OHHMS - Close review

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Album: Close
Release date: June 2020

01. Alive!
02. ((Flaming Youth))
03. Revenge
04. ((Strange Ways))
05. Destroyer
06. Asylum
07. Unplugged

OHHMS come from Kent, but I'm not sure that their message "There is no God, there's only Gods" will necessarily be endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Close is the third full-length from OHHMS, one of Britain's most prominent post-metal acts. Since discovering them last year, I've appreciated OHHMS for having quite a distinctive sound compared with the post-metal scene at the whole; their combination of post-metal with sludge, progressive and doom elements comes out sounding fairly unique (Intronaut have also been described as a post-/prog/sludge fusion by me previously, but the two bands sound nothing alike). A further feather in their cap is Paul Waller's deep sung vocals, which differentiate the band from the screams that so many post-metal bands opt for. However, whilst I enjoy their sound, I have found their releases to date (aside from perhaps debut EP Bloom) slightly inconsistent. Close does a lot to fix that.

One of the first things anyone familiar with the band might notice is the runtimes of the tracks here; in contrast to their previous records (both full-lengths feature a song longer than 20 minutes, and both EPs contain songs exclusively over 10 minutes), the tracks here are very condensed, with only "Revenge" threatening the 10-minute barrier (side note: KISS fans may note some overlap between the song names on Close and the KISS discography). This is a compact version of OHHMS; however, given how their best songs prior to this point have often been the long ones ("Subjects", "Rise Of The Herbivore"), they reliably nail the shorter tracks here. "Destroyer" (from which the quote in the opening is taken) clocks in at just over 3 minutes, yet takes the listener on a full journey without sounding cramped, starting with dense, percussive introduction (the drums are impressive throughout Close) and proceeding through vocal sections and a gripping post-metal bridge before the emphatic climactic declaration and atmospheric outro.

Waller's distinctive clean vocal style dominates the vocal side of OHHMS, but there's a perhaps greater presence of harsher screams on Close than previous records, including in the introduction of the short, sweet rocker "Asylum". It's impressive to see a band so used to allowing songs their sweet time to play out manage to deliver a complete song under 2 minutes in length. Nevertheless, the highlights of Close are the longer cuts, particularly "Revenge", traversing bursts of up-tempo aggression, powerful mid-tempo sludge grooves and a lush atmospheric build-up in its second half to make the most of its runtime. Add to that the solid closing track "Unplugged", which is more singular in approach but channels that to its advantage with its moving post-rock segments and huge Isis-esque ending, and you have a concise but impactful package.

Short but sweet, Close shows that OHHMS can do a lot with a little on top of doing a lot with a lot. This is the kind of release that is commonly referred as a "maturation of the band's sound"; it would be a shame if this maturation signalled the end of epics such as those OHHMS have produced in the past, but as a complete package Close is their most enjoyable offering yet for my money.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 7


Written on 30.06.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not

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