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Five Albums That Changed My Life: Santos Montano of Old Man Gloom

Jasom Hellmann

Featuring members of Converge, Isis, Cave In, Zozobra, Doomriders, Mamiffer, and other bands Noisecreep approves of, Old Man Gloom are what we like to call a “post-everything” band. Formed in 1999, the group drop elements of everything from doom, hardcore, metal (and anything that falls in between) into their songwriting stew.

In 2011, after eight years away from the recording studio, Old Man Gloom hooked up with Kurt Ballou (GodCity Studio) and collaborated on NO, their fifth studio album. Hitting stores today, NO is a must-own for any fan of forward-thinking, chance-taking heavy music.

Since we’re digging the new record so much, Noisecreep asked Old Man Gloom drummer Santos Montano to take part in our ongoing ‘Five Albums That Changed My Life’ series.

Pyromania, Def Leppard (1983)

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“My mom gave me this on LP, Christmas morning, 1984. I listened to ‘Rock of Ages’ over and over on my little plastic record player I had received as a set with children’s books. You’d read the book and play the record at the same time, and the record would beep, and you’d turn the page. While this album doesn’t hold up very well as a full album(in my humble opinion), it was the very first album I owned, and was more formative than almost anything else in my life. I loved it, and while very soon after this I became obsessed with Iron Maiden, Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, and the rest, this was my gateway. To be fair to ‘Pyromania,’ ‘Rock of Ages,’ ‘Photograph,’ and ‘Foolin” are amazing pop songs, and it’s pretty widely accepted that the guys could fuckin play. It also has to take credit for launching the ’80s metal explosion into the mainstream, so I’m not alone in being led to metal through Pyromania.”

Suicidal Tendencies, Suicidal Tendencies (1983)

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“This was a big one for us. Us being myself and my older brother. I was very fortunate to have him, as I was in awe of everything he did, and he got into some pretty awesome shit, therefore I got into awesome shit very young. I remember him bringing home this record, and just pouring over the album jacket. We were Hispanic, and most of the men in our lives were seedy, macho, cholos, or at least appropriating the cholo aesthetic. So we always caught shit for not dressing in the typical Mexican American style. That was usually coupled with being accused of “wanting to be white”. So here we were, listening to this amazing, aggressive, fast, punk as fuck band, singing about shooting Reagan, committing suicide, killing their moms, and they fuckin looked like everyone around us. It was mind-blowing.

All of a sudden being into skating, and into punk was combined with being Chicano. That was huge for us. We had an identity, and a representative in music that we were fully behind. And there were no caveats, nothing embarrassing that you had to make excuses for. Especially not the music. Front to back this record is awesome. Of course, the classics, ‘Institutionalized,’ ‘I Saw Your Mommy,’ ‘Fascist Pig,’ but I’m maybe even more into some of the ones you don’t hear as much like ‘Won’t Fall in Love,’ ‘I Want More,’ and ‘Possessed.’ Awesome. Of course ST let us down and became very embarrassing, but by that time we moved on to heavier shit, and didn’t need to make excuses. Although someone needs to answer for Still Cyco After All These Years.”

Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious, Carcass (1991)

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“OK, so I’m gonna cheat (myself) a little. This was a hard period to choose from, because honestly, Deicide‘s first record and Morbid Angel‘s Altars of Madness were the albums that launched me into my love of extreme music, but I can’t listen to either of those anymore. They sound like dog shit, and don’t particularly hold up. Just my opinion. BUT this record, holy shit. Still something I listen to a lot. I think it stands as the triumph of those early Earache albums. It was just something I had never heard. Terrifying vocals, the classics Carcass medical school book lyrics, technically awesome playing, and on top of that, the thing that a lot of those records just didn’t have, melody, and hooks. Hooks flying all over the place. Guitar hooks, of course, growly vocal hooks, but in the classic intro to ‘Corporeal Jigsore Quandary’ we got a drum hook. I remember being floored, and listening to the intro over and over again, because it was double bass, which i was obsessed with, but it was unique, and somehow, really really catchy. The whole album is like that, just moment after moment that had to be replayed. More eloquent people than myself have written about this record, so if you need to be told exactly why this is so awesome, it’s out there, but for 14-year-old, and 34-year-old Santos Montano, this was, and is a masterpiece. Sepultura‘s Arise was my runner up, but that wasn’t technically “death metal”.”

Until Your Heart Stops, Cave In (1998)

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“So in thinking about albums that changed my life, this is very representative of a big picture for me. This came out at a time where I was very stuck in New Mexico, and very stuck musically in the shitty crust punk, and late ’90s emo-pop that was unavoidable. Don’t get me wrong, some of that music is very nostalgic for me, but it wasn’t what I wanted to be involved with in any way. So my old friend Aaron (Turner) had started his label Hydra Head, and he would come home to Santa Fe in the summers. One trip home he gave me a copy of Until Your Heart Stops. Again, it was a moment I remember very very clearly. I was expecting some Boston-y Hardcore, or something along those lines, and what came on, first 10 seconds of the first song was something magical. It was heavy, of course, and it was shreddy, but there was something new in there.

The metal side of me was trying to wrap my head around the heavy riffs, the seemingly impossible shredding, the weird double bass beats, and the over the top screaming, but on the other hand, this guy had an amazing singing voice, and there were these beautiful expanses of delay laden, melodic guitar, and often, all in one song. The flip flopping between brutal and pretty was effortless, and seamless, and unlike the god awful bullshit we’re exposed to today, wasn’t a distraction, but actually felt like a well crafted song. It changed a lot of peoples lives. Theirs, of course, Aaron and all at Hydra Head, a whole slew of bands trying to imitate it, but it changed my life because it opened my eyes to a group of musicians that I wanted, and needed to be a part of. I was lucky enough to be thrust head first into their world after that, to my own disbelief, and have be fortunate enough to play in bands with every one of them (except JR, of course), but I always had to, and still have to play it cool, because I was a superfan first.”

Jailbreak, Thin Lizzy (1976)

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“So that leaves me with adulthood, and anyone who knows me, knows that there are 2 things that are unquestionable, and absolutes. Thin Lizzy and Manchester United. I’ll save the Manchester United paragraph for another publication, but Thin Lizzy, best band ever. Often I’ll drive around with my wife, and play TL at full volume, and I’ll have to turn it down, and point to my cheek to show her that there are tears coming out of my eyes. This happens often, his voice bringing me to tears. I don’t know how to explain it, and to other fans of TL I don’t have to, but there’s something very emotional about his voice, and how he puts vocals to music. Something special, that even when a black Irish guy singing about being a cowboy busting broncs, it’s striking, and heartfelt, and has a strange sadness flowing underneath the surface. That subconscious sadness actually runs through a lot of songs, and of course the circumstances of his life and death add to the over analysis of every word, in meaning, and sound. That of course isn’t even mentioning fuckin’ guitars.

The sweetest guitar melodies you’ve ever heard. Also, Brian Downey is one of the most underrated drummer in classic rock. No one talks much about the rhythm section, but those two, Phil and Brian, doing the dirty work so that there was a clean white canvas to shred over. If you’re not privy to Thin Lizzy, Jailbreak is the place to start. It’s maybe not my favorite of their albums (Black Rose, hands down) but it’s their best. Every song is good, and this one has all the hits, but I implore you, dear reader, don’t stop there. There is a song on every album that makes it worth the effort. After 34 years of living, and 28 years of listening to music, and much, much reflection, I have chosen Thin Lizzy as my favorite band of all time. I suppose i’ll have to come back and update this in 20 years. Hopefully the internet still exists. Actually, maybe it’s better if it doesn’t.”

Listen to “Common Species” from Old Man Gloom

Old Man Gloom’s new album, NO, is available now via Hydra Head at this link. Listen to the entire album over at Self-Titled Mag.

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