Pilgrimage (Southern Lord)
For two-piece stoner/doom/drone-rock outfit Om, heaviness is as much about mood and mindset as it is about volume and physical resonance. Their third long-player extrapolates on the same bass-and-drums format, the same whispering-rumination-to-bottomless-rumble dynamics, and the same impenetrably metaphysical lyrical themes as their first two offerings, to similarly potent effect. Even in their quiet, meditative moments, the Om duo are just as powerful as any guitar-toting brethren on their new label, the doom-friendly Southern Lord.
Which isn’t to say that Om don’t pack plenty of wham. When bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros kicks on the distortion pedal and jacks up the loud midway through the album’s opening track (the title cut), you can feel your molars loosen, even with the iPod on low volume. His overdriven instrument howls and thrums with the voice of an angry deity.
The duo’s format—Cisneros and skinsman Chris Hakius adhere rigidly to the bass/drum-set template, with nary a guest guitar, stray keyboard stroke, or corollary percussion instrument to be heard—leaves little room for experimentation; if you’ve heard Om before, you pretty well know what’s coming. But that makes little difference to those of us who’ve fallen prey to the heady power of the Om-drone; its hypnotic allure seems somehow, perhaps mystically, immune to the principle of contempt by way of familiarity. Bir Akeim. Salutes the Godhead. Vigilance. Lazarus.