Ufomammut // ORO: Opus Alter
Rating: 3.0 – The Riff made manifest, but not for the fainthearted
Label: Neurot Recordings
Websites: ufomammut.com | facebook.com
Release Dates: EU: 2012.09.17 | US: 09.18.2012
Doom metal is a lovely creature. There is so much variation and nuance in the genre and two albums that fit in the same box are very seldom cut from the same cloth. Stoner doom I find particularly interesting because the genre itself is as diverse as the smorgasbord [that’s smörgåsbord, buddy. – AMG] of opiates available to the layman (never mind the primo stuff you need to “know someone” to get). Some stoner doom is so full of weed that you could probably be busted for possession if you had it in your pocket. Some feels like a bad acid trip. Ufomammut feels like an LSD-induced, out of body experience in the far reaches of space.
I don’t think I’ll ever really know how to approach companion albums and these Italians’ latest release, ORO: Opus Alter, is exactly that. Coming hot on the heels of ORO: Opus Primum and is, thankfully a very different beast to the atmospheric psychedelia of its older sibling. When approaching this review I asked myself if I should listen to them back-to-back, as separate pieces or as one cohesive whole and once it all settled in I realized that the albums are two sides of the same coin. The heads or tails. The light and dark. On Opus Alter, its sibling’s astral atmospherics are eschewed in favor of The Riff. Anybody who has been following Ufomammut for a while will know that they are faithful to The Riff and that The Riff blesses them (and subsequently us) with its divine presence. Black Sabbath summoned forth The Riff all those years ago and it is very clear that Ufomammut have been studying their grimoire.
To call Ufomammut‘s music repetitive would be doing them a great disservice. Yet, often a single riff with permeate an entire six to eight minute track; not because the band can’t write anything else, but so that it can be absorbed, reflected on and digested. The Riff serves as a focal point to all of the other effects, instrumentation and technique behind it – not as filler. This is an album to get lost in and to just take in the images conjured by the swirling psychadelia coming from the speakers. Metal often uses riffs in an ad hoc way, with a riff serving a purpose and being discarded for another one as quickly as it was played. Ufomammut instead choose to make the riff the be-all and end-all of the song. The alpha and the omega, laced in a heavy mix of drugged out atomospherics.
Cosidering that Opus Primum was a far less aggressive album, I do feel a little cheated that so much of the real estate on the record is devoted to more spacey bits, but I can see how they serve to introduce the heavier bits. It is also an album that needs to be taken in all at once. I can’t really pick individual tracks as stand outs because each one seems to flow effortlessly into the other. It also lacks immediately memorable riffs, which in comparison to their album Idolum, its tragic since that was just a library of great, instantly hummable riffage. The mix is clear and consistent with Ufomammut‘s previous output, vocals sitting way back in the mix but hardly being necessary to understand the message that is being converyed.
If you’re a fan and are looking to lose yourself for roughly three quarters of an hour and want something that has an almost meditative quality about it, Opus Primum is for you. If you’re new to the whole stoner doom thing then I would suggest starting off with Electric Wizard for a (ironically) far less out-there experience. Really heavy music is often really heady music, and Whatever Ufomammut are on, I think I want some of that. Maybe I’ll finally learn how to pronounce their name [Oo-foe MOM-oot. You’re welcome. – AMG].