Om - Advaitic Songs review
02. State Of Non-Return
05. Haqq Al-Yaqin
I'm not really all that into doom metal, but lately I've been discovering several bands that have really piqued my interest with their unique twists on the genre's sound (Yob, Evoken, Esoteric, to name a few). Now I'm not exactly one to judge an album by its cover, but when I saw an album called Advaitic Songs by a band called Om that had a portrait of John the Baptist for the artwork, that inner voice in the back of my head told me that I was in for some truly interesting music. I had high expectations just from looking at the album, and my expectations were met.
Om are not your average doom metal band, plain and simple. If you want to get really specific about it (which I know many Metal Stormers do) I suppose you could refer to their style, at least on this album, as "Oriental Doom Metal," because it sounds like just that: a fusion of doom metal with Middle Eastern folk music. Advaitic Songs kicks off with "Addis," and right away, like being submerged in a dream, the listener is plunged into an intricate web of Hebrew(?) chants, a cello, a piano, and an underlying bass line. It cannot be overestimated how much the piano and the cello help to shape the overall sound and "feel" of the album. Since Om write very (guess, kiddies) spiritual lyrics, focusing upon otherworldly realities and the nature of the soul, in a way the piano and the cello help add to this vibe. After all, would one commonly expect these two instruments to be featured in a doom metal band? No, and this unorthodox approach helps accentuate the mysterious vibe of the band's lyrical themes.
Epic! Yes, that's the word for Advaitic Songs, and by going for an interesting balance between doom and folk metal, Om are sure to please fans of both. The folklore-ish, historical lyrics, as well as the instrumentation to accompany them, are there ("And Ezekiel saw the wheel/Prana exits toward the azure locus/On vrittiless path he walks/Contemplative ascends," from "Gethsamene," for example) and yet the heavy, memorable riffs of doom metal that we all know and love are as well. The cello/bass outro to "State Of Non-Return," the rhythm around 8 minutes into "Gethsamene," and the drum patterns at the beginning of "Haqq Al-Yaqin," in particular, have been stuck in my head ever since first listening to the album.
In essence, Om run circles around many other doom bands that go for the typical droney, monotonous approach to their music. The cello, piano, and Middle-Eastern chants give the album a refreshingly unique atmosphere that I haven't yet heard any other doom metal band replicate. Is this strange style of "Doom Folk Metal" a new spin on the genre that Om are developing? It's a possibility, and I for one would certainly like to see the band take it farther. This original approach that Om take to the genre from which they come has easily made Advaitic Songs, at least in my book, the doom metal album of 2012. Play it loud guys.
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