The promotional campaign/unconventional-release strategy behind Old Man Gloom’s upcoming The Ape Of God is one of the weirdest I’ve ever come across. I’ll recount it as best as I am able: Back in August, the Canadian metal label Profound Lore Records (home to Agalloch, Pallbearer, and a bunch of other awesome bands) sent to media outlets an advance of an upcoming eight-song record called The Ape Of God, from the band Old Man Gloom, which was due for release in November. On September 11, the band publicly shared a song from The Ape Of God called “The Lash” (which I wrote about here and which was later featured in that month’s Black Market), and on September 29, they shared another Ape Of God track, “Predators.” Nothing unusual so far! Then, last week, Old Man Gloom posted the following message on their Facebook page:
Guess what, assholes. The Ape Of God is two entirely different albums. If you downloaded some leaked shit, you don’t have either. You have some bogus version we gave to press, cuz we knew those jerks would leak it (if you reviewed that fake record positively, thank you. We’re just THAT good).
We will always trick you.
We will always trick you.
We will always trick you.
Indeed, the fake record had received quite a few positive reviews! And people had been tricked! In fact, at some point over the past few months, Metalsucks actually got a tip from a reader suggesting that something appeared to be askew (there were apparently two different Ape Of God pre-order pages on Amazon), so the site reached out to Old Man Gloom frontman Aaron Turner for explanation, and he straight-up lied. Turner replied to Metalsucks via email:
Not sure what’s going over at Amazon …
All I can think of is that there were alternate versions of the art and track sequence/track titles when we were in the developmental stages of the album and that’s confusing things. I sent them around to Profound Lore and the band members and the Japanese label ….sooo??? Also since there are 3 labels involved in putting out the record (SIGE, Profound Lore, Daymare) maybe that’s fucking things up?
I’ll ask [Profound Lore’s] Chris Bruni if he can straighten that out.
Thanks for bringing this to our attention!
I didn’t publish an actual review myself, but in my writeup of “The Lash,” I did have kind words to say about the decoy, calling the album (or the thing I believed to be the album), “a lurching, bone-splintering beast that lives up to its fucking awesome title.” Anyway, soon after the band posted their Facebook update, Profound Lore clarified somewhat via Twitter:
That's right, "The Ape Of God" is the two new OLD MAN GLOOM albums. Two new full length albums by OLD MAN GLOOM with the same album title.
— ProfoundLore Records (@profound_lore) November 6, 2014
Make sense now? No? OK, so here’s the deal: On November 11, Old Man Gloom will release two new albums. Both those albums are called The Ape Of God. One has eight tracks, the other has four tracks, but both are roughly the same length (45-or-so minutes apiece). Both albums were created by the same group of musicians (Aaron Turner, Nate Newton, Caleb Scofield, Santos Montano, and Luke Scarola), and were recorded, engineered, and mixed by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou (Kvelertak, Disfear, Black Breath). They are not two halves of the same album, or one album split into two parts. They are two distinct albums by one band, each with the same title, released on the same day.
NOW THAT WE’VE GOT THAT STRAIGHT, let me explain the decoy album: The version of The Ape Of God that went to press (and which one of “those jerks” seemingly did leak) is not exactly “bogus.” It’s more like a sampler of tracks from both LPs, except that the songs were not only presented out of context, but edited. For instance, the version of “The Lash” that I wrote about — the one that was on the decoy advance — clocked in at 2:57, but the version that appears on the eight-song Ape Of God LP is 6:56. But the four minutes excised were composed of ambient drift; in context, those four minutes build up to the three-minute “song” premiered by the band back in September: a pummeling, pile-driving barrage of furious sludge-noise.
Is that still confusing? I feel like maybe it is. I’m still confused! Just the same, we’ve got one of the two new Old Man Gloom albums for you to stream in full today. As you know, it is called The Ape Of God. This is the eight-song The Ape Of God (the one with “The Lash”), not the four-song one (the one with “Predators”). Sadly, because so much of this writeup was dedicated to untangling and explicating the switcheroo, I left myself without time to actually write about the music. So I’ll say this first: I haven’t spent much time with the four-song Ape Of God, but the one we have here is flat-out great. It’s catchy and kinetic and thrilling and weird. It incorporates genres beyond the aforementioned sludge, noise, and ambient (death metal, crust, post-rock, doom), and not only seamlessly fuses them, but does so with an approach to structure that feels totally unique and new. I’ll also say again what I said in my initial writeup of “The Lash”:
Aaron Turner’s great post-metal band Isis called it quits in 2010, and his great indie metal label Hydra Head Records effectively shut down in 2012, but the dude has not exactly decreased his workload. He’s got a new label called SIGE, and he makes music with a bunch of other bands, most prominent among them the supergroup Old Man Gloom, which has been kicking since 2001, but went on hiatus for eight years starting in 2004. In 2012, a relaunched Old Man Gloom released their excellent fifth LP, NO, which would end up being one of Hydra Head’s final releases. As of now, it seems reasonable to assume OMG is Turner’s primary vehicle: Not only does the band have a new album on the way, but that album is being released by the venerable Profound Lore Records. What’s more, that album is a lurching, bone-splintering beast that lives up to its fucking awesome title, The Ape Of God. If you let it, it will topple your equilibrium and reset your vertebral column. Let it.
Anyway, I stand by that assessment: The Ape Of God is a filthy, mighty, unpredictable, enormous monster. And now there are two of them. Here’s one.
You can also stream the other The Ape Of God right now over at The Quietus.
The Ape Of God is (are?) out 11/11 via Profound Lore.