Supergroup is a pretty ubiquitous term that I find to be kind of silly. I mean unless you’re a teenager, you will probably form a group with professional musicians. And if you’re a professional musician, you’ve probably played in a band. What’s so super about that?
Austerity Program frontman Justin Foley described Old Man Gloom as “a chimpanzee-themed band that makes Christmas albums” which I think may be a more apt description (although wouldn’t make sense if applied to Asia).
Supergroup would be better applied to something like the FantomasMelvins Big Band which is two four-piece bands combined to form a juggernaut of a seven-piece band, much like the Constructicons.
Toys and etymology aside, Old Man Gloom consists of members Isis, Converge, and Cave In. The whole sounds somewhat like what you’d expect from the sum of their parts, but along with noisy experimental psychedelic tones. There’s also some kind of esoteric simian cult thing going on which I don’t fully understand, but you should check out their fantastic and very redacted bio on their MySpace (I checked. It’s still a thing).
It’s been eight years since they’ve released an album and I’m not sure when they last played a live show. The little documentation I found suggests maybe four years ago and they definitely (there’s video) played NYC 10 years ago. So maybe it really is the end times with Old Man Gloom touring and a new album NO both in the same year.
I caught them in Brooklyn and the show was great. Even after the ten year buildup, they totally exceeded my expectations. They opened with Gift and played for about an hour with a pretty even mix of songs from each album, including three new tunes and a portion of the epic 27-minute Zozobra.
Although this was only a seven-day Northeast tour, there is talk of more live shows in the near future. I don’t think anything was announced but at least it’s something.
And I don’t know if anything’s worth an eight year wait, but NO is definitely a pretty rad album. It’s really heavy with and abrasive rather than melodic. Even the ambient parts are noisier. The guitar sound reminds me of the early Isis EPs (which a perusal of liner notes show were also produced by Kurt Ballou).
In relation to an album’s construction, their writing’s matured a lot. The changes and multilayering on the new songs could have easily been broken into three or four shorter songs on an earlier release. After my first listen, my impression was that it was more straight-up metal and less ambiance. Which seems very silly now after weeks of listening. There’s tons of variety that meshes seamlessly and is therefore less noticeable.There’s not a feeling of the ambient track and the thrash track and the fast track and the slow track. It’s all there though.
Anyway, NO will be released by Hydrahead Records next week. I briefly spoke with guitarist Aaron Turner about the future of the band. He says they hope to be active a little more regularly whatever that entails. As a fan that gives me a little optimism that their sixth album will drop before 2020.
Below is a download to the Christmas Eve I and II + 6 = 3" EP. It was released a little before Christmas on one of those little CDs that won’t play anywhere except in my computer, and the last track always fucks up at the end.
Christmas Eve Part I
A.L.E. Makes Accident, or the Slow Advance of Now Liberated, But Virally Contagious Chimps
Skull of Geronimo (Featuring the vocal stylings of James Randall)
Masami’s Music Box 1
Branch Breaker (Live in NYC)
Masami’s Music Box 2
Christmas Eve Part II
Gratuitous Bonus Track Made by Sensible Musicians Doing Questionable Things