Kent progressive post-metallers Ohhms are on the cusp of releasing their latest album Close; initially conceived of as the final part in a trilogy of works that began with 2014’s Bloom and was followed by Cold in 2015, Close does exactly that, coming full circle and is their most introspective work yet.
With its mellow beginnings, all laconic drums and clean guitar, one thing opener ‘Alive!’ does well is to invite a false sense of security as after its first minute or so the tectonic plates shift and riffs crash in along with a raw, emotional performance from vocalist Paul Waller (“You can’t get no satisfaction from this song / There ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”).
Despite its exclamatory title, ‘Alive!’, along with Close as a whole, very much lives within post-metal, sludgy soundscapes, featuring huge slabs of sound with rough vocals somewhat reminiscent of Cathedral, though the album also takes cues from doom forefathers Black Sabbath with some truely blues-soaked moments.
Followup ‘((Flaming Youth))’ is a much more serene, airy and calm affair after the catharsis of before, acting to pacify before the nine minute epic ‘Revenge’, closing out Side A crashes down with gargantuan grooves and cutting vocal lines (“I don’t know if I ever felt safe / But if this burden is my reward / For surviving your creed and surviving my youth / Then I’ll hand this prize straight back to you”). Final track ‘Unplugged’ dials it up to eleven, accelerating quickly out the gate before almost immediately pulling back and allowing a moment solitude to wash over then the waves crash down once more, with colossal, soaring vocal melodies atop the storm, before this too fades away and the album ends as it began, with a quiet moment for introspection to consider what came before.
Ohhms make frequent use of lighter passages or interludes - the opening of Side B is the brief ‘((Strange Ways))’ - that gives a reprieve from the catharsis, allowing brief moments to gather your thoughts between surges of raw emotion. Despite the heavy tone and emotional vulnerability, it’s an album that leaves as serenely as it enters; not a brutal, crushing assault but a cathartic experience that bears its soul, hollowing itself out but allowing for a glimmer of hope in the darkness.