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Aural Pleasure Review

Old Man Gloom: 'No'

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No is Old Man Gloom's first proper full-length since 2004's Christmas. And like Christmas, it is a hulking, enigmatic entity that varies between their unique hybridization of pummeling, heavy, and groovy metal/hardcore and minimal, textural, meandering passages. But the years in between albums have let their approach mature into a more unified, organic gestalt; the album is strong throughout and never drags or loses the listener's interest. The tracks go from jarring, angular rhythm that never relents on the heavy groove to dissonant white noise that slowly evolves into a gorgeous cadence that wouldn't feel out of place on some Philip Glass soundtrack. In terms of sound, this record is massive. The mix is thicker than molasses and pushed way into the red when the band kicks in. This back-and-forth play with volume and intensity creates compelling musical pieces in a way that few "metal" or "hardcore" bands can come close to. This iconoclasm is one of the many reasons why No is successful on so many levels. The album can be cryptic and heady and requires a fair bit of patience from the audience, but the experience is wholly unique and incredibly rewarding.

★★★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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