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OHHMS : The Fool

The latest from OHHMS is an inspiring, unpredictable, subtle step forward into more focused territory.

Post-Metal isn't Doom blah, blah, yawn. Keep moving folks, nothing to see here...and as you go, message Neurosis and ask them what they owe to Black Sabbath...

For those of you with open hearts and minds, welcome back to the world of OHHMS. I know they're not any more, but for a while I felt like the UK quintet were one of the best kept secrets in the delicious mire that is Post-Metal. A superlative blend of all that is good and emotive about the genre. 2014's 'Bloom' gave way to 'Cold', a year or so later, with both albums each featuring a brace of lengthy tracks showcasing the bands belting post-core fury alongside a softer, more progressive brooding. Like all good otherworldliness, OHHMS' music is beset with paradox.

Whilst 'Bloom' and 'Cold' were both excellent releases, it has to be said they were also fairly obviously cut from much of the same cloth, and it would not have seemed unreasonable to question whether or not 'The Fool' would usher in a few changes, pushing both artist and audience into newer, and more challenging territory. The answer is that in many ways it does, and in many ways it doesn't. See, there's that paradox again.

So, for a start, it's a fairly blatant looking concept album based around the tarot deck...and, there are six shorter looking tracks as opposed to two longer ones. Musically, OHHMS are still ploughing their familiar post-metal furrow, but they are changing things up here and there. Gone, for the most part, are the vast expanses of swaying noise in favour of shorter choppy riffage and staccatto drumming. Less about the external canvas perhaps, more in favour of an inner focus. Which, after all, is what the tarot asks for.

Despite all the songs bar one being shorter than before, there is however, a greater emphasis on progressive modification within the music. Riffs and motifs are dealt with swiftly and moved on from far quicker this time round. There are also subtle touches of accoustic guitars, effects and different vocal performances that are taking centre stage rather than being obscured in the overall mix. In this way 'The Fool' appears to be a far more experimental offering than previous outings, but it's all done so well that what comes across is a maturity in craftsmanship and songwriting rather than a showboating mess of avant-garde nonsense.

By way of a small quibble, as much as I enjoyed the final track, I can't help but feel it's twenty-something minutes of material belongs to a bygone age. 'The Fool''s first five tracks are a glorious step forward whilst 'The Hierophant', despite reminding us of past glories, sticks one foot in the past, and doesn't do a hell of a lot for the here and now. It's not a weak track by any stretch of the imagination, just out of place perhaps.

OHHMS have stepped up here though, with a release that reveals them to be masters of tricks new and old, and the canny changes in musical direction come perfectly timed, when to throw out another pair of lengthy tracks in the vein of the last two releases would I feel, have been a bit predictable and uninspiring. 'The Fool', it must be said, is neither. What it is, is a subtle, timely step forward and if you're coming to them for the first time, then OHHMS have a thoroughly enjoyable stand alone recording for your scrutiny.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Shuffle, Cut And Reveal
2. The Magician
3. The Hanged Man
4. The World
5. The Lovers
6. The Hierophant

Duration : Approx. 59 minutes

Visit the OHHMS bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-06-04 by Matt Halsey
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