Old Man Gloom is a Sludge Metal outfit that, among others, features members of renowned bands such as ISIS and Converge.
After pulling a prank on the media by giving out a “fake” copy of their latest record The Ape of God in order to avoid leaks, the actual album is out since yesterday, Nov. 11th.
The songs that have been on the album that was giving out to the media are on the actual album too, but there are four more songs on there that haven’t been known to the media or public up until the official release date.
Just like many other people, I listened to the leak first and even though I liked what I heard, I felt like something was wrong. The album felt less cohesive and it really gave me the impression that I’m only looking at a part of the whole picture.
Luckily it turned out that there was more to come and now that the whole album is up for streaming I gave it a few listens to come up with a conclusion on it.
The first thing I realized about this album is that the song length varies a lot more compared to their previous records. On The Ape of God we have a few tracks that don’t, or just barely, reach the three minute mark. Those songs usually bring around a punkier sound, like the track Fist of Fury, which features a typical punk drumbeat.
A shift in their sound that I welcome is a slight change in Aaron Turner’s vocal delivery, he made some subtle changes to it, using more lows in some parts or putting a bit more of his voice into his shouts. I also believe that he provided all the screams and yells they feature in some of the ambient parts, as well as the spoken word parts in the song A Hideous Nightmare Lie Upon the World.
Another change to their previous records is the way the band uses ambient and atmospheric elements. On NO you had these deep and massive rumbles, that really made you feel like you’re stuck between two tectonic plates grinding against each other, but overall the vibe those ambient parts gave off was pretty neutral.
On The Ape of God the ambient/atmospheric parts are just pure darkness and suffering. The track After You’re Dead rings out into those tortured screams and at the end of Promise you have those haunting layers of synths ringing out into the void.
When the band kicks in though, you’ll be in for a ride. Crushing, distorted riffs and pummeling drums will knock you around mercilessly. The first half of the song Predators will get your head banging, guitar riffs repeated like mantras layered over melodic synths make this song one of the best on the entire album. Around the middle it starts to ring out into an ambient part that paints a desolate image with only a few notes ringing out into the distance accompanied by distored, crackling sounds and a few eerie wailing sounds, which I believe to be strings.
Old Man Gloom know their virtues and stick to them. Compared to NO, The Ape of God has more character and a better balance of heaviness and ambient parts. The only complaints I have is that it feels less cohesive and that the song A Hideous Nightmare Lie Upon the World leaves me uncertain if they went a bit overboard in some places or if it hit the right spot with the theme of the song and its execution.