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Om: Conference of the Birds

Om: Conference of the Birds

Label:Holy Mountain
Release Date:2006

By Marc Masters | Posted 6/21/2006

California trio Sleep was a godfather to doom, the zoned-out strain of metal that stretched Black Sabbath’s resonating riffs to monolithic extremes. But Sleep never took doom as far as it could go--Earth’s one-chord drones took care of that--and even Dopesmoker, the band’s hourlong opus, hewed to a sound that anyone who stuck with metal past senior year would recognize. As a result, Sleep’s output is pretty hit or miss. Sometimes the band struck a Holy Grail chord that vibrated down to the earth’s core. Other times they sounded like they had simply smoked themselves out of ideas.

The same goes for Om, the duo of ex-Sleepers Al Cisneros (bass/vocals) and Chris Hakius (drums). Their 2004 debut, Variations on a Theme, had an equal amount of high and low, and Conference of the Birds is even more yin-yang: two 16-plus minute tracks, one a snore, the other a cortex-shaking bull’s-eye. The former, "At Giza," quickly collapses due to thin bass, generic drumming, and a cheesy combo of hoary lyrics ("Rise aviator/ Sun will follow") and vocals that would’ve sounded cliché 30 years ago. "Flight of the Eagle" also bangs a heavy riff into oblivion, but small tweaks--smoky bass fuzz, unpredictable drum fills, and the singing buried in the mix--make all the difference. It’s moments like this that make this duo worth tracking (and Sleep worth revisiting)--just be warned that good and bad are inseparable sides of Om’s blunt sword.

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