Just in case there was any ambiguity following the above band name and album title, yes, Aum are kvlt as fvck. Social media is unworthy of their presence. The supplied photo does that stupid intentional enigma thing. I cannot locate any information about the band besides their French nationality. Their exploration of Buddhism through the medium of blackened death metal seems confused. I’m unsure if the resolute secrecy is evidence of self-importance or lack of care but I want to assure you, dear reader, that I had formed my views of this album before turning up nothing in my searches. All it did was consolidate my opinion that no one should give a shit about it, particularly if the band doesn’t appear to either.
But there’s still time for the obligatory scramble for positives! The arrangement of growls, shrieks and throat singing in the middle of opener “Moksha” is actually quite compelling. The unnecessarily rapid demise of this passage proves a sincere let-down as such a combination is subsequently ignored for an unknown reason, preferring typical growls for the remaining majority. Similarly, “Vipashyana” closes the record with something somewhat engaging which is otherwise unused. It slows the furious tempo down to a The Rack-like fusion of doom and death (it’s significantly less good but you get the reference), featuring a couple of riffs which have a decent groove. Lastly, Om Ah… is actually very dynamic and is generally produced well. The bass rumbles adequately and the mix is well-balanced.
So what are the issues? Everything that’s not already been noted. Tracks are borderline indistinguishable aside from the bookends, despite the foolhardy levels of time and effort I put into the record. Not only would the riffs be interchangeable, the songs would too. It attacks in an indistinct blur of blast beats, aggressive guitars and lame vocals. I didn’t think it were possible to growl or use harsh vocals without passion or at least conviction but it’s somehow managed here. Once your attention fades about 3 minutes in there’s really nothing with which you will re-engage. It’s utterly devoid of personality or anything even mildly entertaining (notwithstanding the above exceptions). Someone who hates everyone, everything, and who likes underground bands simply because they’re underground would probably describe this as “cool.”
Worse still is the missed opportunity presented by the aspects representing the band’s interest in Buddhism. A visual metaphor for the relationship between the metal and the Buddhist parts is black versus white: there is no gray. There is metal and there is not metal. Save for the aforementioned passage layering throat singing with harsh vocals there is exactly zero overlap between the two parts. This falls short of something which could have actually been vaguely interesting. Moreover, the Buddhist passages are merely used in introductions and conclusions, bridging tracks. This is both a lazy transitional technique and reduces Aum‘s interest in this spirituality to a function. Perhaps they have genuine curiosity or belief but that’s certainly not how it appears on this album.
Om Ah… is as one-note as it is forgettable. There’s a thick veil of dreariness draped over everything; the greatest passion invoked in me was frustration at all the underground pretense. While the potential for integration of unusual instrumentation and throat singing into extreme metal is moderately appealing the execution here is uninspired. Perhaps it’s better that the musician(s) in question don’t have their names attached to this after all.
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Websites: Too kvlt for the interwebz
Releases worldwide: September 9th, 2016