By Gruesome Greg
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Sleep, the quintessential stoner/doom band that kept the Sabbath dream alive throughout the 1990’s. While guitarist Matt Pike eventually decided to play faster with High on Fire, the other two thirds of the equation kept the stoner grooves going with OM. At least until recently. Drummer Chris Hakius left the band last year with little fanfare, and was replaced by little-known Emil Amos. Not much has changed, otherwise. Al Cisneros was the anchor holding Sleep together, and he continues to man the bass and vocal duties of the guitarless duo.
The first two OM albums featured no more than three tracks ranging in the 12 to 20 minute range. (For what it’s worth, I still don’t own a copy of Pilgrimage, their ’07 release on Southern Lord…) Likewise, God is Good is built around the 19-minute opener “Thebes.” As the title would suggest, this song starts off with a middle-eastern vibe, created by use of tamboura—whatever that is—and some tribal drum beats. It takes a whole 8 and a half minutes(!) for a heavy riff to come in, but from then on, it’s vintage Cisneros, although the bass is a tad more distorted and the vocals a lot cleaner than what we’re used to, Steve Albini avoiding another climb up Holy Mountain.
The next three tracks are considerably shorter, with none topping seven minutes in length. “Meditation is the Practice of Death” is the longest, and it doesn’t really go anywhere, just meanders about, Cisneros making meaningless Bible references in his laid-back drawl. “Cremation Ghat I” is three minutes of bass noodling and handclaps, with some chants thrown in for good measure, while “Cremation Ghat II” sees the middle-eastern instruments return. It’s almost like Al took an acid trip to the desert and decided to record what he saw. I hate to give this such a low rating,
but there’s really only 10 minutes of heavy riffing (out of 35) on here, and the rest doesn’t do much to capture my attention.