Old Man Gloom

Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivism Regressi

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Released simultaneously with the single-track Seminar III, this CD plays out as a sort of roller coaster ride, with quiet ambient drones giving way to full-on metalcore assaults (and vice versa) throughout its 17 tracks. The songs themselves are uniformly strong, from the slow, towering riffs of "Hot Salvation" to the Black Sabbath-gone-hardcore grooves of "Jaws of the Lion." Other standouts include "Deserts in Your Eyes," with its soaring, dramatic vocal melody (sung Glen Danzig-style by drummer Santos Montano), and the forlorn acoustic and slide guitar instrumental "Clenched Tight in the Fist of God." In fact, these songs are so consistently well done that they leave one wishing they'd been given more time to develop, as they often seem to end prematurely. At any rate, that's not what the band had in mind, as they've offset these tracks with an equal number of heavily contrasting ambient/drone sections. "Three Ring Ocean Sideshow," which gradually builds from quiet electronic blips and bleeps to a nearly overloaded wall of layered guitar feedback, is a highlight among those quieter moments. On first hearing, this album can seem a bit schizophrenic -- it's really loud and intense one minute, quiet and eerie the next -- so it requires some patience and attentiveness, but it is well worth it, especially if the thought of Neurosis, Earth, Led Zeppelin, and Godflesh holing up in a studio together sounds like an appealing combination.

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