Ohmms – Rot – Album Review

Kent-based Ohmms new album, simply titled Rot, continues the band’s evolution from doom/post-metal into something more punk flavoured. It’s an aspect of the band that’s always been there, but usually it comes mixed in with other sprawling, shoegaze style tracks, but on Rot they’re pretty much absent. There’s nothing like the sprawling majesty of ‘The Anchor’ or ‘Subjects’ to be found on this album, with the longest track clocking in at a hair less than 7 minutes in length.

Kicking things off, the cover art for Rot is a lovely old school tribute, with bloody and gory imagery in a faux Amazing Stories or old school grindhouse comic style; a strong statement of intent that the band’s love of the the more punky end of things is front and centre here. There’s less of the grunge and calls for animal activism in this album, replaced instead with short, sharp doses of harsh-edged metal.

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After a brief intro that suggests listeners are enjoying this particular album on cassette (though the album isn’t available for pre-order on cassette on the band’s Bandcamp page) and claims we’re about to listen something brought to life by “endless waves of brutality and screams”, we’re into opening track ‘Let’s Scare Jessica to Death’ which is a pretty strong and downbeat opener, with Paul Waller’s strident vocals lending real power to the chorus.

Track three, ‘Eaten Alive’, opens up with powerful vocals over a pounding drumbeat and wailing, distorted guitars. It’s immediately obvious to fans of the band that this isn’t going to be like their previous offerings, with a harsher edge to the vocals and the guitars that veers more towards the punk end of things.

Unfortunately after this it all becomes a bit… forgettable. Even after multiple listens to this album, none of is leaves much of a lasting impression. You would have hoped that an album with titles like ‘Blood Feast’, ‘Body Melt’ and ‘Swamp Thing’ would be a little more memorable but it’s all just so… fine. It’s not terrible, it’s a perfectly competent album, with occasional flashes of something interesting such as the tail end of ‘Swamp Thing’ which suddenly goes all Toto’s Dune soundtrack on us, but for the most part it never rises beyond the status of “Yeah. That’s alright, I guess”.

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Other than track one, the only other track that really stands out is number six, ‘A Dark Song’, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s a fairly decent tune until the last minute or so when it suddenly morphs into this atonal, out of tune dirge which is likely to have listeners reaching for the next track button. In Ohhms’ catalogue, at least for me, this is one of their less compelling offerings. I’m more likely to go and listen to previous offerings Close, or Exist, before sticking this one on again.

The songs seem simpler in terms of their lyrical and instrumental construction than previous offerings, and stylistically this album has moved a little further towards other bands such as Heriot and Black Sky Giant, so if that’s the sort of thing you’re into, then you’ll find a lot to like here. As for me? I doubt this one is going to make it onto many playlists.

Rot is out on 31st March from Church Road Records.

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