If there’s been one upside to the bleak circumstance in which we currently find ourselves, it’s the extra free time we have to listen to music, discover new artists and delve into some of our past favourites. Writer Kez Whelan (also known for Filth X Collins, Shrykull and Unbeknownst) has been doing just this, and has even been using this time to rank some of his favourite bands’ albums. He has graciously allowed us to post these rankings, starting with everyone’s favourite sonic explorers Om, a band initially formed by the rhythm section of Sleep. Eight years since their last record, here is Kez’s rankings from worst to best.
Kind of a weird transitional album between the more pounding Chris Hakius era and the subtler, more orchestrated stuff that came later, Pilgrimage still has that cool meditative atmosphere but doesn’t really hold together as well as the others and feels a bit aimless at times. All tension, no release. Those fade-outs are such a tease too – I wanna go on that wild voyage with you, dudes, where are you going?
Advaitic Songs (2012)
Definitely their most elaborate and layered record, Advaitic Songs builds on the extra stuff God Is Good introduced but doesn’t feel quite as cohesive or impactful to me. Still great though, ‘Haqq al-Yaqin’ is beautiful and ‘State Of Non-Return’ is an absolute monster, the bit where it all kicks in is one of my favourite Om moments for sure.
God Is Good (2009)
This, to me, is the album Pilgrimage should have been, building from a minimal, patient intro with ‘Thebes’ and then going off on some wild tangents on the second half. Funny how it’s only like two minutes longer but feels like so much more of a journey than Pilgrimage did. Emil Amos absolutely slays on this one, paying homage to Hakius’ style but putting his own flair on it, taking the band’s sound to some really cool dubby places. The extra instrumentation and exotic embellishments work really well without pulling focus too much like on Advaitic Songs – Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s vocals on ‘Cremation Ghat’ are fucking amazing, I thought it was some kind of crazy horn instrument rather than a human voice when I first heard it.
Variations On A Theme (2005)
Emil Amos is an utterly righteous drummer and I love how the Om sound has evolved over the years, but to my ears this is what Om is all about, Al and Chris just riding massive grooves into oblivion. This album is like the concept of a rock band rhythm section distilled into it’s purest essence and then mainlined directly into your eyeballs, just rolling, infinite grooves that flow like water, never really sitting still but managing to produce a really serene, calming effect. ‘On The Mountain At Dawn’ is one of those 20 minute songs that feels like it’s only two somehow. Plus THAT bass tone.
Conference Of The Birds (2006)
A great follow-up to the first album, Conference Of The Birds has that same “infinite riff” vibe but the songs are bit more dynamic and adventurous, exploring the duo’s more minimal side on ‘At Giza’ and then delivering a monumental climax with ‘Flight Of The Eagle’, taking that vast, rolling sound to even headier and more hypnotic places.
If you’re enjoying our content, please consider supporting us on Patreon.
Words: Kez Whelan