Variations On A Theme
posted on 1/2005 By:
Who knew you could achieve such a full sound with only bass and drums? Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius did, presumably through their work with the immense and highly respected Californian band, Sleep. Along with Justin Marler and High On Fire's Matt Pike, they epitomized and helped realize modern Sabbath-inspired doom. As eluded to before, OM is the new project of Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius, and it's baffling how they've managed to achieve what they do on Variations on a Theme with just a bass and drums.
Three tracks, 45 minutes. While the absence of guitar may prove daunting to a few prospective listeners out there, OM's groovy and repetitive execution compensates completely. With their continuous mid-range chant, the band could effortlessly be linked back to their former flock. The consistent and full bass wholly embraces the idea of maintaining order through the brilliant mesmerization achieved through keeping things simple yet so heavy. The plodding and destructively anodyne drumming nearly accomplishes a level of cruelty in how unquestionably calculated it is. Each of the three songs feels like a part of a long and epic travel. OM's lethargic renditions seem to serve as a benefactor to this idea, and not a hinderance, which I'm sure comes as no shock to anyone out there who's been following the work of these two.
It's sort of difficult to review an album which has, ironically, so little variation. To doom-enthusiasts like myself, this isn't anything close to a problem - but actually a solution. Hard as it is to believe, there really are people out there who want to hear a ten minute song with the same riff played over and over again. It's almost the antithesis of jam-band music. Only in this genre can you get away with praising a band for their constant reiteration of a sound as well as their complete lack of musical deviation. But call it uncreative, and you're likely to get a pitchfork through the eye, or even drowned in a sand pit out in the desert.
So for those out there who still haven't really latched on to High On Fire, yet loved Sleep, there's a great chance that Variations on a Theme will satiate your thirst for thick grooves and drugged out, head-bobbing, rhythms. OM are doom architects - stoner rock nobility who are building a glorious monolithic legacy, as fantastically redundant as it is self-medicating.
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