man”. Then the lumbering, 13-minute tune gives way into mid-paced, skull-caving sludge riffs that are propelled by Waller’s gravelly shout. The track then weaves in-and-out of interludes of quiet melancholia and barrages of bestial sludge and doom before ending in a colossal, melodic funeral dirge. Subsequent track “The World”, in contrast, is rather unrelenting in its aggression. Here OHHMS deal out as much gritty, earth-shaking instrumentation as possible to ensure listeners leave missing a few teeth. But the band’s penchant for hooks shines through in even the most destructive of moments as “The World” caps off its nearly seven-minute runtime with a memorable, melodic climax.
Just when the listener think they have The Fool figured out, OHHMS throw yet another sonic curveball at them titled “The Lovers”. This eight-minute tune features stripped-down instrumentation that revolves around cyclical guitar riffs and percussion and tranquil atmospheres. Here Waller duets with guest vocalist Sienna Holihan, showcasing a jarring contrast between his gruff cleans and her angelic, fluttering croons. This track gives the listener some breathing room before the album’s final and most ambitious composition brings everything to a close.
The Fool is concluded by a 22-minute leviathan titled “The Hierophant”. Songs of this tremendous length can either make or break an album, often falling prey to meandering paces and boring repetition. Luckily, “The Hierophant” avoids these pitfalls by remaining engaging throughout. The song begins with over six-minutes of guitar-generated drone and noise before the band initiates a slow-burning, triumphant doom march. As the song progresses, the band utilize just enough repetition to establish a hypnotic sense of groove, lulling the listener into a false sense of security before sporadically dishing out unpredictable rhythmic shifts and jarring guitar riffs that shake everything off balance. The track is so well constructed that the listener will get lost in its various twist and turns, forgetting that it is nearly a half-hour long.
60-minutes comes and goes fairly swiftly as listeners are enthralled by witnessing OHHMS traverse the waters of doom and sludge in their own way. The Fool is the culmination of three years of sonic refinement, resulting in a doom album that remains faithful to the pedigree, but disregards convention in favor of innovation. Fans of all things slow and low should not let this record slip by them.
Release Date: March 31, 2017
Label: Holy Roar Records
Favorite Tracks: “The Magician” and “The Hierophant”
For Fans Of: Opium Lord, Ufomammut, Khemmis and Minsk