If it’s on Holy Roar then it’s bound to be a good one, right? Kent sludge metallers Ohhms have a lot to say on their second album, ‘Exist’, and in the space of a year they’ve gone from making a concept album (2017’s ‘The Fool’) to addressing real-world issues directly.
Opener ‘Subjects’ is an epic which falls just short of being 23 minutes long, and this is a statement of intent from the word go. Their take on sludge metal is certainly more melodic, but by no means less intense. A common pitfall of albums of this kind is that they can seemingly plod along aimlessly, but there are enough atmospheric ideas and bass breaks as well as twists and turns on show to avoid these trappings.
Underneath the hooks, particularly in this song, is a more serious subject matter. Inspired in part by the animal testing practices of corporations, vocalist Paul Waller‘s exclamations near the end of the track such as “I’m a dead fucking pig” followed shortly by “I’m your pet fucking dog” is perhaps the most striking way of driving their message home, and more specifically confronting the plight of animals kept in captivity. Animal rights campaigners have always had a bad reputation from some, but every now and then we need to have our own habits, as well as society at large, questioned from time to time.
With plenty of influence from both Mastodon and Eyehategod, Ohhms can be equally as engaging musically alongside their message. The brooding ‘Shambles’ has more reliance on melody, and some eerie Alice In Chains-esque vocal harmonies make for another intriguing number. Waller‘s vocal delivery has a certain gritty yet melodic edge that wouldn’t sound out of place in a punk band.
‘Calves’ is relatively more restrained-sounding, but ‘Lay Down Your Firearms’, with its hardcore-tinged intro, is further proof of the band’s diverse palette. It then segues into a section that almost challenges you not to pump your fist, with a sense of urgency to take direct action and stand up for what you believe in – something that’s needed desperately in these trying times that we live in.
‘Exist’ is an album that wears its convictions on its sleeve, and also seduces you with its broad canvas. The standard may be getting higher and higher for post-metal at the moment, but Ohhms have crafted an album which should push them towards the best of their peers.