While Post-Metal may be considered a genre, the mere mention of the term “post” brings most metal heads to rage-filled tears. And it’s understandable, the word ‘post’ means after, thus it implies that metal is over. That, even worse, this new invention, full of watered down takes on the holy genre of metal is here to replace the greatest of genres. Add the term “gaze” to any word and you will get an even more severe reaction. But hold the line, heads. For He Whose Ox is Gored is here to let us know that all can be OK. On their third release, The Camel, The Lion, The Child, He Whose Ox is Gored prove that post-metal, doomgaze with sludge influences can somehow be a brilliant and beautiful take on heavy music.
Loathe to play a straight forward drum beat, their drummer, John O’Connell , searches for new ways to hold the beat while inserting interesting and unexpected frills. This pushes the band into more distinct and inventive songwriting territory. Fortunately, their bassist, Mike Sparks, is more than capable of keeping up and the more astral gazey parts of the record are full on drum and bass grooves.
Multi-instrumentalist Lisa Mungo sings on “Crusade” and “Alpha” providing a voice that would be more at home in a pop setting (and at times sounds like The Cranberries). Rather than distract, however, her voice enhances the music. As her voice weaves it’s way slowly into the track, first as a mere harmony to Brian McClelland and then later as the focal point, the song depth takes a decidedly head bobbing tone. The Camel, The Lion, The Child becomes, at these moments, more of a soundtrack or soundscape than it does a collection of songs, transcending boundaries of track by track and creating a work that is only to be taken as a whole.
The album is not without critique. First off, it’s excessively long. The final track provides nearly nothing and is a major departure from the successful sounds of the first seven tracks. Even if the final track was deleted the album would still be at 42-minutes. And a breathtaking 42-minutes at that. But, other than that track, the album is near perfection. Shocking for a genre that usually incites more arguments on Twitter than praise.