Sound — 9
To say that this album has been polarizing is an understatement. Since its release in 2012 this has split fans down the middle. Continuing the increasing ancient religious themes that have become more strongly apparent w/ the previous two releases ("Pilgrimage" and "God Is Good"). Mesopotamian and Egyptian sounds and themes are also strongly apparent in this album. More so than the direction of the album, the instrumentation is noticeably less bass driven and in fact the violins, viola's and cello's take the lead role a number of times. If one allows themselves to completely drift into the music, a narrative and imagery comes vividly. Walking the desert, the day in the life of a priest, as well as the life of common people so long ago in the cradle of civilization. Recording, production and instrumentally the album sounds absolutely superb. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the classic riffage of "State of Non-Return," or the whirling ritualistic sounds-capes of "Haqq Al-Yaqin." All the instrumentation is brilliantly placed in the recording for an immersing experience.
Lyrics — 8
A common complaint against Om in this release, but also others, is Al Cisneros' way of writing lyrics. The words are more of ways of creating emotions, ideas and atmosphere, rather than being straightforwardly direct. Upon reading they do have a basic meaning and story, but like any good story, one needs to unwind it to see it clearly. Personally the lyrics have never been a problem, and only add perfectly to the rest of the music and the overall purpose of Om. Most of the songs are fairly sparse of lyrics, w/ "State of Non-Return" being a lyrical stand-out for me.
Overall Impression — 8
1. "Addis" - The album begins w/ a mantra to Shiva, peace to my friends, my family and loved ones. Starting as simply a vocal chant, this sets the mood immediately for a spiritual experience and climaxes ready for phoenix flight of the next track. 2. "State of Non-Return" - With a valiant roar this track takes flight at 1000 miles per hour and stops for no one until the second half. Musically and lyrically, this song feels like a culmination of everything Om has been doing up until this point. The fact that the songs moves into a slower, violin lead section is while somewhat disappointing, entirely appropriate to move the album forward. Three minutes of Om in all it's glory is not exactly what all fans where hoping for, but how glorious those three minutes are. 3. "Gethsemane" - Sounding like the rising of the Sun, this track keeps things at a mid-level pace, w/ added instrumentation including guitar. A simpler track, the bass is very minimal here when it does come in, until the last few minutes of the song where everything picks up to a less zoned-out space. 4. "Sinai" - Feeling like a lead up to the album closer, the track brings a stomping mass feel and keeps things moving forward. More of a filler track, but works well w/ the album. 5. "Haqq Al-Yaqin" - W/out getting heavy, this track brings a lot of energy back to the fold. A strong bass hook assisted by violins, cellos as well as a tabla, drives the song. The second half changes into a beautiful swirling sunset evening w/ a bit of an Asiatic feeling to it, leaving the album on a peaceful note. While this album does continue on a long established road, the subject matter has reached full circle and despite finding the whole album very enjoyable, one does have to admit the ferocity that once marked the band seemed to have been exchanged for a wise, thoughtful and contemplative approach. For better or worse time will only tell, assuming Om keeps the balance working, but I have little doubt that Om will continue to be exactly what it needs to be, when it needs to be it. Be damned if that forgoes absolute heavy riffage.