Press "Enter" to skip to content

Every OM Album Ranked Worst to Best

Well, it’s that time of year, isn’t it? That time of year when the holidays end and New Year’s resolutions are being abandoned at break-neck speeds and we’re left with the gross, dirty, sludgy part of winter. What better way to engage in the season than with the grayest, sludgiest music on the market?

We offer to you: OM. Originally formed by Al Cisneros and Chris Hakius as a spin-off band from the iconic stoner-metal group Sleep (Remember them? Remember when your uncle told you about them that one time?) OM is doom metal cranked to its sludgiest, doomiest best. The songs are massive, sprawling, epic things. And in many ways, the band casts themselves in the foil role to Black Sabbath. Rather than singing songs about wizards and demons, OM sings songs about old time-ee Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist iconography, with sprinkles of Eastern Philosophy and Crowley-esque esotericism, this band has a gorgeously appropriative aesthetic that will make you say: “Huh, I wonder what Scarlet Johansson is up to right now?” But how do their albums stack up? Well, read on and find out.

5. God is Good (2009)

The trouble with OM’s fourth album, “God is Good” isn’t that it’s bad. It’s far from it. The trouble is that it feels like a step backward creatively. Which is too bad really, because this album marks the debut of Emil Amos as the group’s new drummer. There is a lot going on here, with the droning, desert-like opening to “Thebes” sounding like a call to worship, and “Cremation Ghat I” adding in elements of funk-bass playing, but ultimately, it feels like the band became too scared after the intensity of their previous album and stepped back into a comfort zone. Like a homeschooled kid who’s tried public school for a year and demanded his Mom pull him back out of it.

Play it again: “Cremation Ghat I”
Skip it: “Meditation Is the Practice of Death”

4. Pilgrimage (2007)

OM’s third album and the last one to feature the classic Cisneros/Hakius line-up, there’s something deeply interesting about “Pilgrimage” as a sort of bridge album. The songs are shorter. One of them is even (gasp) under five minutes. Which is going at Bad Brains adjacent speeds by doom metal standards. And yet, for the increased energy and intensity, there’s something really pleasant and enjoyable about this album. It makes you wanna get up and spasm the night away on the dance floor.

Play it again: “Pilgrimage”
Skip it: “Pilgrimage (Reprise)”

3. Variations on a Theme (2005)

OM’s debut album does one thing exceptionally well: It announces itself in spectacular fashion. From the abrasive opening to “On the Mountain at Dawn,” to the trashing, angry lawn-mower-like bass playing of Al Cisneros, to the over 20-minute long opening track. It’s easy to tell what this band is about right from the jump. And there’s something really spectacular about that. This is also the record metal fans will likely find themselves most drawn to, with more precise vocals and songs about priestesses and blue stone moons, the whole thing plays like a game of “Dungeons and Dragons” played in the midst of a DayQuil overdose.

Play it again: “Annapurna”
Skip it: “Kapila’s Theme”

2. Advaitic Songs (2012)

Oh. Hell. Yes. They’re pulling out all the stops for this one: Religious chanting? Check. Lush and engaging production design? Check. Singing in Sanskrit? Check please, waiter. There’s a fly in my soup and I want it comped, ASAP. Once you see the scowling John the Baptist cover art, you know you’re in for a treat. “Advaitic Songs” is definitely the sound one would probably expect when hearing that OM is a doom metal/stoner metal outfit that plays songs that are widely indebted to Middle Eastern religion and philosophy. And that’s just wonderful. Give the people what they want, says I.

Play it again: “Gethsemane”
Skip it: No skip album

1. Conference of the Birds (2006)

If the word “sophomore” means “wise fool,” then is not the greatest fool the fool that unwisely thrones himself as wise and yet dubs the wise foolish? I say it shall! In any case, OM’s sophomore record, “Conference of the Birds” is unquestionably the group’s masterpiece. Truly with this one OM succeeded in creating the score to an unmade Kenneth Anger film. With just two songs (both clocking in at over 15 minutes long), there is definitely a limited menu here. And yet, just like at a trendy restaurant, a limited menu is actually part of the charm here.  But with the droning drums of Chris Hakius and the hypnotic bass and hushed vocals of Al Cisneros, it’s more than enough.

Play it again: “At Giza”
Skip it: Nah.