Fire Note Says: Brooklyn’s Naam works to stand out with their groovy Vow.
Album Review: Naam is a band that’s put me in quite a pickle. Their second LP Vow was really trying very hard to get me to like it. With influences ranging from Wolfmother to Graveyard, from Black Sabbath to Black Mountain, and Sleep to Witch, they have a good sense of mysterious grandeur, as well as a psychedelic movement associated with most top acts of the trance/sludge/drone/stoner movement. But, all that aside, Naam’s Vow also kept giving me reminders of why I shouldn’t get too excited. After listening to their 11 minute behemoth “Kingdom” off their debut Kingdom EP, I had the feeling that Naam was straying farther from greatness, as opposed to chugging toward it.
What really makes a record like this work for me (aside from lyrics and instrumentation) is tones, mood, and production. Yes, Sleep’s Dopesmoker is an hour long affair, but it’s the brilliance of crunch, punishment, and brutality that uplift and enhance the repetitive, sludge nature. The same goes for classics like Sabbath’s Paranoid, Neurosis’ Enemy of The Sun, and Electric Wizard’s Dopethrone. Vow doesn’t seem to add enough variety to separate itself from the pack. Second track, “Vow” has the right idea with a dark and heavy bass line but its generic predictability hampers the track. On a positive note, Naam does seem to borrow from a large swath of artists, and it knows them well. “Pardoned Pleasure” rumbles forward with a huge Black Angels influence and maintains even more dynamics from there. The looming organ seems peeled right out of a Black Mountain song, while the sleepy slow down draws from Sabbath, and the amped-up breakdown gallops forward with stripped-down Sleep feel.
Whether they help or hurt the album, Vow is broken up by these little organ/instrumental pieces. I lean toward harmful as they can seem a bit disruptive toward Vow’s progression. But, one to give credit to is “Brightest Sight” which leads into another highlight, “Of the Hour”. While bordering on repetitive, almost Doors-like in nature, this combo releases some of the best organ grooves on the album.
These guys are right up my alley and I really really wanted to give this record more praise. But, like I said before Naam’s Vow just kept giving me reason to knock its score down. I can celebrate that Naam has a clear direction and in that aspect they nailed it. But are there other bands out there that show more dynamics? You be the judge.
Key Tracks: “Pardoned Pleasure”, “Of The Hour”, “Beyond”
Artists With Similar Fire: Quest For Fire / Black Sabbath / Om
Tee Pee Records
-Reviewed by Christopher Tahy