The was my first gig of the new decade and let’s just say it was an optimal start: in between constant emails concerning coronavirus, essay deadlines and general oddness, last Saturday was eventful. With full nights at YES, Sisters of Mercy in town, and Deco Records putting on a grand bill at The Peer Hat we arrive at an early show… OHHMS.
OHHMS, known in the prog-metal circuit and gracing the ArcTanGent 2020 festival among others, are a Kent based 5-piece with a “layered on thick” approach to their sound, and an astonishing live vigour. Known in the underground scene for the drama of their songs, most notably seen in ‘Subjects,’ sung from the perspective of a captured laboratory animal, containing harrowing moments through all the acts described. They are a force to be reckoned with.
I personally was giddy about this gig for a number of reasons. Firstly, the opportunity to describe a different kind of venue, Satan’s Hollow. I have never been in before, a virgin of the establishment, so I was very happy to be christened by watching OHHMS. Sandwiched between Chinatown and the Gay Village, along a side street and up a metal staircase reminiscent of an Addams Family museum tour, you are transported to the world of 2000s metal music, Tenacious D music video sets and very charming Satan themed… everything! An actual giant devil, arms outstretched, points to where the DJ booth is, cobwebs in every direction, and of course, the stage in the centre of the venue with a giant OHHMS banner facing out to the audience with Orange amplifiers all set to optimum volume, already shaping up to be a grand night based on presentation alone.
But looks aren’t everything. In this case it doesn’t build the hype to what occurs next, the main support band, Hundred-Year-Old Man, come out, embraced by light and poised in a slow build of sound, eventually reaching a crescendo of brutal screaming, harmonic distortions and atmospheric sounds pummelling through the audience. Whilst they only play three songs (totalling approximately thirty minutes) they have absolutely made a grand impression.
When OHHMS finally enter the scene, it is quite humbling, no grand entrance nor light show, just them picking up their instruments, a “Hi, We’re OHHMS” and a brief message before it is clear to why there was no flashing display. They immediately launch into ‘Firearms’ and it is a sight to behold; the sheer force like a tank crashing through your living room. The band came into life: the front man broke down the mic stand into the ground like a crazed gravedigger, the bassist lunged whilst lifting his bass over his head and through the air not missing a beat, both guitarists stationed at either side of the stage, like guardians to the gates of hell, whilst the drums are unleashing an irregular marching beat.
Into the set it only gets more and more intense with new and more feral songs, coupled with classics of the OHHMS discography, including ‘The Magician’ and ‘The World’ (from the album The Fool). These songs, played live, bring a whole new definition engraved in the brain of each and every audience member, screaming along and moving with each peak and trough of the set, until it’s grand finale.
One of their earliest contributions to the world, and one of their best, reining in at around 22 minutes, ‘The Anchor’ is compromised of three acts, each gradually more awesome than the last, and ends in the entire band collapsing into crushing waves of ferocity (and the bassist climbing a pillar like a pole dancer whist raking his bass against it). As the final moments echo out with “SAIL ON!”, I cannot think of a better way to end this set, even with an early half-past-nine finish before a club night, OHHMS showed their mettle (pun intended) and we hope to see them back in Manchester Soon.