For almost a decade now, Om has wandered the more meditative realms of metal, with Al Cisneros intoning hypnotic chants and heavily distorted bass riffs over slightly swingin' drums. For fans of Cisneros' previous band, Sleep, Om was the spiritual next step after the much-delayed but now-classic stoner-metal saga, Dopesmoker. But after Om's original drummer left and Emil Amos stepped in, there was a transformation, ingesting the Grails multi-instrumentalist's Eastern proclivities and fraying its ties to doom metal.
At the center of Advaitic Songs' five-song suite, "Gethsemane" connects the ever-expanding dots of Om's sound. A tamboura pulses underneath Amos' crystal-clear, tightly snapped snare/hi-hat/kick-drum combo, begging to be sampled by a producer with a drawling Southern rapper. Cisneros goes distortion-less on his bass, letting the rhythm section pop like the very "drops of blood falling down to the ground" that Jesus wept at Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion. As on the rest of Advaitic Songs, Giant Squid and Grayceon cellist Jackie Perez Gretz does the hefty melodic lifting, proving just as essential as the band's core membership.
While just one part of the whole, "Gethsemane" is representative of an album that seeks the Advaita — the identity of the Self and the Whole. If 2009's God Is Good was the journey, then the forthcoming Advaitic Songs is the enlightenment.
Advaitic Songs comes out July 24 on Drag City Records.