Om is a metal band — sort of. I should just get that out of the way first, because otherwise the following is going to seem misleading. Okay, here goes: Om’s new album is called God Is Good. Bandleader Al Cisneros has described the songs on the album as “personal prayers” to a higher power. The opening track, “Thebes,” is more than 19 minutes long, much of it made up of drones reminiscent of Indian classical music. The vocals don’t start until three minutes and 28 seconds into the song. There isn’t a solid drumbeat until after the six-minute mark, and there’s no distorted guitar until almost nine minutes have passed. Well, actually, it’s a bass. There’s no guitar in Om. Yes, this is a (sort of) metal band with the occasional sitar, but no guitarist.
Cisneros has been working toward this sort of thing since the early ’90s when he was the bassist in Sleep, a San Jose stoner metal band with a sound so dark and sludgy that Black Sabbath sounds like the Archies in comparison. When Sleep broke up, Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius formed Om as a bass-drums duo. (Sleep’s Matt Pike went on to form High on Fire. Sleep reunited briefly earlier this year for two shows at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England.)
Om has always had a quasi-religious quality to their music that’s worlds away from typical stoner rock fare, but God Is Good is a bold step further. After Hakius left in early 2008, Emil Amos joined on drums, and Om has gone deeper into the mystic, turning metal into a kind of meditation.
OM: The Casbah, Saturday, September 26, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $13.