I’m not gonna bullshit you. I’ve only become recently familiar with Italy’s cosmic-Doom badasses UFOMAMMUT. I gave their renowned 2010 LP “Eve” a couple spins while I was trimming my toenails and while I can remember enjoying what I heard, it ultimately became lost amid an endlessly amassing pile of records. Well, with the release of their latest full-length, “Oro: Opus Primum,” it's safe to say that I'm going to go back and give "Eve" another whirl. UFOMAMMUT's latest is space-charged madness – huge asteroid riffing and supernova explosions centered around one sardonic black hole of unrepentant Doom.
The album opens languidly in the form of “Empireum,” a slow-cruising track that employs a foreboding use of keyboards and spiraling drum patterns before the guitar and bass ante up the pace. The tempo is effectively drawn out, allowing the music to vacuum in the listener until the surge powers up around the eight-minute mark and the mothership hovers into view. The vocals, as can be said for the album entire, act accordingly with the atmosphere, swirling in the background as extra noise, ably playing the part of shooting comets or solar flares. While the repetitive nature of the riffing keeps things trancelike and stirring, Vita’s drumming is the real oxygen source here, constantly in check and keeping the planets aligned.
Whatever coyness “Empireum” displayed, it’s all but lost on the earth-mashing “Aureum.” Mammoth guitar chords open the song – resembling something akin to alien conversation – and then the bass grooves in and all hope is lost. Thundering Doom clouds float in and force your human face to contort under its astro-weight before switching gears at the 4:20 mark (!) and speeding things up with accompanying lost-in-the-ether vocals. It’s not long after this that the groove starts to really hit heavy, pumping along before hammering into another psychedelic gravity jam. From this point on, it’s all astounding heaviness, the sound of overlords and their continent-sized crafts roaming into oblivion.
And oblivion is precisely where you end up when the obliterating opening crush of “Infearnatural” bombs itself into existence. Holy omnipotent sledgehammer this is massive and, again, the soft and nearly indistinct layering of vocals add further otherworldly presence to its already wholly affecting ambience. While some may think this just a listless extension of what the previous track just squashed to pulp, there’s no denying the sci-fi evolution of the riff that’s going on here. There’s an intellect behind all of these songs – a thinking, pulsing song structure that swallows up the air around you, intent on leaving a great indecipherable void.
Now, while I still find enjoyment listening to “Magickon,” a further melodic extension of what “Empireum” began, I can understand where others might purport this as nothing more than a rehashing of what the initial three songs have already copiously delivered. There’s the psychedelia, the pounding riffs, the celestial currents – all the good stuff is there, as well it should be, because after all, the album plays within and beyond itself as any righteously pretentious concept album should. There’s linearity but there’s also progression, and it’s all meant to fluidly link with the next segment. Now even though this is generally meant to occur sans distraction, the seemingly late position of “Magickon” within the body of the album is slightly noticeable and might very well be the closest thing to an infraction on “Oro: Opus Primum.”
However, to claim “Magickon” as a weak song would be utter folly, and as it sifts like vapor into the album closer, it inevitably plays the part of a pedestal, resolutely bracing the voluminous swell that is “Mindomine.” With its buzzing synth drone and methodical drumming and vocals that chant from some blurry interdimensional fissure, UFOMAMMUT have suddenly become the missing link between the cathartic glow of YOB and the transcendental flood of TOOL.
Fraught with supernatural free-floating magic, reverberating and wisping and chemically charged, “Oro: Opus Primum” plays like ancient untapped knowledge – how if you listen closely enough, some terrible secret, something not intended for man, may actually be hiding amid the static.
This is just a megaton blast of shuddering cosmo-Doom and a must listen.
ME(n)TAL NOTE: “Oro: Opus Primum” is the just the first half. “Oro: Opus Alter” will conclude the concept project in its entirety. It’s scheduled to be released in September.
(Online April 15, 2012)