Old Man Gloom
Holy fuck. I have a lot to say about this record but I have no idea how to put it into words. First of all, it was nice to receive this on cassette so it really forces me to sit and listen to it in it's entirety because there is a lot to digest. It's an epic record that sprawls across an hour of your life with some on the most interesting and heavy shit you will hear all year. Old Man Gloom has always been a "project" band of it's members. Isis, Converge, Cave-In and Zozobra are all fine bands with tons of good work to enjoy but, for me, Old Man Gloom has always been my favorite project of all of these guys (except maybe Mamiffer as far as Aaron Turner is concerned these days). It seemed to be a band where the members could stretch their wings a bit more. Nate Newton and Caleb Scofield could be incredibly heavy without any of the baggage that their other bands hung on them. Whether it's Converge's professional crowd pleasing or Cave-In's schizophrenic rock identities, in Old Man Gloom both of these guys get to do what they do best which is destroy and amaze with their riffs of originality. Aaron Turner's addition to Old Man Gloom shows that he has an almost inexhaustible well of creativity to draw from. The song structures and segues on here that totally blow me away and feel completely new. Isis was a lot about restraint and space and I appreciated that. But as their career went on I became less and less interested in what they were doing. I felt they hit their high point early on with Oceanic and most everything after that, while still good, never reached the same artistic level as their second full length. With Old Man Gloom, Aaron is still able to work his guitar in a way that is at times is locked with the band in a overly violent way but then depart from the music and take the song to a whole new emotional level. Everyone on this record does an excellent job. The drumming is spot on, the recording is perfect. It may be my favorite record of the year. Like most Old Man Gloom there is a bit of meandering here and there but that is mostly in the experimenting and I have zero problems with that. There is one song that is very "sing songy" in a very Boston way and that isn't totally my bag but there is enough good stuff in that one song to really make it enjoyable as well. The noise parts throughout are excellent and you will hear some of the heaviest riffs of your life on this thing. Seriously. It's fucked.
Most things these days that Aaron Turner and Faith Coloccia have their hands in visually is stunning and envy producing. If I could design have as well as either of them I would be writing this from my summer cabin instead of my rotting basement apartment. The artwork by Aaron Turner (based on previous work by Faith Coloccia) is gorgeous but the thing that really impresses me is the completely wrong but completely beautiful and perfect type treatment by Faith Coloccia. I don't think Faith has formal training in typography and if she does she certainly has done a great job of throwing that out the window to do something wonderful. Now no one else should ever try this because it will look bad but the tracking and kerning on just about every word is insanity. Weird, uneven gaps and characters allows the lyrics and info to be fully justified but it's all been set manually so it make little sense. It looks like she used every typeface in whatever font family this is, Akzidenz Grotesk I believe, to set up her hierarchy. Bold, italic, black, condensed… It's all there in mostly capitals and it's perfect. Impressive to say the least.