OM is not your typical stoner/doom band. Starting back in 2003 by the rythm section of the seminal but then disbanded Sleep, the duo elaborated on the more mystical side of Sleep’s music and created a sort of transcendental stoner/doom rock. With the dynamic drumming of Chris Hakius and the hypnotic (and often delightfully distorted) bass and chanting vocals of Al Cisneros their heavy rock was said to have similarities with for example Tibetan chants and Sufi music.
Over the years the band has become less Sleep-like and the religious overtones have intensified. The band doesn’t seem to adhere to any specific religion but rather the concept of religion itself, mixing elements of Judaeo-Christian traditions, Hinduism, Sufism and more into their music, lyrics and artwork.
While Cisneros still remains the front man of the band, the drums are now handled by Emil Amos (Grails). The duo has also become a trio with a third member, that being Tyler Trotter during the current tour, that provides keyboards, samples, tambourine and the occasional guitar.
OM have not disappointed before when I’ve seen them, and again they succeeded in bringing their quite original music to the stage. They offer a no frills live show, just entering the stage and performing their songs one after another, but they do it well, and clearly get into the music and the special vibe themselves, as do the audience. It is not that common during rock concerts to see so many people standing so silent and transfixed with their heads bobbing in unison to such hypnotic rock music.
The choice of songs is heavily focused on the latest two albums, “God is Good” and “Advaitic Songs”. Since OM has not released a new album in seven years this is rather old material today, and many fans are longing for a new OM release. The lack thereof is presumably partly due to Cisneros’ involvement also in the now revived Sleep. Rather than complaining about the lack of new OM material one might choose to instead be grateful that OM is kept active and still doing concerts, even now when Sleep is on tour at the same time.
The first part of the concert is focused more on the slightly softer songs from the OM repertoire, but the thunderous distorted bass rock outs also make appearances, especially in the end with the songs “Thebes” and “Bhima’s Theme”.
The silence between songs during the concert is often filled with only a droning Tanpura sound, and the band’s interaction with the audience is limited to the occasional “Thank you, Stockholm”. The audience is however not here to interact with the band but rather to get immersed in the hypnotic bass lines and drum grooves that are OM, and the band delivers.
Text and photos by Per “Pelle” Einarsson