Old Man Gloom – Seminar III: Zozobra

4 out of 5

Label: Tortuga

Produced by: Kurt Ballou

With SUMAC, Aaron Turner had expressed a desire to write some of the heaviest music of his career. While I think he definitely succeeded in executing some noise terror, I’d forgotten that he’d maybe already accomplished that goal with Old Man Gloom. Seminar III’s single, 27-minute track, Zozobra, isn’t far removed from other slocore, doom metal drone to which Aaron has put his name (aspects of SUMAC included), but when that single track reaches its second, peaking section, about midway through – yes, by god, it is some of the heaviest music you’ll ever hear.

Accepting that Aaron has worked with a bevy of different bandmembers and bands and producers over the years – and it’s not like his name is the only one in OMG, but it’s a group I nonetheless associate with him – there seems, in his metal projects, to be a penchant for “mid-range” sounds: vocalists who bellow in monotone; guitars and bass thundering at a similar wavelength. Depending on how that’s presented, it can, frankly, bore me a bit – all of the heft amounts to a wash of sound. But the vocals on Seminar III are appreciably mixed way in the back – they are accoutrement, along with the effects and samples – and producer Kurt Ballou’s typically low-end scuzz production is a perfect match to bring forth all the rough edges of the slabs of guitars; the dinosaur-stomp drums.

Whether or not this needs to be nearly a half-hour song is a matter of opinion, but it’s well constructed, stringing along its drone-y sections for just long enough until you’re waiting for a new evolution, and there it comes. The somewhat atypical guitar solo in the final few minutes feels a bit off, so maybe that time could’ve been shaved or toyed with differently, but it’s still another appreciative shift in the otherwise slow, menacing chugga chugga of the entire track.