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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Old Man Gloom
Christmas
Tortuga Recordings

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 1, 2004
Old Man Gloom wouldn't mind having apes become our masters. I can't blame them. If the Simian Alien Defense League, to which the band says it belongs, had a member running as a candidate in the last presidential election, I'd have voted for it. The group's lenient position on public masturbation alone would have swayed me, just as long as its platform didn't call for human enslavement. I've got to draw the line somewhere.

Politics aside, Old Man Gloom is surely more advanced than the monkey culture from which it came. Its ranks include members of Cave-In, Isis and Converge - all of whom have embraced the concept of splicing together genes from metal, hardcore and Pink Floyd-style psychedelica to produce a monolithic beast of sound that dwarves King Kong.

Christmas is Old Man Gloom's fifth record and it's just huge. That's the only word for it. The sheer sonic mass of the album, produced mostly by the guitar riffs of Aaron Turner of Isis and Nate Newton of Converge, just crushes you. "Gift", the opener, begins with what sounds like a choir of angels that got thrown out of heaven for revving their motorcycles too loudly. Then come the guitars, entering like giant gods of some long, lost civilization, back to claim what's theirs. They move slowly, as most monsters do, but every step is an earthquake.

Lasting only 51 seconds, "Skullstorm" picks up speed, riding furious, pounding waves of guitar that hammer the coasts of your subconscious and then suddenly subside. Luke Scarola, the electronics expert for this metalcore A-Team, then pulls aside the heavy, black velvet curtain of sound to reveal an imaginary world of electronic bird sounds and laser beam lightning. "Sleeping with Snakes" pulls up thick blankets of layered guitar over your head to help you cope with the night terrors listening to Old Man Gloom will give you. Then comes "Lukeness Monster", with its acoustic guitar textures and slight metallic tendrils of electronica scratching at the cover of a coffin as if buried alive.

Such are the many moods of Old Man Gloom. One minute, they're conjuring up impossibly heavy, dense cavern walls of sound, like in "'Tis Better To Give Than Receive", and in the blink of an eye, they transport you to alien soundscapes like "Accord-o-Matic" that seem as deserted as the moon. It all comes together in the closer, "Christmas Eve Parts I, II and III", a 16-minute epic that showers you with meteoric riffing and then haunts you with the fading echoes of sleigh bells that sound like distress calls from Santa and his reindeer from somewhere deep in space. Unfortunately, the song loses its way about halfway through and goes wandering off through the universe on a journey that never seems to end.

"The Volcano," then, is Old Man Gloom in its glory. You feel as if you're caught in a rowboat on the high seas, in the middle of the storm of the century, and the water is a seething cauldron that swirls about you, smashing your puny watercraft to bits. Caleb Scofield's bass is the only solid thing you can cling to, a buoy anchored to the ocean floor that vibrates like muscles made weak by exhaustion but never letting go.

Old Man Gloom will delight you with its sense of humor and its ever-shifting tempos, like pairing the serene acoustic number "Sonic Dust" with the chaotic, screamo nightmare "Girth And Greed." At times, the sequencing becomes too predictable and the raw-throated vocals, though suitable for this type of music, are too much to take. But if you enjoy hearing sound that's as massive and unbelievably large as the skyscrapers of today would seem to people that lived thousands of years ago, Old Man Gloom is for you, especially if you don't mind one that like to experiment with the natural order of things. Believe me, Christmas won't leave a lump of coal in your stocking.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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