If there’s one word that describes Aaron Turner’s musical output, it’d have to be “indulgent.” There’s no way to meet him on his projects in any way other than completely on his terms and those terms frequently dictate that you endure one drawn out riff or sample-laden noise track after another. ISIS went this direction with a vengeance after the well-balanced Oceanic, and Old Man Gloom’s NO does as well in its own way. It may not have the insufferable, never-ending shoegaze weakness that ISIS gave into, but on past albums like Seminar II/III and especially Christmas, for every ripper you got (“Volcano”), you also have two or three noise experiments to dig past as well.
Still, No is able to balance the mood-setting parts of the album with the actual songs better than past OMG efforts. “Rats” starts off with a few minutes of noisy, atmospheric noodling, but then the band comes in full-force, throwing in some very Doomriders-esque riffs without any extra fuss, and then exits in a squall of feedback. It’s likely not a coincidence that the track, one of the most straightforward and least indulgent (along with “To Carry the Flame”), is voiced by Nate Newton of Converge and Doomriders. “Common Species” starts out strong, “Shuddering Earth” veers into indulgent territory, fitting since it’s voiced by Turner, but manages to not lose its momentum, instead bringing guitars and drums alike just to the point of tedium before easing back. Once the song ends, though, there’s still that four minutes of tedious feedback, bordering on hearing damage.
It’s good to see Turner and the rest of the OMG guys still putting out material, and the obnoxious filler tracks are easy enough to skip past. However, when you have a band that is so much more effective and enjoyable when they go for the throat, it makes it that much more annoying that there’s filler to skip past to begin with.