Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First Listen: Om, God is Good

Om is one of my favorite rock and roll stories. They started as two-thirds of stoner rock band Sleep, who in 1998 made the ultimate stoner rock album, Dopesmoker. (It didn't see release in its intended form - a single astonishing 63-minute slow-burning song - until 2003.) After the trio broke up, bassist/singer Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius reformed as Om, without guitarist Matt Pike. In fact, without a guitar player at all.

They still make stoner metal. It's still low and slow and full of drug imagery. Only now, they do it without guitars - just bass and drums. God is Good is the first Om album since Hakius was replaced by Emil Amos, yet despite 50 percent of their membership changing, the band sounds much the same.

This album has a few more bells and whistles, including some flute and some tamboura. But again it's long songs, monotone vocals, and slow, creeping grooves. And it's still unlike anything else out there. If you can take minimal instrumentation, minimal melody and minimal variation, then this will put you into the best kind of trance. It's mesmerizing.

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