Written by Brandon Biallas
Impressions from the Om and Wovenhand show at The Nile Theater in Mesa on May 15, 2019.
Both Om and tour mates, Wovenhand, set the mood for a warm desert evening last week at The Nile Theater with their unique, mesmerizing blends of metal that kept the crowds captivated in trance.
To kick the evening off, fans were treated to a truly unique take on music that has to be seen to be believed. Denver, CO natives, Wovenhand are often described as alternative country music with an eclectic array of influences like folk, gospel, and southern-Gothic music. These labels come close but don’t completely do justice in describing the band’s sound and the overall experience of watching them perform together live. Lead vocalist/guitarist David Eugene Edwards put on a spectacle like no other while performing, often physically acting out his lyrics as if he was playing charades with the audience. This was especially impressive, considering the balancing act that is singing, playing guitar, and doing what seemed like very well-thought out choreography at the same time; forming a bow and arrow with his arms and aiming it around the room, gesturing and spinning his arms like only the most experienced and cultured storytellers can. Edwards and the rest of the band come across as highly passionate artists looking to spread the messages of their music while also pushing the boundaries of genres far beyond their comfort zones.
As San Francisco-based heavy metal trio Om took the stage, the house lights suddenly faded into deep shades of blue, evoking emotions of hypnotic desperation. Om’s music has an otherworldly vibe that emanates from the stage and commands attention. The hypnotic mix of frenetic drum grooves from drummer Emil Amos, monumentally powerful fuzz bass, along with the soothing layer of melotron chords spread on top of the mix make listeners feel as if they’re deep into the throes of hallucinations brought on by traveling long distances in the burning desert.
As vocalist/bassist Al Cisneros swapped between two beautiful Rickenbacker basses, it was plain to see how the man’s musical style is a big draw for the band. Infectious basslines gradually envelope your ears in the hauntingly soothing low frequencies fans have come to know and love. The way Cisneros plays (and what he’s playing) almost seem unending, as if the drones of his low strings could ring out for years until the last of humanity dies out. As farfetched as this may seem, this idea can be supported by an interview Cisneros gave with The AV Club commenting on the departure of former drummer and friend, Chris Hakius in 2008. When asked about what happened, Cisneros elaborated:
“We still talk and are still friends. He’s since basically retired from playing — he’s onto a different phase. For me there is no end to the song. No option.”
The drums were an incredible sight to behold as Emil Amos’ limbs flurried around his kit with the precision of a machine. Without a tom fill or cymbal crash out of place, the contrast between the wild, yet steady grooves of the drumming and the beautifully lush soundscapes of the keyboards combined to give the music an undeniably hypnotic feel.
With the exception of one obnoxious concert-goer shouting “How are you?!” every few songs, the crowd remained silent in a combination of awe and respect, only clapping when appropriate and rarely before the song was complete — it was a concert experience unlike any other. The band has an incredibly loyal and strong following that only seems to be growing with age.