Seattle’s He Whose Ox Is Gored are one those bands who don’t sound anything like you’d imagine from their chosen name. It conjures high brow death metal to me, but they are, well, I’m not sure what they are and I’m not sure the band have exactly figured it out either. They describe their sound as ‘doomgaze’, which is a new one on me, and after listening to this EP ”Rumors” I’m still none the wiser.
First up ‘Void Assault’ has a tech metal intro with shimmering, pristine keys and multi-tracked vocals from Lisa Mungo. As the bass takes the lead a few minutes in I’m expecting a prog metal epic, but then the song ends and it feels like an excerpt from something longer. With its ethereal female vocals above busy instrumentation it reminds me of hAND, recently reviewed on this site, but a more hesitant, less confident version.
‘Buried Twice’ has a grungy feel, a less complicated arrangement, and is a sort of anguished psychelic doom, reminiscent of Seattle legends Soundgarden. Again though the track seems to ends too soon. It may be that the band like to operate within the confines of three minute songs, trying to create interesting, progressive music without running to indulgent, extravagant lengths, akin to new psyche darlings Syd Arthur. However the songs are not yet punchy enough to work as three minute, radio-friendly confections.
The title track ‘Rumors’ is the best stand alone moment, driving progressive metal with edge and purpose and a stronger melody. You are still not left with any strong sense of the bands identity though, and ”Rumors” is essentially three half decent, intelligent rock songs played by musicians obviously bright minded but lacking much personality.