Rot by Ohhms

Release date: March 31, 2023
Label: Church Road Records

Ah, the pandemic. Remember that? Making banana bread, doing exercise routines via video call, and avoiding people. Well, while most of the population was doing that, Paul Waller, the lead vocalist for Ohhms, passed the purgatorial period with far more productive pursuits. He not only set about watching a plethora of horror movies, but he also started a podcast about them.

Oh, and he and the band also wrote an album with every song title sharing the name of a classic (or at the very least, under-rated or intrinsically worthy of inclusion) scary flick. And this is the result.

And boy, it sounds like they had fun doing it.

For long-time fans of Ohhms, this will come as quite a departure from their previous albums, with their long, complex, po-faced songs about animal rights and other weighty topics. Rot consists of eight blood-soaked songs blasted through in a mere 37 minutes. It does not mess about.

As unwieldy as Ohhms’ earlier works were, there were always hooks contained within the opuses. And with the radio-friendly song lengths on Rot, the hooks are far more concentrated. For starters, the descending riff to tee up the chorus on the opening track ‘Let’s Scare Jessica to Death’ is one I could listen to for days.

Then there is ‘Mephisto Waltz’, which is imbued with a swagger and groove which might even make the most curmudgeonly sludge-metal fan wiggle their hips.

And closing track ‘Swamp Thing’, with its satisfying drone backing vocal in the chorus and bouncy guitar vamp, almost makes you want to seek out the eponymous monster. It is the album’s highlight, hands down.

There are a couple of mis-steps on the album – it gets a bit samey in the middle and the less said about the repeated high-pitched “body melt” lyric in the song of the same name the better. The album sounds like the band were enjoying themselves so much drenched in the gore of aural representations of  horror classics they did not notice or care that the whole project was veering towards the one-dimensional.

That said, it is well worth a spin. There is something to be said about an album with no basis whatsoever in reality – lord knows we could all do with some escapism. And even the less successful songs on the album don’t stick around for too long.

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