Canterbury Prog Stoners OHHMS bring their first full length release The Fool. While the band have two mighty EP’s under their belt, it’s this first album that shows the tangible quality they give to monolithic soundscapes and thick riffs. This time round, the concept comes from tarot interpretation, all the while dealing with social constructs and issues bigger than ourselves. Buckle up, it’s a bumpy ride.
Shuffle, Cut and Reveal is serene and tranquil, it’s a nice acoustic opener, unusual but nonetheless, actually a decent build track for what comes next. At only just over a minute, it’s just enough to tease you before The Magician. A heavy, chugging, battering track. Shouted-sung lyrics are easy to imagine many a man shouting along at a gig or festival. Nothing too complex in the initial, but some nice changes in tempo to lock into that deep, bass heavy sound. The Hanged Man, starts with a pattering sound, like static or rain, a slight groaning of strings that is just on the edge of orchestral droning. Before long the full swing of the track announces itself, in an uplifting chorus of guitars and a snappy drumline. Once again, belting vocals keep a good tone through the gruff features. It’s something like MASTODON in that regard, but the feel overall is more like YOB in terms of it’s powerhouse attitude towards sound. There’s something of BLACK SABBATH in there too, for the drive these guys have.
Our tone then changes, becomes more reflective, and sedate for a moment. It’s a break on a cold sweat before a head banging tune, full of big sounds, this track just gets a while lot bigger. More vocals, more guitar, more tone, more drums smashing away. The constant time signature changes make the song feel fresh, and it’s definitely more audio-storytelling here than just a song. OHHMS are really pushing the edges of their sound on this record, making the most of what they had and adding to it tenfold. This track ebbs and waves into a really well thought out piece that is engaging and emotive.
The World becomes a little more abstract, fully embracing the Stone Prog feel. It’s sludgy in places, which is great, and flecked with little intricacies here and there that bring it to life. To juxtapose that, there’s some really lovely sound scaping that breezes in right at the end, which some might find jarring but overall is a great addition to the track. The Lovers takes a more laidback approach, once again demonstrating OHHMS’ range. It’s very chilled, with as little fuss as possible, but resonating a warmth rather than a distorted brutality. Simplistic, elegant, and adding variety which is never a bad ting.
The Hierophant echoes in over the penultimate notes of the previous songs, a long wait on the resonance or affects pedals and trippy touches. Ghostly lyrics carry in over the fuzz; There’s no need to rush, no need to hurry. There is a ringing, a rising note that feels like elevation, and without the build-up of the rest of this album might be too ambient for some. However, as the guitars creek back into life, you can understand the feeling they’re going for as the melody finally comes to life. Once that little trip is over, some Stoner magic happens. If music could demonstrate feelings, this one evokes the feeling of being roasted under it’s blunt, churning intensity. Imagine the feeling of true heat, of walking through the desert bare foot, begin dry and hot right through to your bones. Imagine the intensity of that, and this track is that feeling in musical form. It’s a pretty abstract tune, and long at that, coming in at over twenty minutes, but if you can wade through it, it’s a worthwhile journey for some ace riffs and overall skill at keeping a momentum.
In a monumental effort, OHHMS have produced an album with memorability and weight, both in it’s experimental sound scopes and it’s dense tone. The overall feeling coming out of the back of this record is one of elation, and most definitely a highlight this year for any fans of Stoner Prog or experimental Metal music.
The Fool is set for release on March 31st via Holy Roar Records.
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