Jan 25, 2011
God Ox - Abyssal Gigantism ...
Based in New York, home to the most wicked of sinners, the high priests recently completed several crusades throughout the northeast and New York City’s boroughs. Collectively referred to as God Ox by their devout followers, the high priests enable the Lord to manifest through live sludge metal performances. God Ox has digitally released their first album in order to better reach distant followers, particularly those who face bigotry when worshiping publicly in intolerant and defamatory communities.
By downloading Abyssal Gigantism, listeners will join a momentous period in the history of the Church of Ox. Never before have the high priests been able to directly engage so many followers in preparation for their Judgement. Your action will please Lord God Ox, may He be exalted, by acknowledging the significant accomplishment in recording and distributing this album, which is also available for purchase in person at God Ox performances and rituals.” (press release)
When God Ox’s album arrived for the review last week, I must confess I was a bit perplexed by the language used in the above press release. Not being able to listen to the tunes immediately I went to check on the band’s myspace page, and I got even more perplexed. I could not find any “normal” bio for a horde of heavy or bearded metallers but a sort of Decalogue of a (fake?) religious movement (Principles of Oxism, Oxmology, etc.) and related psalms (the lyrics, which are quite remarkable, by the way).
Not the first time I happen to see something like this (e.g., with the psychedelic band Black Science, but probably they were serious in their esoteric philosophy …).
Well, I guess Oxism is a fake thing if the band writes they come from Mount Oxlympus, NY and their influences are not only St. Thomas Aquinas, John Scotus Eriugena, St. Augustine and Black Sabbath but also Frisky Dingo, and Atomic Robo, lol …
Anyway, as the reviewers at The Soda Shop and on Hellbound webzines remarked, these guys know how to write smartly and, well, rather pretentiously without revealing what they actually play.
So this was the occasion to say “let the music speak”.
And in God Ox’s debut album Abyssal Gigantism the music howls …
Before starting scanning the album, here’s a few more “solid” info about the band members.
God Ox is a five-piece US band from New York. Members, aka the “high priests of the Church of Ox” call themselves as Myth Ox, Beast Ox, War Ox, Frost Ox and Axe Ox aka Captain Riffwright.
Their “unholy” names are Ben Abelson (vocals), Phil Salvagione (guitar), Gabriel Marin (double neck guitar), Evan Burke (bass) and Dan Kurfirst (drums). They are all experienced musicians. In particular Abelson, Salvagione and Kurfirst have been playing together in the “cerebral fuzz rock” band Scribes of Fire for years.
The first impression of God Ox’s music is of being weird and majestic.
The sensation becomes persistent after several spinnings of the album. Abyssal Gigantism is drenched with sludge and doom of the finest kind and of ever growing charm. So all welcome and nothing unexpected for Doommantia. However God Ox album is extremely multifaceted, so that it actually sounds weird and full of surprises.
The “revelation” of God Ox is manifested through several musical styles adopted by the band in a way that may leave purists, again, perplexed.
The tracks, carrying quite inspired titles, range from, let’s say, rather classic sludgy doom to laid-back sludgy southern metal to mid-paced proggy to experimental, heavy sludge-doom. Vocal parts and the awesome performance of the guitarists (one of whom uses a scenic double neck guitar) make the tunes boil.
The vocal parts are particularly impressive. Vocalist Ben here delivers an astonishing performance as far as tonal ranges are concerned. Ben’s voice can be charming or disturbing, yet it is always powerful, stable, incredibly versatile and effective in contributing at the different atmospheres in the developments of these long tracks.
The opening track “Benevolent Severity” swallows you with its distinctive and addictive stream of early Sabbath/Saint Vitus sulphureous doom obscurities blended with unmistakeable NOLA-styled sludge in the vein of mighty EyeHateGod and Weedeater announced by a soft slide guitar solo. Here as well as in the other tracks Ben’s vocal style tends to be mid- to high-pitched but it hauntingly varies from epic clean chanting almost à-la-Messiah Marcolin to harsh nasty hissing and screaming.
The final slight acceleration of the riffs towards the end of the first track is a hint of what will come after, i.e. the mid-tempo “Ox Flu Zombie Apocalypse” with its changes in melody, their rather technical, heavy plodding riffs relentlessly interacting with intense vocals (ranging again from clean passionate to fierce, ghostly growls) and so reminding of Mastodon’s, High On Fire’s or Baroness’ complex heaviness. Likely it’s the pre-Ox background that starts seeping through the tunes …
After the monumental, dark heaviness and the march-like push of the first two tracks, the third track, Eriugena, is a long travel through the damp of a southern mossy swamp. Some great sludgy riffs alternate with long, softer, melancholic, laid-back bluesy southern metal jams where suffering and slightly melancholic clean vocal parts are inserted. The whole sounds and atmospheres here unavoidably remind so much (and so obviously, but very pleasantly) of Down’s style. The voice is again and continuously changing and incorporates the stream of passion typical of blues and southern sludge.
The fourth track, Pestilent Dogmata, is a charming mixture of the previous dense, heavy and melancholic sludgy riffs and rarefied psychedelic desert rock atmospheres delicately evoked by reverberating guitars.
Vocals again follow the oscillating rhythms and here more than elsewhere recall Chris Cornell’s. Pre-Ox experiences coming out again (go and give a listen to the charming Scribes of Fire’s album Zauberer and you’ll get the feeling of how these guys love Soundgarden).
The fifth track, Priest Infection, adopts a southern sludge riffing as intro. Then it rapidly evolves to a “weird” core where southern sludge is not only powered by rather technical riffing so much à-la-Mastodon but is as well deformed by dissonance. The latter involve both riffs and distorted vocals. The result may sound a bit “experimental” and reminds me a bit of my fave Faith no More album, King For A Day … fool For A Lifetime.
The last track, The Ontological Argument For The Existence Of Lord God, hopelessly hookes you with its irresistible start in pure Pantera-style riffing. But the “easy” start rapidly gives way to the complex, multi-faceted style tasted before, made of that incredible, technical but not cold or sterile build-up of riffs, boiling hot southern sludge atmospheres, experimentation with dissonance, rapid changes in rhythms and pace, from “fast and furious” to slow and even drony. Slow and solemn tunes get dominant towards the end of the track, when the album fades away via a solitary keyboard sound. In this last, amazing track Ben Abelson again stretches his vocals on a remarkably wide range.
A further special mention goes to a visual aspect of the band, i.e., the band’s graphic logo. As duly noted in The Soda Shop, the logo is a clever and only seemingly unreadable construction of tracts where the band’s name is combined with several religious and anti-religious symbols. The graphical construction is almost an optical trick as it changes rapidly when stared at. The hidden God Ox name is suddenly “revealed” to the eye in the centre of the shape. The name is surrounded, overgrown (encrusted?) by religious symbols like a cross (which is also inverted) and a menorah-like shape. The graphic style of the construction also recalls the elegant Kufi writing style employed in the most precious manuscripts of the Qur’an and the braided tracks may remember some Celtic decorations. The God Ox emerges and obscures the rest. Brilliant …
Technically, or rather coldly, one may see the six tracks composing the album as a sort of “catalogue” of what the band is able to play, so one may wonder whether the band has still to find a personal, unique style. Sludge doom? Southern sludge metal? Experimental/technical proggy sludge-doom?
But these five guys are so good in playing whatever they feel like that one may not be actually bothered in enjoying awesomeness in variety.
And the top quality of this first offer is so much promising for what will come next from these five Ox priests … 9/10
God Ox’s album is out on label Auditory Essentials and is available exclusively as digital release through iTunes.
As a side note I would like to paste another, this time serious, press info which further increases my admiration for these musicians:
“A collaboration of slow hairy stoner metal, God Ox takes heavy music to another level of experience – one complete with religious cult fantasy and a way to fight world hunger. At the God Ox concerts, you’ll worship the Lord God Ox (may he be exhalted) and you can support the Heifer Project (www.heifer.org), all while headbanging to the death.”
Review by Marilena Moroni (Mari)
God Ox @ Myspace
God Ox @ Facebook
itunes.apple.com/us/album/abyssal-giganism/id395303588 - God Ox @ I Tunes
The Heifer Project
Tags: God Ox