I anticipated this album with an enormous desire. You know, one often anticipates their favourite bands' albums and expects a lot - this was the case with myself and this release. Oh God, how I hoped it will be as good as the previous albums and indeed my eager anticipation had paid off very well. I didn't think that it was possible for Al to outreach himself, but again - he did. How does the guy do it? I have no idea, but I only now that he has created once more a really diverse and great album. I know that some people find "God is good" as a weaker album, but in my opinion everything in the Om list is second to none. There is no other band whose music sounds so religiously and absurdly high and close to God. Maybe only Sleep, funnily enough. Al Cisneros has this ability of creating these profoundly good masterpieces of music, be it fucking heavy stoner doom or Om's strange mixture of religious bass-influenced Indian/Arabic holiness.
I'm not going to dissect this album commenting techniques or to present any band history or info for the band members. If this is what you seek - there are already other reviews and not only on this website, you can go read them. My review is only about the feelings. Because Om as a band is totally different from any other band and so is the music. And with the absence of guitar players what could you expect? Om consists of only two members and it results in the "oddness" of the tunes - which are about opening your inner self.
First and foremost, if you have never listened to the band - there is nothing metal here, so don't expect that. There is even no stoner. As I said to my best friend when she asked me to recommend her Om songs - you have to be ready for a band like that. It's not something you play to your roommates hoping they will get it. To embrace their concept and art, to listen not only with your ears, but with your inner self. In my opinion, to wholly enjoy this band, you have to gather some knowledge about the Eastern philosophies and the Bible, but that's another story.
Advaitic songs resembles all previous records concerning the concept and partly the music. It's not as droney and In this one the religious idea and the one about emerging from your temporary body to unite with the universe is even stronger. There are certain songs like "Sinai" which sound very much like the kind of music pilgrims would listen to in a Hindu temple. What may put down someone is that the use of heavy bass is not so common, meaning that there are songs in which it is barely as heavy and as present as you would expect for an Om album. However, it is compensated with other means. The use of cello is very audible. The addition of female vocals, piano and tambura also makes this album greatly varied and it is obvious that a lot of work has been put into it. One song in which the bass riff is like a foundation for the other instruments (including the voice) and therefore really audible and strong is the fantastic "State of Non Return". It has one of the best lyrics in Al's career and is actually the most "heavy" and not so transcendental song regarding the music as it's angrier and a lot more dynamic than the others.
"Traveler now reach the stream. The astral flight adapter.
From the pain-sheath life ascends - the Non-returner sees.
Empathy release me - and the phoenix rise triumphant.
And walks onto the certitude ground - the soul's submergence ends. "
My personal favourite (or second prize holder) is "Gethsemane". A little history:
"Gethsemane is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem most famous as the place where, according to the gospels, Jesus and his disciples are said to have prayed the night before he was arrested, the day before his death. " Reading this you can imagine the concept behind the song. I myself always visualise in my mind a sort of a high celestial mount where priests have gathered in long robes. Al's vocals are really strong and slow as if he has a mission to tell a story from the Bible, not to sing his own lyrics. Drums and bass unite together to perform one of the most well-structured and balanced Om tunes ever. The song starts in this rather slow, "introductory" pace, like a mist forming near the top of a high mountain. The use of many instruments helps further for the creation of the magical atmosphere, especially the cello. I'd mark the cellist with an "A", but unfortunately I don't know his/her name.
All songs on "Advaitic songs" are a fine piece of work. It is obvious that all the musicians, apart from Al and Emil, have put a great deal of soul and professionalism in it. It wouldn't have been complete without the fine use of cello and the female vocals in "Addis" and the gospel singing in "Sinai". These make the record really weird, but at the same time something you haven't heard before. I really like spinning this without missing a song or feeling bored for a second. This release is really a state of art, even on the Al Cisneros scale.
Note: Full album.