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Album Review: TBA

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Album Review: Ufomammut - Oro: Opus Primum

Doom is a genre which, to the untrained ear, can seem so simple and yet remains so complex that it has prompted Wino, one of doom’s most prolific artists, to claim it took him “15 years just to stay in tune”. One of the more expansive exponents of the genre, Ufomammut, have been eking out their laconic anthems of oppressive dread and invigorating power since 2000. This time around the Italian demons of doom and their unidentified flying mammoth (“mammut” being the Italian for “mammoth”) are back with a bold double-album release, the second part of which, Oro: Opus Alter, is due for release later in the year.

All of the band’s albums have a theme and Oro is no different. With a double meaning, encapsulated in its title, Oro combines the Italian palindromic word for “gold” and the Latin translation of “I pray” or “I speak”. The album itself delves into the concept of knowledge, power, fear and the human mind’s ability to distil those emotions into the kind of expensive bling you might find dangling from Mr. T’s bulging neck.

From the very first sounds of their aircraft powering down for ‘Empireum’, and the initiation of a steady speaker-to-speaker series of thrums and warbles, we are sucked from our burnt-out husks of lives and cast adrift into our own warped psyches by the music. The track builds from this point through emerging tom-thuds and snare-rolls, walking us down the spine of a twinkling riff, until we reach a battering crescendo of distortion, white noise and eventual overload.

Blacker, more menacing and far less captivating than the above are the tracks ‘Aureum’ and ‘Infearnatural’. The former drags us backwards through mud before hammering fuzzball chugs and dying vocals at us for 12 minutes or until we scream for mercy. It’s the more dastardly twin of those corpse-painted souls Primordial performing to the badgering rhythms of St. Vitus. With so many false endings it doesn’t seem to want to die, no matter how many times we hit it. The latter treads the same path with an even more sinister, all but obliterated, loop of spoken words.

‘Magickon’ returns to reprise ‘Empireum”s central riff, driving it through a couple of key changes, buzzing us back into oblivion. Hidden deep in the background are a series of vocalisations, a second track which only seems to become apparent when it begins to whine as it slowly sets about eating its own form. With ‘Mindomine’ venturing further into a wasteland of psychedelics, as monastic chanting leads us back towards Ufomammut’s penchant for cosmic drone, it’s something of a relief to spy the glowing exit sign.

Repeated plays allow a deeper connection to the changes of mood, the whole lysergic journey revealing itself as a maniacal descent into hell and back. Certainly, the message regarding the strengths and fundamental weaknesses of the human soul are potently clear. Despite my many reservations against repeating such a trip, it’s a message that I, somewhat worryingly, look forward to revealing further when they bring us the second half of the story.

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