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02. Skullstorm MP3
03. Something For The Mrs.
04. Sleeping With Snakes
05. Lukeness Monster
06. 'Tis Better To Receive
08. The Volcano
09. Close Your Eyes, Roll Back In Your Head
10. Girth And Greed
11. Sonic Dust
13. Christmas Eve Parts I, II, And III
By now most are familiar with the "almost-too-prolific-to-be-considered-a-side-project" society of intelligentsia known as Old Man Gloom. Comprised of Nate Newton (Converge), Caleb Scofield (Cave In), and Aaron Turner (ISIS), among others, one would be correct in assuming that it isn't only the band's consistent output of material that places them somewhat beyond the typical "side-project" category, but that the sheer quality of the music would allow OMG to stand as its own outfit. Christmas dishes up an impressive combination of the styles employed by the aforementioned acts, while safely maintaining the sense of freshness and new life so synonymous with the winter mornings associated with its title. The opening track, "Gift," recalls Celestial-era ISIS. Moreover, one can't help but feel a Converge-esque vibe on "Skullstorm," or when Scofield's thundering, distorted bass grooves through "'Tis Better To Receive." However, the incendiary "Sleeping With Snakes" and the devastating "Volcano" come from a world that is wholly Old Man Gloom. And, of course, embedded within and between the more standard songs are the ambient and noise departures so favored by Turner and Co. Less drone-heavy than his Lotus Eaters project and more cohesive than the experimentations of House Of Low Culture (possibly due to the input of OMG's other members), these tracks serve to tie things together nicely with Christmas.
Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of listening to an Old Man Gloom record is that everything seems to be well-grounded without being mind-numbing. When most up-and-coming bands in hardcore and metal are trying to "outdo" their predecessors and contemporaries with over-the-top riffs, time changes, and "who's got the best live show," Old Man Gloom salute those that came before them with smashing, ape-like fists. Elements of Sabbath ("Valhalla") creep through the riffs, as does an almost Deadguy-ish technical edge on "Girth And Greed." Yet nothing here seems overdone, and nothing is annoyingly dramatic. OMG make their point with the songs, smashing out a few riffs (most of the non-ambient tracks clock in at around 2 to 2 and a half minutes), and allowing things to roll on, and this successfully keeps things fresh, allowing each song to brandish different weapons in the OMG arsenal.
Bottom Line: While much of what is said above would indicate that this is a nearly perfect release, such is both true and untrue. While there is very little about Christmas that one could put the finger on with regard to the negative, one of the major factors to keep in mind is that this is still a side-project of more prominent and groundbreaking bands. In a sense, an OMG record is a double-edged sword; while, to their credit, the members obviously have no intention of recreating the sounds of their other bands, Old Man Gloom's music, while intriguing in its own right, still comes up sub-par to, say, ISIS. By the same token, however, their records offer up a pleasing answer when one longs for a different sound than what is found on the OMG members main projects. With Christmas, OMG seem to have conquered the next rung on the evolutionary ladder - having moved from the primate stage found on Meditations In B and taken the form of a technologically advanced simian conquerer.
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