This is the latest EP from Hundred Year Old Man, who are an ambient post-sludge metal band from Leeds, England, UK.
What does "ambient post-sludge metal" mean, exactly. The songs are slow, grinding, the guitars are heavily distorted layers over drumming that thuds along slightly. The music sounds like slow heavy metal, played at a ponderous, grinding pace, the distorted notes floating for minutes. It also means that the vocals, when they are there, are that kind of full-throat yelling that makes my vocal chords hurt in sympathy. The type of screaming, yelling metal vocals that really really turns off a lot of people.
My girlfriend, for example, might enjoy the music of HYOM, but would last only 5 seconds after the vocalist starts his full-throated screaming. I don't really like this style of vocal either. It just ... it hurts to listen to. It's not pleasant and i feel sympathy pains in my own throat as the singer keeps going.
I enjoy metal. I enjoy the type of slow grinding that HYOM do. They are a 6-piece band, and i think that gives a lot of depth to their music. The music is really beautiful at times, drawing from Sabbath and My Bloody Valentine in seemingly equal measures, but slowing it all down to a ponderous crawl.
But the "singing". Ugh. I walk away from most bands that use this style of vocal. I really dislike it, and personally i wish the trend to "sing" like this would die in the heavy metal community.
But... i think that the abrasiveness, the sheer divisiveness of this type of singing is a significant part of the point. There are lots of essays on the web about the metal "community", and every community has to have a boundary, a way to draw distinctions. This type of "singing" is a distinction, and my dislike of it places me outside of a certain part of the metal community.
I have realized that i am okay with that. Your mileage may vary of course, but i felt it necessary to mention this awful vocal style.
There are three tracks here. The first is called Sun & Moon and is really beautiful. The music grinds slowly for six and a half minutes. It starts with a faint sample, tapped drums, and overdriven guitar grating slowly. Really nice, but soon enough the "vocals" start, and that yelling over the beautiful music kind of destroys the loveliness of it all. At the end there are horns (maybe a keyboard sample?) that creates a moment of real beauty, as there are no vocals, briefly, and the guitars grind and the horns float alongside them.
The middle track is called A Year In the North Sea. This is an instrumental tune, so you are spared the "vocals". This is two and a half minutes of strange clattering industrial samples and guitar distorted all to hell and back. For these few minutes, HYOM come close the mellower moments of the last few Skinny Puppy records.
And finally we have the title track, clocking in at 9 minutes. It starts lethargically, the drums providing sparse hits as the guitars whine in layers. This intro reminds me of the slower moments of SIANspheric, or maybe a little bit like The Verve. Really pretty. Then we have a few minutes with the vocals, the guitars grinding mightily and the drums really pounding as the "vocalist" screams. This part of the song is intense, but the screaming stops after a while and HYOM give us some kind of sample, faint and echoed in the background as the band grinds and the bass plays a really cool riff. There are some awesome moments in this song.
I find that i like the music here, a lot. If i could get instrumental versions of these songs, i would listen to them a lot and sing their praises all over the Internet. But because of the presence of the full-throat screaming at several places, i am highly ambivalent and admit that i will probably never listen to this ever again. However, people who are into this vocal style will probably wear this record out. HYOM have some serious chops and are making really cool music.
Hate the "vocals" though. Have i mentioned that?