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Old Man Gloom, "Mickey Rookey Live at London"

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cover imageFor a band notorious for doing the absurdly perverse, such as releasing two albums both titled The Ape of God simultaneously, but with entirely different track lists, Mickey Rookey Live at London is a surprisingly straight-forward live album.  Across 18 songs, spanning since the super-group’s inception in 2000, it works great as a stand-alone release, but also as a distillation of the band’s decade and a half career, captured one night in 2014.


OMG has largely been a studio project made up of some very well known artists in the various post-metal heavy genres:  guitarist/vocalists Aaron Turner (Isis, Mamiffer) and Nate Newton (Converge),  bassist Caleb Scofield (Cave-In), and drummer Santos Montano.  Unsurprisingly from the line-up and the players’ various side-projects, the actual OMG sound is a amalgamation of various metal and hardcore subgenres, but there are always surprises to be had.  The set opener "Shadowed/Gift" leads off with a sustained drone and shrill feedback before slowly being melded into a distorted, noisy chug, then into a more traditional doomy metal framework.  Similarly, "Common Species" features the band immediately launching into a heavy, pounding mess that gets darker and bleaker before it concludes.

While these are common elements found throughout Mickey Rookey, variations occur. For example, the heavy pounding rhythms and bass-lead melody of "Regain/Rejoin" called to mind a more metal focused Head of David.  On "To Carry The Flame (Radio Edit)," the crew provides all slow metal screams and a grumpy, slogging pace that fits the band’s name very well.  However, there is a significant amount of variation and change throughout, and also some of the album’s most overly melodic stuff.

Admittedly, I latched on mostly to the experimental moments, like the twinkling electronics heavy "Christmas Eve Pt.  III" or the obtuse pseudo-reggae of "Scraps Theatre Presents."  The highlight of the disc, however, is the 12 minute epic "Zozobra Pts. I-III."  At first a mass of stabbing distorted guitar, the mix is slowly filled in, complete with more conventional singing for background vocals.  The sound transitions nicely from some of the performance’s ugliest moments to some of its most beautiful, and a multi-part suite structure that makes it extremely engaging.

Having never been a huge fan of pure metal and many of its multiple permutations, I will admit that some of the pieces did not resonate with me (mostly because of the vocal style), but on the whole, Mickey Rookey is an excellent document of Old Man Gloom and their infrequent performances.  The depth and variety of the band’s playing though is what makes this record shine, and that dry, sardonic sense of humor the band has always employed succeeds live just as well as it does in the studio.



Last Updated on Sunday, 28 August 2016 20:19  


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