Close is the latest album from a lil band called Ohhms who hail from the wilds of Kent here in England, and you might have never heard of them. I certainly hadn’t prior to hearing this album, but you can definitely list me among their fans now. If I had to describe them, I’d say they remind me a little of bands like PSOTY, Russian Circles or We Lost the Sea, with thick, meaty riffs and sprawling, raucous melodies.
They’re what you might describe as “post metal” if you’re looking for a label to put on them, and that’s a genre that covers a whole lot of ground, like the handful of bands listed above. It’s not quite thrash, not quite doom, not quite black or even operatic but it can have aspects of all the above. Post metal albums could be accused of navel gazing, featuring “prog rock” style concepts, more abstract lyrics and rhythms and tracks that tend to be rather lengthy. If you like your metal a bit more introspective, a bit more instrument-driven than vocals, this genre could be for you.
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But we’re not here to dissect a genre as a whole (that’s a whole other article right there), we’re here to talk about Ohhms, so let’s look at their back catalogue before we delve into the bang up-to-date. They’ve had three albums before this and they are Bloom (2014), The Fool (2017) and Exist (2018), and these other albums sometimes contain only two tracks, each one a gargantuan near-20 minute aural journey. Listening to the opening track of Close it’s quickly obvious they’ve come a long way since opening track ‘Bad Seeds’ from Bloom.
Close opens with the melodic bassline and somewhat wistful tones of ‘Alive’. Slow and thoughtful at first, this is nothing but a cunning trap to lure listeners in before the scream of a guitar and the vocals crash in at around the 1:40 mark and the song becomes a very different and much angrier animal indeed.
Following it up, ‘((Flaming Youth))’ is another odd little track, opening with vocals which again put me in mind of the Akira soundtrack. After the crunch and roar of track one, this is a soft and whimsical affair, an ethereal daydream of musical musings that ends with a little flourish of the bass.
Track 3 – ‘Revenge’ – and those harsh, almost screaming vocals are right back again, driving the longest track of this album, clocking in at 9:10. It’s a mostly instrumental affair, something good to stick on in the background, exactly the kind of track I look for when I’m working and need to focus on what I’m doing. It’s a simple melody, shifting between big, crunching riffs and plucked strings.
Track 4 – ‘((Strange Ways))’ – and I have no idea why some of the titles are in double brackets and some of them aren’t. Any thoughts, people of the internet? This is a funny, dissonant little track, almost chaotic in places. It almost serves as little more than an extended intro for track 5 – ‘Destroyer’. This one is all big riffs and thundering drums as lead vocalist Paul Waller screams “There is no God, there’s only Gods”. It’s got a great video to accompany it as well (which you can find on Youtube).
Track 6 – Asylum – is a short, sweet little number and my personal favourite of the album. It’s an almost martial, marching-style affair. The vocals here are harsh and distorted to begin with before the tempo suddenly shifts around halfway through. This one has my favourite lyrics – “They’re coming to take us away! They’re going to do this again! They’re coming to take us away my friend and there’s no-one else left to blame.” Perhaps a subtle callback to Martin Nemoller’s now iconic poem about persecution and guilt that begins – “First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist”?
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We wrap things up with Track 7 – ‘Unplugged’, which starts off with a near Iron Maiden-esque wailing guitar and lovely, heavily distorted bass sound before crashing into something almost triumphant that sounds like it might have escaped from a Tool practice session. The lyrics here talk about giving up everything for another chance at… what? So many possibilities with that title.
Of the four albums released by Ohhms, this one is my favourite and a strong entry into their catalogue. It’s a bit more accessible than the two-track epic of something like Bloom, offering a mix of styles to ensure it never gets too samey as can sometimes happen with this sort of instrument-heavy music. Is it worth streaming? Definitely. Is it worth buying? Also definitely. Hopefully, once this all shakes out and things calm down, I’ll get the chance to see them play live. I think they’ll put on a hell of a show.
Close is out on 26th June from Holy Roar Records.