These guys have Syd Barrett’s sense of efficacy — slow, slower, slowest — clear Sisyphean trudges toward some unholy and unseen peak that ends pretty much in the same place they began. – All Music Guide
When stoner/doom giants Sleep broke up, a couple of other bands formed in their place – one was High On Fire (led by Matt Pike) and the other one was Om, led by Al Cisneros and Chris Haikus, former rhythm section of Sleep. While following some of the sludgy tendencies of their former band, Cisneros and Haikus are also focusing more on hypnotic and drony side of things, as evidenced by splits they recorded with the likes of Current 93 and Six Organs Of Admittance.
“Variations On A Theme”, the band’s debut, arrived in 2005 via Holy Mountain label. All Music Guide commented on the album – “Variations on a Theme‘s transcendental design manifests itself in the sonic architecture. The song remains the same across these three crawling numbers (essentially movements in one gargantuan, ritualistic piece), throughout which the duo builds repetitive, mesmeric patterns: Cisneros grinds out meandering, python-thick basslines while Hakius pounds an earthmoving beat punctuated with precise, ringing, cymbal-strikes like the tolling of some primal ceremonial bell.”
The album’s follow-up – 2006 “Conference Of The Birds” – was described by AMG as a record that “has the ability to get underneath the skin of the listener and keep burrowing.” They concluded that “Conference of the Birds rocks terribly, terribly slowly and maniacally in a lazy, trance-inducing way; it will melt your inhibitions — or send you screaming from the room — without the use of drugs or alcohol.”
“Conference” was followed by 2007 “Pilgrimage”, which came out on Southern Lord Records. AMG pointed out that “After the collaborative EP Om did with Current 93, with its rather bludgeoning sense of non-float space attack, “logic” perhaps dictates that Pilgrimage would follow that ragged pied piper into the ether. Not so. These four cuts offer four widely divergent takes on the bass, drum, sounds, and ambient space that this pair have made a trademark since the disbanding of the unholy stoner rock trio Sleep. These cuts, ranging from a little over four minutes to nearly twelve, may follow an instrumental formula, but the sheer amount of blissful and chaotic havoc they can wreak with the brain (especially at delightfully high volume) can’t be boxed.”
In January of 2008, Haikus left Om and was replaced by Emil Amos (Grails). New line-up’s debut was “Gebel Barkal” 7″ which came out in August of that year on Sub Pop.
2009 saw two releases at once from the band – “Conference Live” was recorded in September of 2008 in New York, while “God Is A Good” is a proper studio album. Dusted Reviews commented on the album – “Like Pilgrimage, God is Good borrows its cover imagery from Greek Orthodox icons, its polyglot spirituality from a range of religious traditions. The lyrics, fairly indecipherable even when the words themselves are plain, are chanted in clusters, usually following the bass’s minimal melodies, and evoking Allah, St. Paul’s roadside conversion, and Hindu mythology without much differentiation. God is good, it seems, but not very particular about what you call him.”
DR concluded that “while everything is kept at a smoulder – the words unclear, the tempos slow – this new Om album is anything but boring. It moves at its own pace through vast spiritual landscapes, and if you can’t quite make out the melody drifting in from miles away, just wait a bit and it will come clear.”
Al Cisneros and Chris Haikus were also a part of the supergroup called Shrinebuilder, which includes members of Melvins, Neurosis and Saint Vitus. Chris Haikus, however, left the project and was replaced by Dale Crover (Melvins / Nirvana).
Al Cisneros (Asbestosdeath, Shrinebuilder, Sleep)
Emil Amos (Dolorean, Holy Sons, Grails)
Chris Haikus (Asbestosdeath, Sabians, Shrinebuilder, Sleep)
Variations On A Theme CD / LP (Holy Mountain, 2005)
Om / Six Organs Of Admittance Split 7″ (Holy Mountain, 2006)
Conference Of The Birds CD / LP (Holy Mountain, 2006 / Leaf Hound, 2006)
Om / Current 93 Split CD / 10″ (Neurot, 2006 / Durtro + Jnana, 2006)
Pilgrimage CD / LP (Southern Lord, 2007 / Daymare, 2007)
Gebel Barkal 7″ (Sub Pop, 2008)
Live At Jerusalem LP (Southern Lord, 2008)
Conference Live LP (Important, 2009)
God Is Good CD / CDr / LP (Drag City, 2009)
“On The Mountain At Dawn” on Live From The Devil’s Triangle Volume 8 (KJFC, 2005)
“Unitive Knowledge Of The Godhead” on Within Thee Church Of Thee Overlords || (Southern Lord, 2007)