Om – God is Good
When it was announced that original Om drummer Chris Hakius was leaving the band I imagine I felt the same as everyone else. It was cool while it lasted, but that’s over now. Damn those dirty little creative differences. I tend to feel this way whenever a band loses such an integral member and that feeling was only magnified considering Om is a duo with such a history together. I mean this was Chris Hakius and Al Cisneros of the almighty Sleep. These guys were so intertwined that Om could only be possible with them both together right? The Sub Pop 7 inch Gebel Barkal, the first studio recording featuring new drummer Emil Amos of Grails, only solidified my concerns. Om had grown stale.
I needn’t have worried.
It seems Emil Amos may have been the breath of fresh air Om needed. God is Good, their new full length album, shows Om to be full of life and moving in new directions with obvious inspiration from the exotic instrumental sounds of Grails while still being unmistakably Om.
The opening track “Thebes” is the most familiar sounding tune. Clocking in at just over 19 minutes it starts as a slow drone with a tamboura providing backing ambience to Cisneros’ meditative bass line that builds to the monolithic sound we’ve come to expect from Om. “Meditation Is the Practice of Death” has another classic Cisneros bass line, but it seems secondary to Amos' playing. The flute solo that leads us to the end of this tune is further evidence the band is moving in new directions. The next track “Cremation Ghat I” is without doubt the fastest song in the Om catalogue. It has a bouncy gait very reminiscent of “Pearl Bomb” by The Melvins. “Cremation Ghat I” naturally bleeds into the final track “Cremation Ghat II” which with more Tamboura and a subdued meditative feel is the most ambient song on God is Good.
Qualms? Yeah. Starting the album off with the heaviest and longest song leaves everything feeling a little uneven. Another ten minute tune at the end would have satisfied me. Or it might have been interesting to hear the theme of “Cremation Ghat I” fleshed out a little longer.
All said Conference of the Birds is still my favorite album from Om, but God is Good is a nice way for them to branch out and grow. I definitely think you should go out and buy this record, but considering it doesn’t come out until the end of the month and the fact that nobody will read this anyway I thought I’d help you hear it early.