Hailing from Canterbury, UK, Ohhms specialise in long, doomy dirges. Their first two EPs – 2014’s Bloom and 2015’s Cold – along with last year’s debut full-length The Fool established them as the one the country’s go-to acts for 20-minute long deep dives into all things slow and heavy. Their new effort, Exist (all Holy Roar), continues in that same vein and manages to satisfy, even if it doesn’t rock the boat.
Compared to The Fool it feels like Ohhms have actually stripped back some of their sound. There’s no balladry in the vein of ‘The Lovers’ for example. And overall the whole thing feels more direct and aggressively in your face, perhaps this is due to the subject material. The lengthy opening track “vehemently depicts the existence and death of an animal (the monkey on the album cover) born into animal testing facilities” according to the press release, and the refrain from “I’m a dead fucking pig…you kick the dead fucking horse” is about as abrasive as you can get.
Even for a band used to lengthy tracks, Exist has a short track list; consisting of just four tracks, the first half of the album taken up by the mammoth twenty-three minute ‘Subjects’, a track that feels like half of an album ‘condensed’ into one long song by touching on every style they show elsewhere. It swings from an opening of classic eighties Doom riffs into something more aggressive and in your face with massive rolling drums, before switching to a quiet creep, building into something very reminiscent of early Mastodon, before swapping back and forth between quiet and aggression. It makes for interesting listening and could have easily been its own separate release.
The rest of the album sits firmly into the same realms of Doom-laden dirge and atmospheric post-Metal. ‘Shambles’ has a melancholy drone that eventually morphs into a something slow and morose yet optimistic and not a million miles away from Floor’s debut and is probably the most enjoyable thing on here.
In comparison ‘Calves’ is far more understated. A quiet, moody opening slowly builds before it slams into something heavy but still pained, and vaguely Crowbar-like in style, before fading away again. ‘Lay Down Your Firearms’ is the most direct assault on the senses; an explosive Hardcore opening makes way for more Floor-style sad-but-soaring vocals, before they inject a bit of Punky groove into things and proceedings close with a crescendo Mastodon would be proud of.
There’s a hell of a lot going on in each of the songs and the sheer scale of ‘Subjects’ means it takes multiple listens to get your head around. It’s an enjoyable journey, but there’s little that sticks for very long after it ends. Fans of Ohhms’ previous work will find enough here to keep them satisfied, but anyone looking for any great change may be left hanging, but all in, this is another solid slab of supergravity-inducing heaviness.
7.5 / 10