The Californian sub-rock outlet Thee Oh Sees come swinging into the game with a ball of fire under their seats on their newest piece of mangled work, Smote Reverser. Frequently, Thee Oh Sees have been on the radar for their frantic influx of heavy droning tracks of sporadic sound that transpose standard forms. They are an outlet in which music is a loose adaptation that becomes manipulated throughout the wild ride of their previous releases.
Smote Reverser is the newest love child of John Dwyer, Tim Hellman, Dan Rincon, and Paul Quattrone who formally go under the name of just Oh Sees, losing the Thee for another time. With the Castle Face Records brand standing tall behind them, Oh Sees are the old-timers on the block with a career spanning nearly 20-years in total. Through multiple line-up changes, shifts to the sound, and with a new interface and change of paint; Thee Oh Sees are ready to conquer the world through one continent at a time.
Opening with the ambient work of “Sentient Oona” that holds the lock and key to the real madness that is Oh Sees’ remaining discography. There is an overbearing sense of enlightenment that shines through as the bass chords start to vibrate the walls and the backbone of the listener. With the quiet vocal performance that is higher pitched, along with the wolfpack of whistling that becomes the calling card of “Sentient Oona”, the curtain draws back to reveal a twisted beast of both desire and ugliness within Smote Reverser.
Almost instantly the rush of unapologetic performance comes from Oh Sees, but something is slightly different on Smote Reverser. The playing field has been shifted so that the pieces of Oh Sees feel more digestible and hidden. As the pieces are set in motion, the band starts to form the killing blows of sudden segues into rampages and outbursts that keep the listener on their toes at all points of the record. It was one of the first records from a familiar band that had this kind of directionless drive toward an ultimate end that feels elongated throughout the centers that is covered by the introduction and outro.
The entire album blends together into one flowing track that is covered by the pauses between tracks to break the movement. This form is perfect for the way that Oh Seescan operate as they continue to break the form, realign, and ultimately crash through the layering. As the blood starts to rush with tracks “Overthrown” or “Abysmal Urn”, Oh Sees make quick work of the adaptability of the band. As they form into the new walls of almost raging rock, the band is steady on their increase and does not miss a step throughout Smote Reverser.
The hour long journey is then met with a somber shuffle out into the void as the incoming synths and bass opens the Oh Sees wide and lets the listener climb out of the hole that was dug for them. As the coffin shuts however, there is still some sense of fulfillment coming from the end as Smote Reverser is an interesting and engaged new addition to the Oh Sees twisted and vivid world.