Take a load of riffs that could have come from The Sword’s first album, shove them in a blender with some Mastodon-style melodic bellowing then stretch the whole thing out to interminable duration before setting the controls for the heart of Canterbury and you pretty much have the measure of the smugly oblique-sounding OHHMS and their latest EP Cold. It comprises just two tracks, yet requires over half an hour of your life. Let’s face it: if you’re going to hammer one song out to nearly quarter of an hour, that had better be one goddamn good song. What do you reckon, lads?
First track up, “The Anchor” is a nautical portent of things to come as it kicks off with some musing on the Aeolian mode over a rhythm punctuated with some cool-sounding bass chords. But by the time OHHMS bring the heavy, crashing into a shimmering wall of chord-drones that linger on into feedback, we are staring directly at a cleaner, more cheery version of Enemy Of The Sun-era Neurosis. And they continue in that vein – a Neanderthal chord progression, a drum-led breakdown, all accompanied by Paul Waller’s skilful vocals reaching plaintively over the music. Each section swells organically, growing slightly more imperative. This ship is on a voyage for sure, at one point even visiting the lick library of David Gilmour, but by the eight minute mark, we are beginning to wish it would hurry up a bit.
Second track, “Dawn of the Swarm”, follows the same trajectory: intriguing atmospherics that, more often than not, disappoint when they give way to yet another lumbering, by the numbers riff. There’s a more classic rock vibe on this one with backing vocals and traditional chord progressions before the whole thing winds up in a climax of feedback and reversed vocals. Of course, Sabbath are referenced. Zeppelin too. But by this point we have resigned ourselves to the fact that OHHMS, unlike some of their influences either can’t or won’t be taking us to more musically adventurous climes.
Pretentiously massive songs are all well and good but there are times in the depths of Cold where it feels like OHHMS are little more than a rudimentary guitar, bass and drums outfit who simply do not have the level of inventiveness to sell this kind of proposal. What you really have here is about five or six, simplistic ideas stitched together into two big pieces in order to claim a work of scale and ambition. It is frustrating to have to say this as the calibre of the band’s vocalist and bassist alone mark them out from the millions generic bands out there, but we listened intently to Cold waiting for them to blow us away. Sadly, it didn’t happen. Not this time anyway. 5/10