Written by: AP on 17/10/2017 00:22:41

Stoner-doom is a precariously difficult genre to perfect, with many an artist falling into the common trap of relying too much on repetition, with riffs that do not stand up to overuse. Ufomammut, born out of the northern Italian region of Piemonte in 1999, have largely managed to avoid this pitfall over the course of their career though, their penchant for creating metal that is stupendously heavy and altogether hypnotising, culminating in their widely lauded eighth studio album, “Ecate”, in 2015. In the last 18 years, the trio has also earned a reputation for high efficiency when it comes to pumping out records, with the 2½ years elapsed since the release of “Ecate” representing one of the longest periods between albums that Ufomammut have asked their fans to endure. No doubt the band needed to think long and hard on ways to meet the expectations that now hung overhead for this new outing, “8” — and it offers plenty of evidence the decision to do so was wise.

The album was recorded live-in-studio in order to preserve the organicity and spaced-out nature of Ufomammut’s concerts, and while this is of course common practice amongst bands of the stoner variant, it is very unusual to then also encounter a mix in which the various instruments have been separated and layered so sharply. Even at their noisiest, the songs that comprise “8” never sound muddled, nor are they forced to relinquish any of the detail and texture so integral to why this band prevails where others falter in search of that mythical wall of sound. One thing is to harness its steamrolling characteristics to produce shock and awe (in the vein of Bethmoora and Conan); but it takes real finesse to splice in the dynamics and atmosphere to make it more liquid than brick, and thereby immersive instead of just imposing. Ufomammut masters this technique of shifting the volume, tempo and saturation of a song at exactly the right time and as a result, the iterative format that “8” also follows, seldom becomes exhausting.

Ultimately, what Ufomammut does better than most other artists practicing in their genre though, is something so simple as focus. “8” is the band’s first album in more than a decade on which none of the tracks surpass the 10-minute mark, with the likes of “Warsheep” and “Fatum” reflecting a newfound desire to dive headfirst into the thick of things and get the business done as efficiently as possible. But curb your skepticism — the streamlined approach does not mean that the psychedelic qualities have been sacrificed. The record still unfolds as a nigh continuous flow of keyboard and effect-laden sonic magma, with each song feeding its dense, cosmic sludge into the next to create an experience in which ends and beginnings are hard to discern; and the ritual style of Vita’s drumming pounding the listener deeper and deeper into a trancelike state in which the dark, acidic melodies of guitarist/keyboardist Poia are easily synthesised into esoteric colours and in which the megaphonic cries of bassist/vocalist Urlo seem to be delivered from lightyears away.

But although Ufomammut makes absolutely no concessions with regard to their reputation as one of the most pulverising forces in the genre, one of the best aspects to “8” is that it genuinely moves the band forward. Rather than seeking to expand their sound in keeping with the expansion of the universe (which has been their modus operandi until now), the trio seems to have taken an interest in creating space for more nuances within their sound now, as evidenced by the likes of “Zodiac” and “Psyrcle”. These are prime examples of the atomising, psychedelic doom that Ufomammut has been spewing out for nearly two decades, but at the same time, the quieter and more subdued passages within signal a beginning influx of Isis and Neurosis-style post-metal into the band’s palette as well. Ufomammut are thus positioning themselves to contradict many of their contemporaries — by evolving instead of trusting what is familiar.


Download: Babel, Zodiac, Fatum, Psyrcle
For the fans of: Dark Buddha Rising, Suma, Toner Low, YOB
Listen: Facebook

Release date 22.09.2017
Neurot Recordings

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