Review: OHHMS ‘Rot’
Today is a special day. Today is a day I’ve known about for a while, and it is a day I’ve been excited to get to, because I finally get to talk about something truly incredible. It’s everything I have been privileged to witness, and it’s due to the brand spanking new OHHMS album Rot, which lands on the 31st March, via Church Road Records.
Now, it isn’t really a secret that I love OHHMS. Over the last few years, I have been able to see, review, and interview the band. Through it all, I have been able to watch them evolve, adapt, and move forward, in both an industry, and climate, which would have seen lesser bands buckle, and drop out. I put the band’s last offering, 2020’s Close, as one of my top albums of that year, based on just how incredible I think they are.
Since 2020, while a lot of things stopped, the band’s illustrious frontman, Paul Waller, has not only spent time working on music but also started the horror movie podcast A Year In Horror. Through organic evolution, he has merged the two artistic elements, music and film, and with the remaining members of the band, has come back with Rot, eight horror film-inspired slices of monstrous sludgy goodness. Each is inspired by classic works of horror, thrillers, and monster movies, to create a literal feast of flesh for the ears.
Not ones to rest on their already illustrious back catalogue, the band have again stepped forward and are giving the world a blistering soundtrack that will hopefully propel them to a status far more fitting. Obviously, it would have been easy to aim towards iconic horror characters if you were going to hit this subject matter. Instead, they’ve opted to work with some truly obscure cinematic works and produce resulting anthems that will hopefully leave you flabbergasted by the sheer weight of their intensity.
Not opting for clichés within musical genres has also opened them up to try new things, and really push themselves creatively. This band is so much more than just another generic heavy sludge band, and throughout the course of this album, they display just how versatile, and at times, ground-breaking, they really can be.
Stepping on at the opening of the album, we are transported into an old-school warning with Tonight’s Feature Presentation that’s like the beginning of an old fifties B-movie. It’s something to take note of, and be afraid, be very afraid…
As the intro dies off, Let’s Scare Jessica To Death rolls in, and opens out into that trademark OHHMS territory. Building in intensity, the track tentatively grows as it progresses, and those clean vocals are slowly replaced by Waller‘s scowled outpourings, guiding us through this first dark masterpiece. Punchy drums and a dank bass accompany those scratchy guitars, to provide everything that OHHMS excel at in one single snapshot. The thing with this band, which I’ve always felt passionately about, is just how honest and legitimate they are. They don’t do gimmicky tricks to pull in fans, instead, being true to themselves, and put integrity over cheap tricks.
Next up, Eaten Alive is a fucking juggernaut, there are no two ways about it, and I don’t make this statement lightly. The band are absolutely on fire here, and this one moment encapsulates just what makes them great. Hard, punchy, and abrasive, this is exactly what heavy music should be in the twenty-first century. I can’t say enough about this track, it has everything, and then some. Waller‘s vocal is on point, those drums are ferocious, and the string work from all parties is blistering.
eight horror film-inspired slices of monstrous sludgy goodness.
Blood Feast really encapsulates the groundwork, and it’s wonderfully spiteful. It’s tracks like this that elevate the quality of this band, and although not a commercial piece, Blood Feast should definitely appeal to a wider fanbase. Body Melt follows and it’s where things get a little freaky for me. Breaking with the hard-edge OHHMS blueprint, this is a quirkier offering and shows a different side for sure. A band unafraid to try new things, push themselves, and want to evolve and grow.
Having known The Mephisto Walz for a while as it’s part of the band’s more recent live set, to hear it finally committed to tape is fantastic. Not breaking from what the band do best, this one capitalises on their blueprint as they know what to throw at their fans and the chants will leave you singing along in unison. This is absolute fire.
A Dark Song is a brooding five and a half minutes of now familiar OHHMS that’s followed by Sisters which, right from the opening bars, is taking no prisoners. Displaying all OHHMS strengths, this pacy track is phenomenal. When heavy and at full intensity, this is a masterclass in just how it should be done and a wake up call to all of the band’s musical peers that this is how you do it properly. As legitimate as it gets, it’s a slice of fried gold.
Closing the album, Swamp Thing takes us on a journey of musical majesty, and once more it shows how the band have grown. Each element is more confident, allowing the opportunity to show off just what the band are capable of musically. Intensity has given way to a higher sense of achievement, and it really shines through. Anger and angst have somewhat been given over in favour of virtuosity and style.
As is the way with OHHMS, big pompous finishes are turned away from and replaced with darker, more ambient crescendos. It dies away like a final breath and all that’s left is the need to come down from the whole experience.
A real contender for the big stage, now is the time for OHHMS to step out of the shadows and get the recognition they rightly deserve. This album is an absolute achievement of style and creatively by a band who don’t bow down to easy choices, and quick fame yielding gimmicks. These guys are the real deal, their music is absolute fire, and their commitment to quality over cheap payoffs is true testament.
If you only take a chance on one new band this year, make it OHHMS, you won’t be disappointed.
Label: Church Road Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram
Scribed by: Lee Beamish