Quarterly Review: Ufomammut, Horehound, Lingua Ignota, Valborg, Sageness, Glacier, MNRVA, Coroza, Noosed, zhOra

Posted in Reviews on October 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

quarterly review

Oh hi, I didn’t see you there. Earlier this week — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and yes, even Wednesday — the alarm went off at 4AM as usual and I got up, got coffee going and a protein bar and sat down to write, starting basically around quarter-after with a quick email check and whatnot. In terms of basic timing, this last morning of the Fall 2019 Quarterly Review is no different. I even have the baby monitor streaming on my phone as I would most mornings, so I can keep an eye on when The Pecan gets up. What’s changed is I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Oslo, Norway, having just arrived on an overnight flight from Newark. Managed to sleep some on the plane and I’m hopeful adrenaline will pick up the rest of the slack as regards getting through the day. That and caffeine, anyhow.

Although, speaking of, my debit card doesn’t work and I’ll need to sort that out.

First thing’s first, and that’s reviews. Last batch of 10 for the week. We made it. Thanks as always for reading and being a part of this thing. Let’s wrap it up in style, and because I like working on a theme, three Irish bands in a row close out. Hey, I went to Ireland this year.

Quarterly Review #41-50:

Ufomammut, XX

UFOMAMMUT XX

Five years ago, Roman cosmic doom masters Ufomammut took a reflective look back at their career for its 15th anniversary with the documentary/live-performance DVD XV (review here). And since one might define the arc of their tenure as constantly trying to top themselves, for their 20th anniversary, they’ve issued a 12LP boxed set, titled simply XX, that compiles their nine albums to-date and tops them off with the mostly-subdued-style XX itself, which reimagines past cacophonies like “Mars” and “Plouton” in a quieter context. That part of the mega-offering issued through their own Supernatural Cat imprint comprises six songs recorded live and makes highlights out of the hypnotic strum and incantations of “Satan” as well as the rumbling drone of “Lacrimosa,” which takes on new emotional resonance for the shoegazy treatment it receives. I’ve said on multiple occasions throughout the years that Ufomammut are a band to be treasured, and I stand by that 100 percent. The XX box should be perceived by fans as an opportunity to do likewise.

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Supernatural Cat website

 

Horehound, Weight

horehound weight

Less than a year after issuing their second long-player in the form of Holocene (review here) through Blackseed and Doom Stew Records, Pittsburgh atmosludgers Horehound align with DHU Records for the two-song 8″ EP Weight, which brings “Unbind” and “The Heavy,” two new cuts that, while I’m not sure they weren’t recorded at the same time as the last album — that is, they may have been — they nonetheless showcase the emergent melodic breadth and instrumental ambience that is developing in their sound. Even as “Unbind” rolls toward its low-end tempo kick, it does so with marked patience and a willingness to stay slow until just the right moment, which is not something every band cane effectively do. “The Heavy,” meanwhile, builds itself around a Crowbar-style dirge riff before Shy Kennedy‘s verse arrives as a standalone element, all the instruments around her dropping out from behind. That moment alone, frankly, is worth the price of admission, as whether it’s through that extra inch in diameter of the platter itself or through the audio of the tracks in question, Horehound continue to distinguish themselves.

Horehound on Thee Facebooks

DHU Records BigCartel store

 

Lingua Ignota, CALIGULA

LINGUA IGNOTA CALIGULA

I’m not sure I’m qualified to write about Lingua Ignota‘s CALIGULA (on Profound Lore), but I’m not sure anyone else is either. Like a self-harmonizing mega-Jarboe turning existential horror into epic proclamations of “I don’t eat/I don’t sleep” on “DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR?” amid bass throb and terrifying melodic layering before making bedroom black metal sound like the lightweight self-indulgence it’s always been on the subsequent check-out-the-real-shit “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” Kristin Hayter‘s work is little short of experimentalist brilliance. She is minimal and yet over-the-top, open in creative terms but unwaveringly dark and rife with melody but severe to the point now and again of true aural abrasion. She weaves a context of her own into “FUCKING DEATHDEALER” as she recalls the lyrics to the aforementioned “BUTCHER OF THE WORLD,” while the outright brutality of “SPITE ALONE HOLDS ME ALOFT” is married to a piano-led meditation that, even without the noise wash from whence it comes, is enough to recast visions of what heavy is and can be in musical terms. I won’t pretend to get all the references like “kyrie eleison” (“lord have mercy”) worked into “IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL” and the violent strains surrounding, but it’s impossible not to realize the power of what you’re hearing when you listen.

Lingua Ignota on Thee Facebooks

Profound Lore Records on Bandcamp

 

Valborg, Zentrum

valborg zentrum

With an intensity born out of a history of industrial music and focus on tight rhythms making an impact in even-tighter songwriting, Valborg are neither beholden to death metal nor entirely separate from it, but their style has taken on a life of its own over the course of the last 10 years, and their latest offering, Zentrum (on Prophecy Productions), is the German trio’s most individualized take yet, whether that’s shown in the unbridled melodicism of “Anomalie,” the sludgy riff that drives the barking “Ultragrab” or the seemingly unrelenting snare pops of “Kreuzer” that, even when they finally release that tension, still make it only a temporary reprieve. Valborg‘s sense of control through the epic “Nonnenstern” should not be understated, and though the track is under four minutes long, yes, “epic” very much applies. Suitably enough, they close with “Vakuum” and throw everything at the listener at once before resolving in relatively peaceful atmospherics that could just as easily serve as an introduction to the next round of malice to come, whenever it shows up.

Valborg on Thee Facebooks

Prophecy Productions webstore

 

Sageness, Akmé

sageness akme

Spanish trio Sageness — also written SageNESS — conjure smooth Electric Moon-style soundscapes on their second album, Akmé, and yes, that is a compliment. The record brings forth six tracks of easy-rolling instrumentalist jam-based heavy psychedelia that offer much and take little in return, the richness of the guitar tone from Dawyz and Michi‘s bass given jazzy fluidity by Fran‘s drumming. “Ephemeral” touches most directly on a Colour Haze, as it would almost have to, but even there, the feeling of spaciousness that Sageness present in the recording is a factor that helps them come across as more individual. Earlier, “The Thought” is a little more directly space rock, but opener “Andromeda” seems to be charting the course with its liquefied effects and somehow-even-more-liquefied groove, and if you can’t get down with that, I’ve got nothing for you and neither does the rest of the universe.

Sageness on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records website

 

Glacier, No Light Ever

glacier no light ever

It’s not exactly true, about their being no light ever on Boston post-metallers Glacier‘s latest full-length, No Light Ever. Sure, it’s plenty dark and heavy and brooding and all that fun stuff, and the riffs get loud and the drums break stuff and all that, but it’s certainly colorful in its way as well, and more than just shades of black on black. Comprised of four tracks cumbersomely titled in keeping with the traditions of the likes of Red Sparowes and the band’s own past work, cuts like “O World! I Remain No Longer Here.” and “The Bugles Blow, Fanned by Hysteria.” stretch themselves out along a scope as massive as the tonality the band emits, and as the wash of “We Glut Our Souls on the Accursed,” — the comma is part of the title there — gives way to feedback and the onset of “And We Are Damned Amid Noble Sound.” the sense of immersion is complete and clear as the priority under which they’re working. It’s about the whole album, or at least the two sides, as a unified work, and about crafting a world through the atmosphere evoked in the material. It works. If they say there’s no light in that world, so be it. It’s whatever they want it to be.

Glacier on Thee Facebooks

Wolves and Vibrancy Records webstore

 

MNRVA, Black Sky

mnrva black sky

Not-entirely-bereft-of-vowels South Carolina heavy trio MNRVA make their debut with the three-song EP Black Sky, a beast of a short release led by the riffs of guitarist Byron Hark on a stretch of ’90s-style crunch and sludge, with bassist/vocalist Kevin Jennings and drummer Gina Ercolini adding to the weight and shove of the proceedings, respectively. “Not the One” has the hook, “No Solution” has the impact and the title-track has both, and though I’m by no means saying the issue of their sound is settled 100 percent and they won’t grow or find their way from this — again, their debut — EP, they do prove to be well in charge of where their songs head in terms of mood and the atmosphere that comes through elements like the blown-out vocals and the rumbling bass beneath the lead guitar in the second half of “Black Sky” itself. Indeed, it’s those harsher aspects that help MNRVA immediately establish their individuality, and the vibe across these 18-plus minutes is that the punishment is only getting started.

MNRVA on Thee Facebooks

MNRVA on Bandcamp

 

Coroza, Chaliceburner

coroza chaliceburner

Just because Irish four-piece Coroza — guitarist/vocalists Ciaran Coghlan and Jack O’Neill, bassist/vocalist Jonny Canning and drummer Ollie Cunningham — might write a song that’s 18 minutes long, that doesn’t mean they forgot to actually make it a song as well. Thus it is that extended cuts like “The Plutonian Drug” (18:24) and closer “Iron from the Sky” (19:30) have plenty of room to flesh out their more progressive aspects amid the other three also-kind-of-extended pieces on Chaliceburner, the group’s ambitious hour-plus/five-track debut full-length. Each song essentially becomes a front-to-back movement on its own, with shifts between singers arranged thoughtfully from one part to the next and hooks along the way to serve as landmarks for those traversing, as in the opening “Chaliceburner” or the gruff winding moments of “Mountain Jaw,” which follows the nine-minute sax-inclusive centerpiece “Scaltheen,” because of course there’s a saxophone in there somewhere. All of this is a recipe for a band biting off more than they can chew stylistically, but Coroza manage pretty well the various twists and turns of their own making, particularly considering it’s their first album.

Coroza on Thee Facebooks

Coroza on Bandcamp

 

Noosed, She of the Woods

noosed she of the woods demo

Encased front and back by witchy samples and creepy vibes, Sept. 2019’s She of the Woods is the second demo in two months to come from Cork, Ireland’s Noosed. And you know it when they get around to the closing seven-minute title-track because it’s just about the only thing other than “Intro” that isn’t raging with grind intensity, but that stuff can be fun too. I don’t know how much witch-grind-doom is out there, but Noosed‘s first, self-titled demo (released in August) had a sludgy edge that seems to have separated out to some degree here into a multifaceted personality. Can one possibly be certain of the direction the band will ultimately take? Shit no. It’s two demos with basically no time differential between them. But if they can effectively bridge the gap between “Fuck Up,” “Wretch” and “She of the Woods,” or even play directly with the contrast, they could be onto something with all this noise and fuckall.

Noosed on Thee Facebooks

Noosed on Bandcamp

 

zhOra, Ruthless Bastards

zhora ruthless bastards

The narrative — blessings and peace upon it — has it such that Irish four-piece zhOra wanted to do something less complicated than was their 2017 album, Ethos, Pathos, Logos (discussed here), so they went ahead and wrote a song that’s five minutes long and purposefully hops between subgenres, going from sludge to doom to a deathcore breakdown, with a snare-pop count-in, to blackened death metal and then back to a lumbering chug to finish out. Okay, zhOra, “Ruthless Bastards” is a an awful lot of metal and an awfully good time, but you missed the mark on “simple” by a considerable margin. If indeed the band had been plotting toward something, say, easier to play or to compose, “Ruthless Bastards” ain’t it. They’ll have to settle for being brutal as fuck instead. Something tells me they’ll survive having made that trade, as much as anything will.

zhOra on Thee Facebooks

zhOra on Bandcamp

 

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Ufomammut to Release Anniversary Box Set XX on Sept. 9

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 31st, 2019 by JJ Koczan

I was kind of curious whether or not Ufomammut would do anything other than the touring to celebrate their 20th anniversary this year, and apparently they’re kind of doing everything. XX, to be released Sept. 9 through the band’s own Supernatural Cat imprint, compiles their nine albums in one box and has a bonus of re-recorded tracks, and comes with a special book and photos, lyrics, a poster and backpatch other sundry other this-and-thats as detailed below.

You might recall the three-piece cosmic doomers issued the documentary/live-performance DVD XV (review here) when they hit the 15-year mark. I have to wonder what they might do in five years’ time when they pass a quarter-century. They’re setting a pretty high standard here. Re-record Godlike Snake? I don’t even know.

Preorders are up now for the box, and if you want one, get yours in, because these will go and be gone:

UFOMAMMUT photo by Francesca De Franceschi Manzoni

UFOMAMMUT Announces XX Discography Boxset Celebrating Their 20th Anniversary In 2019

Italy’s mind-altering trio UFOMAMMUT marks their 20th Anniversary as a band this year. Having recently returned from their latest European and North American tours, the band has a new surprise for their amazing and loyal fans. On September 9th, Supernatural Cat will release a special anniversary box set, XX.

To be released on both CD and LP, the XX box set will feature nine UFOMAMMUT albums, all individually housed in sleeves with exclusive cover artworks, created specifically for this release. The box sets will include all eight studio albums; Godlike Snake, Snailking, Lucifer Song, Idolum, Eve, Oro, Ecate, and 8. Additionally, the box will include a new release, titled XX. This new recording features six revisited tracks – “Satan,” “Plouton,” “Lacrimosa,” “Infearnatural,” “Mars,” and “Destroyer – which were re-recorded during the band’s recent European tour. These special box sets will also include a 64-page book with original covers, photos, and lyrics to all songs with an additional poster, backpatch, and sticker.

The XX box sets are available for preorder at the new UFOMAMMUT official webstore along with other exclusive new merchandise RIGHT HERE.

UFOMAMMUT has also just announced further European touring for later in the year, surrounded by one-off festival performances this summer, two gigs in Russia this September, with more tour dates to be announced over the months ahead, as the band celebrates their 20th Anniversary with their fans around the planet.

UFOMAMMUT 2019 Live Dates:
5/30/2019 Dunk! Festival – Zottegem, BE
9/11/2019 Aglomerat – Moscow, RU
9/12/2019 MOD – St. Petersburg, RU
9/26/2019 Le Fil – Saint Etienne, FR
9/27/2019 Petit Bain – Paris, FR
9/28/2019 The Garage – London, UK
9/29/2019 Magasin 4 – Brussels, BE
9/30/2019 Melkweg – Amsterdam, NL
10/02/2019 Vega – Copenhagen, DK
10/03/2019 Sticky Fingers – Göteborg, SE
10/04/2019 Høstsabbat – Oslo, NO
10/05/2019 – TBA
10/06/2019 Debaser – Stockholm, SE
10/08/2019 On The Rocks – Helsinki, FI
10/09/2019 Von Krahl – Tallinn, ES
10/10/2019 Melna Piektdiena – Riga, LV
10/11/2019 Narauti – Vilnius, LT
10/12/2019 Hydrozagadka – Warsaw, PL
10/13/2019 Zet Pe Te – Krakow, PL
10/15/2019 Rockhouse – Salzburg, AT
10/16/2019 Mochvara – Zagreb, CR

www.ufomammut.com
https://ufomammut.8merch.com/
www.facebook.com/ufomammutband
www.instagram.com/ufomammut
http://www.supernaturalcat.com

20 Year of Ufomammut trailer

Ufomammut, 8

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Ufomammut Set to Mark 20th Anniversary with Spring Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

ufomammut

You might recall that when they hit their 15th anniversary in 2014, Ufomammut released the retrospective documentary, XV (review here), to mark the occasion. It seems their 20th year will be noted by seeing them do what they do best: tour and destroy. The Italian cosmic doom magnates have continued their forward-thinking, heavy-like-planets approach and managed to do nothing but grow each time out, and if you’ve never seen them live, well, that sounds like a personal problem it’s probably time to rectify. They’ll be out in Europe this Spring, doing a route mostly through Germany with a couple stops in the Netherlands and one in Switzerland — plus a couple dates TBA — but look for more to come because there’s an awful lot of year left and as they’ve shown over the last two decades, Ufomammut are hardly shy when it comes to getting out. To wit, they’ve already been announced as headliners for Oslo’s Høstsabbat festival in October. So yeah, more to come.

Shows are presented by Sound of Liberation:

ufomammut 20 years banner

20 YEARS UFOMAMMUT | FIRST TOUR DATES

In this year 2019, Ufomammut is celebrating 20 years as a band.

The band was formed in February of 1999 by Poia, Urlo and Vita in a small room in the middle of nowhere in Italy.

The idea was to survive the boredom of living in a little town while also having the intention of creating music to spread all around the globe.

After eight albums, plenty of tours, festivals and kilometers on the road, the band is ready to celebrate this important anniversary event with their marvelous and loyal fans with a special European tour this spring.

27.03 – Feierwerk – Munich (D)
28.03 – UT Connewitz – Leipzig (D)
29.03 – Mau Club – Rostock (D)
30.03 – MarX – Hamburg (D)
31.03 – Iduna – Drachten (NL)
2.04 – Junkyard – Dortmund (D)
3.04 – Doornroosje – Nijmegen (NL)
4.04 – TBA
5.04 – Gaswerk – Winterthur (CH)
6.04 – TBA

Music: “Plouton” by Ufomammut
Video by Lù www.malleusdelic.com

Stay tuned & keep your eyes peeled:
Many more dates to come!

Do not miss this.

www.ufomammut.com
www.facebook.com/ufomammutband
twitter.com/ufomammutmafia
www.instagram.com/ufomammut
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings
https://neurotrecordings.bandcamp.com
https://twitter.com/OfficialNeurot
http://www.supernaturalcat.com

20 Year of Ufomammut trailer

Ufomammut, 8

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Friday Full-Length: Ufomammut, Eve

Posted in Bootleg Theater on January 9th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Ufomammut, Eve (2010)

I wanted to close out this week with something spacious and brain-meltingly heavy, and once I knew that, there was really nowhere else to turn other than to Ufomammut. When their sixth full-length, the 44-minute single piece divided into five parts Eve (review here), was released in 2010 on Supernatural Cat — prior to their signing to Neurot — the band had this to say about its making:

As per the band, the concept of Eve was initially inspired by Pink Floyd‘s Meddle album. “The idea was to work on a long song and some satellites” the band state. “Then we started in playing this song that was growing and developing bigger and bigger. And it was like we were reaching something new; a different knowledge. So I got the feeling we had to move it around something that was about freedom; the idea of rebellion, of fighting to reach something important, and peculiar.”

“The concept of Eve was cool because cause you can read it on both sides, like the Ouroboros; a serpent circle eating itself. When all the other numeric things we came out together it all sounded like it was fate, it had to be done.”

…And they said I was a fool for keeping a PR wire archive for half a decade. Fair enough on the concept, but the absolutely perception-shattering results aren’t to be understated. Though the Italian cosmic doom trio followed Eve with their two-part Neurot debut, Oro (reviews here and here) in 2012, I think Eve might still remain their definitive statement to date. The range they show, the tension in their builds, the sheer density of the mix and weight of their tones — it’s mad genius at work and unlike anything else in the heavy underground or otherwise. A landmark in the truest sense of the word. Ufomammut are a band I think would be much more influential if people could actually figure out how they construct the kind of noise-wash that permeates Eve.

As it stands, this record turns five years old this spring, and as Ufomammut move past their 15th anniversary and have recently finished work on a follow-up to Oro, it will be interesting to hear whether they’ve continued to expand their sound or, having paused to look back at their earlier material with the XV DVD (review here) and Magickal Mastery Tour live dates, if they might take influence from that and strip down some of the droning impulse ahead of their promised first North American tour. Did I say “interesting to hear?” Sorry. What I meant was “I can’t fucking wait to find out.” Yeah. That was it.

Whatever their wizardry conjures, Eve is a standout and was an early entry onto the list of the 2010s’ best albums of the decade. If you haven’t listened to it in a while, I hope you enjoy getting lost in its reaches all over again.

The Patient Mrs. and I watched the last Hobbit movie last night. Woof it sucked. There was, what, maybe 20 minutes of actual movie in the two-plus hours? And on the rare occasion dialogue made its way in among all the popping off of goblin heads in extended fight scenes, aerial shots of New Zealand (not complaining about that, New Zealand is fucking beautiful) and elf sashaying, lines like “I got this” induced more cringes than adrenaline. All I kept thinking was about the Deep Space 9 I wasn’t watching. And I frickin’ worshiped at the altar of Lord of the Rings. Just wasn’t enough there to make a third movie out of and you could tell it was drawn out to fill time. Hey bro, I’ll take a quality 100-minute movie over nearly three hours of hawt-is-good-ugly-is-bad fight scenes and needless Legolas time. Like anyone needed more Legolas.

Could just be I’m sour because I’m injured. The Patient Mrs. — because I’m afraid to leave the house by myself, apparently — and I spent the better part of last week in New Jersey. Actually it was family stuff, but the paranoia better suits my narrative, so fuck it. We come back this past Sunday night, it’s pouring and as we’re unloading the car after about five hours on the road, I fall down the outside stairs and do some excruciating ankle damage. We were in the ER until about 2AM Sunday night. Nothing broken. Got some crutches, some pain meds that we haven’t even picked up at the pharmacy and was sent on my merry way. Went to another doctor on Wednesday because it was still swollen and I was worried about ligament damage and it turned out all he wanted to talk about was how big my ass is. Super. Thanks. Yeah, I almost forgot about it, but any chance you could take a look at my fucking ankle? No? Okay, great.

So what does it all mean? For one thing, it means i’m not going to see High on Fire in Maine this weekend. Today’s really the first day I can put any weight on my left foot at all, and the thought of standing for four hours even for such a worthy cause seems like a good way to not continue healing. It also means that last night I was up until about 2:30AM setting things up to be posted today so that, let’s say around 3:30PM, I’d be able to knock off early and call it a week. What happens next? What shitty misadventure awaits? I don’t know and I don’t really care. All I know is I’ve had enough week and it’s time to hit reset.

Monday, look out for a Throat track stream, and, later in the week, one from Elder. I’m also planning to put up my 2015 most anticipated albums list, but I might push it back another week. We’ll see how tomorrow goes and if I can get a start, because it’s definitely a multi-day process.

Hope you dig the Ufomammut and have a tremendous goblin-free (unless it’s Orange Goblin, in which case, right on) weekend. Be safe, watch that bottom step, and we’ll see you back here Monday for more kvetching and riffs.

Please check out the forum and radio stream.

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Ufomammut, XV: 15 Years in the Cosmos

Posted in Reviews on November 13th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

ufomammut xv case

The concert DVD is about as dead as dead gets. They still make them, and they’ll continue to for some time, but with streaming on demand, YouTube, festivals live-streaming their events and so on, bands might as well put out VHS tapes and at least get some retro novelty points out of the deal. All the same, every now and again there’s a worthy occasion — in the case of Italian cosmic doomers Ufomammut, it was their 15th anniversary — and it seems prudent that some band-sanctioned document of it exist into perpetuity. Thus arrives XV: 15 Years of Ufomammut on the band’s own Supernatural Cat imprint with minimalist artwork courtesy of their visual-arts alter-ego, Malleus; a rare moment of backward reflection from an otherwise relentlessly forward-thinking trio, who have become — and I say this with as much impartiality as I can muster — one of the worldwide heavy underground’s most pivotal acts. Their two-part 2012 full-length, Oro (reviews here and here) on Neurot was really just the latest step in a groundbreaking psychedelic progression that’s been underway since they started in 1999, their releases — 2000’s Godlike Snake, 2004’s Snailking, 2005’s Lucifer Songs, 2007’s Supernaturals Record One collaboration with Lento, 2008’s Idolum, 2010’s Eve (review here) and the aforementioned Oro — serving as landmarks of each stage of their development, their continued will for experimentation and outdoing themselves unwavering across each outing. So after a decade and a half, Ufomammut wanted to take a step back and see how far they’ve come before moving ahead again with their next record? Well, that seems fair.

Ufomammut‘s late-2013/early-2014 “Magickal Mastery Tour” was something special because where the trio of guitarist/keyboardist Poia, bassist/vocalist/keyboardist Urlo and drummer Vita generally keep their focus more recent when it comes to live shows, this time they dipped all the way back to Godlike Snake and the preceding 1999 Satan demo for “Superjunkhead” and covered a little taste of everything between that and “Sulphurdew” from Oro: Opus Alter. A single set spanning a seven-album run isn’t easy to put together, particularly when Ufomammut have grown a tendency to write long-form material, but they did it and for fans, it was something apart from their own version of the “ordinary.” If you’re an ardent disbeliever in the form of concert videos, XV isn’t likely to change your mind, but it’s something the band have clearly put thought and effort into, where so many are slapped together from three-camera shoots and just sort of plopped out there like an unbaited fishhook to see which fans will bite. The feel over the course of Ufomammut‘s 80-minute set is more like a music video. They run the performance footage, captured live at SOMS “Il Progresso” in Sarezzano, Italy, by longtime engineer Lorenzo Stecconi, through a range of psychedelic effects and intersperse strange still images, all the while bouncing between more cameras than I can count, GoPros, hand-helds, and stationary. It’s a feature-length, live music video more than a concert recording. If there was an audience that night in Sarezzano, they’re never showed. Possible the band rented out the space so they, as Malleus, and Barbra Baader Meinhof could have freer access with cameras, but I don’t know that.

ufomammut

They bounce gloriously around their catalog and unsurprisingly are planetary in their heaviness throughout, but again, if you’re absolutely unable to get on board with a concert DVD, their switches between color, black and white, blurs and visual swirls are probably going to leave you cold. Wisely, and I’ll admit more intriguing to me as well, is the documentary portion of XV. in which the band (with subtitles) tell their own story and check in with those who knew or helped them at some stage or another in their career. Their story isn’t one filled with drama — Poia and Urlo played together in a band called Judy Corda that broke up, they started Ufomammut, found a killer drummer in Vita, were well received and set about growing their sound — but there is a lot of humor and charm throughout. Of particular note is when The Flyeater, who apparently handled Korg for them for two shows, makes an appearance in the same luchador mask he wore on stage, and we get to see Stecconi, who has become a big part of Ufomammut‘s sound since making his debut behind the board for them with Idolum, which the band describes as their darkest album. If this is to be their moment of reflection, they make the most of it, and it’s fascinating to hear them putting their work in context with itself, moving from one record to the next while conscious of the creativity at play. They wind up discussing Oro and then move into some of the theory behind where they are as a band, playing live — there’s some Roadburn footage in there — and developing the visual side of their approach. At the very end, we even get to hear from Lu, who contributes to Malleus but not Ufomammut proper. She speaks over psychedelic visuals and backed by airy guitars, and they finish out by thanking everyone who’s helped them along the way and showing fan footage during the credits, people from around the world extolling the virtues of the band.

Honestly, I could probably do the same, if you wanted or if I haven’t already in this review. It’s hard not to think XV as closing a chapter in Ufomammut‘s career, but the truth of the matter is each record they do does the same thing: They make an album and then move on. With a new full-length due out next year as a follow-up to this and Oro, that evolution seems to be continuing unabated, and hearing the band talk about their processes and what goes into making them who they are, I look forward even more to finding out what the next stage might hold. And as for the concert DVD being dead? Well, sometimes these dead formats have a tendency to come back to life, and just in case, having a copy of XV on hand might not be the worst idea.

Ufomammut, XV trailer

Ufomammut on Thee Facebooks

Supernatural Cat

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Ufomammut Announce XV Anniversary DVD Details

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Cosmic doom conjurers Ufomammut celebrated their 15th anniversary last fall by embarking on what they called the “Magickal Mastery Tour,” picking out material from across their catalog and giving a career-spanning set to mark the passing of time. Next month, they’ll release a new DVD, XV: 15 Years of Ufomammut, that captures that live show and includes a documentary about the trio as well. Preorders for that are up now via the band’s own Supernatural Cat in Europe and Earsplit Compound in the US (links below), but I also like the part where the PR wire informs that Ufomammut will hit the studio this month for a new album to be released next spring on Neurot.

Hugely interested to hear what Ufomammut might come up with for a new record after the two-part Oro in 2012 seemed to expand beyond any boundaries they’d previously known. Do they somehow continue to get bigger-sounding and reach farther, or somehow contract, and perhaps inspired by playing earlier material, move toward a more stripped down approach. It’s foolish to speculate one way or another, but Oro is one hell of an act to follow either way.

Info and whatnot:

UFOMAMMUT Announces Details Of Fifteen Year Anniversary DVD

Studio Time Booked For September; North American Tour Plans On The Horizon

UFOMAMMUT, Italian sorcerers of supernatural and obliterating doom, have been very busy behind the scenes following the release of their widely acclaimed ORO collection on Neurot Recordings and the Magickal Mastery Tour of 2013 and 2014, which saw them performing music from across their canon. A band constantly pushing and looking forward, while simultaneously keeping a firm eye on their history, as they continue to celebrate their fifteen years in existence, they still have much in store for their fanbase.

Since 2013, UFOMAMMUT has been working on a video project which will be released on DVD via the band’s Supernatural Cat Records this October, after all, the visual element of the band is of equal importance to their music. The DVD features over three hours of live footage — including Magickal Mastery Live, a 12 song live act — interviews, outtakes, and extras all documenting these first fifteen years of the band. Titled XV, this audiovisual experience will also be available as a special wooden 8GB USB drive.

On the subject of reaching this milestone the band commented…”ORO was a particularly ambitious album for us, and the Magickal Mastery Tour was a great chance to revisit all of our favorite songs in front of really great crowds. When we took some time to reflect on what we had accomplished we knew that the best ways to celebrate our first fifteen years, was a DVD release, something for our fans to contribute towards and to treasure. We’re excited about what the next fifteen years has in store…”

Preorders for the XV DVD have been posted. International orders can be placed via Supernatural Cat HERE and US fans can order exclusively via Earsplit Distro HERE.

In addition to this DVD release, UFOMAMMUT has confirmed that they will be heading into the studio to record their seventh studio collection this September. The new album should see the light of day in Spring 2015 via Neurot Recordings. They’ve also revealed plans to return to the USA to tour the entire country for the first time, as well as a promise of more European performances. Stay tuned for more details on all developments in the coming weeks.

The Magickal Mastery Live Running Order:
Superjunkhead
Hellcore
Oroborus
Stigma
Zerosette
Destroyer
Sublime
Eve (Pt. III & IV)
Sulphurdew
Odio
Stardog
God

http://www.ufomammut.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/UFOMAMMUT/83336386071
http://www.supernaturalcat.com
http://www.malleusdelic.com
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
https://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Ufomammut, XV Preview

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Ufomammut Announce the Magickal Mastery Tour

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 13th, 2013 by JJ Koczan

Just because you’ve released a series of outstanding cosmic doom albums doesn’t mean you can’t take some time to have a little fun. That would at least seem to be the mentality Italian trio Ufomammut are marking their arrival at 15 years as a band. The psychedelic megacrushers have announced that their next European run will be dubbed the Magickal Mastery Tour and will find them spanning their catalog from 2000’s Godlike Snake all the way up to last year’s brilliant two-parter, Oro (review here and here).

The PR wire offers the following Beatles-referential glimpse:

UFOMAMMUT UNVEIL, THE MAGICKAL MASTERY TOUR

Like a snake biting its own tail, time is circular, and with their upcoming tour, Ufomammut further corroborate ouroboric tendencies…

This autumn, Ufomammut will excavate items from their pliocenic past, keeping their third eye pointed at the future – the ‘Magickal Mastery Tour’ is a journey through fifteen years of Ufomammut music, performing under a new light songs from Godlike Snake to ORO, as thanksgiving to people for their support and devotion.

The band commented…”We are very excited to come out and play material from across our album catalogue, whereas recent focus has been on ORO, an album which we are most proud of, we are looking forward to playing older material also, it’s been a while! This marks the last tour we shall do for a period, whilst we concentrate on writing a new album”

MAGICKAL MASTERY TOUR DATES:
25 sept – Arena – Vienna (A)
26 sept – Stattwerkstatt – Linz (A)
27 sept – Kulturpalast – Wiesbaden (D)
28 sept – Het Depot – Leuven (B)
29 sept – Vera – Groningen (NL)
01 oct – The Fleece – Bristol (UK)
02 oct – Brudenell social club – Leeds (UK)
03 oct – The Underworld – London (UK)
04 oct – 4AD – Diksmuide (BE)
05 oct – Römer – Bremen (D)
06 oct – KB18 – Copenhagen (DK)
07 oct – Blitz – Oslo (NOR)
09 oct – Luttako – Jväskyla (FIN)*
10 oct – Kuudes Linja – Helsinki (FIN)*
11 oct – Yo Talo – Tampere (FIN)*
12 oct – Nuclear Nightclub – Oulu (FIN)*
17 oct – Progresja – Warsaw (PL)
18 oct – Bii Nu – Berlin (D)
19 oct – Keep it Low Festival – Munich (D)
* Thanks to BLOW UP THAT GRAMOPHONE

With more dates to be announced, and support acts also, stay tuned because this is only the tip of the iceberg!

www.ufomammut.com
www.supernaturalcat.com

Ufomammut, Magickal Mastery Tour trailer

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Ufomammut, Oro: Opus Primum: Casting the Weight of Gold

Posted in Reviews on April 3rd, 2012 by JJ Koczan

One of the most fascinating and satisfying aspects of Italy’s Ufomammut throughout the course of their career has been the seemingly willful drive to top themselves with each new release. Whether it was the jump from 2000’s Godlike Snake debut to 2004’s landmark Snailking or the experimentation in style and tone that would commence with 2005’s Lucifer Songs before solidifying on 2008’s Idolum (a collaboration with Lento was released in 2007 as well, furthering the experimental and ambient bent), the trio of Urlo (vocals, bass, synth), Poia (guitar, synth) and Vita (drums) have never yet failed to go bigger and grander sound-wise while also proportionately expanding their creative breadth. With 2010’s Eve (review here), Ufomammut embarked on the challenge of creating an album out of a singular longform work. It was a natural step for the band after Idolum, and they weren’t the first to confront that task – see Sleep’s Dopesmoker for a formative example. But where Sleep’s magnum opus would also serve as their swansong, Ufomammut did not fall apart after Eve, instead finding the climate of the heavy underground welcoming them to their greatest success yet. Eve made numerous year-end lists (including mine) and thrust Ufomammut to what could only be considered their rightful place among doom’s current elite and most groundbreaking acts. Listening, the album made you want to start a band that sounded just like it.

But in following it up, Ufomammut are truly in uncharted territory, which makes the arrival of Oro so much more exciting. Aligned now to Neurot Recordings for the first time (their own Supernatural Cat imprint has a hand in it too, from what I understand, and of course their Malleus alter-ego handled the artwork), Urlo, Poia and Vita have reasoned out a plan that – in keeping with their track record to date – is bigger than Eve, more of an ambient wash, more cosmically crushing and psychedelic in its weight, but most of all, more patient. Patient enough, in fact, that they’ve split the album in half. Oro arrives over the course of 2012 in two parts, subtitled Opus Primum and Opus Alter. It’s a risky move, bifurcating and delivering the singular idea over the course of two distinct pieces. The most recent example I can think of is Earth’s Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light on Southern Lord, and I would argue that over time, the thrill of the second piece was lessened by the fact that the musical ideas had already been presented on the first – as though the band had preempted itself. Ufomammut cover a huge expanse of stylistic ground on Oro: Opus Primum, but the question remains to be answered how Opus Alter will push these ideas even further. In a way, it’s unfair to critique the work they’re doing here, because it’s like trying to judge a painting before the sketch is colored in. You have the context and the basic form, but the complete narrative remains to be told. Certainly one’s tendency to default to hyperbole when it comes to Ufomammut’s work – “They sound like planets breaking!!!!” etc. (apologies if anyone has actually said that; it just came to me because it’s how I actually think they sound) – feels premature as regards the five tracks and 51 minutes the band presents here. They might sound like planets breaking on the über-lurching centerpiece “Infearnatural,” but the public hardly yet knows if that will continue on Opus Alter’s material and thus serve as a viable statement for Oro as a whole.

While it’s a tough spot for reviewing Oro or trying to get a sense of what Ufomammut might do on the second part of this album that’s not just pure conjecture, it’s not as though Opus Primum is lacking substance at all. Quite the opposite. It may sound like half an album and leave one with a feeling that there’s conclusion yet to come, that imbalance is justified by the method of release Ufomammut have undertaken. The opening track here, “Empireum,” is essentially a 14-minute build up; an introduction to the yet-partially-obscured whole of Oro. It begins with a low end boom, subtle like a far off shutting down before creepy synth lines and backing noise – along with Vita’s slowly faded in drums – introduce the figure that will typify the song. As well as setting the course atmospherically for the rest of Opus Primum, “Empireum” also shows how patient Ufomammut have become within their songwriting. Perhaps it’s the extra space a two-album release provides them, but although the band has not wanted for ambience across their last several releases – Eve, Idolum and the Lento collaboration – “Empireum” pushes almost immediately further into the atmospheric. They’ve never been about catchy pop hooks or anything like that, and they’ve certainly made excellent use of peaks and valleys over the last decade, but in searching through their catalog, instances of this kind of patience are few and far between, even on some of their most extended material, be it the whole of Eve or cuts like “Demontain” from Snailking, which split its 28 minutes with a long break, or “Void” from Idolum, which followed a course less linear in its construction. “Empireum” unfolds smoothly, gradually, and seems for the first eight minutes-plus like it’s swallowing you in one piece, mostly because it is.

It opens up, finally, to its payoff, and rides and continues to build on its churn for about half of the remaining five minutes, before Vita’s drumming provides percussive underscore for sustained, airy chords from Poia and Urlo, and the synths come back slower to remind of the song’s beginning. That figure shows up later on “Magickon” as well, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was the last thing of substance (outro noise notwithstanding) one hears at the close of Opus Alter when that hits, though Ufomammut have never held much allegiance to doing what’s expected of them. The ambience that closes “Empireum” crashes into the droning, thickened riff that commences “Aureum,” which at 12:28 joins with the opener in accounting for more than half of Opus Primum’s runtime. Perhaps more characteristically Ufomammut in its giant space-tinged feel and gargantuan tone – Poia and Urlo joined together with periodic thuds from Vita backing them – it’s still almost two and a half minutes before the song is under way with its more doomed groove. Ultimately, it’s riffs like this that have earned Ufomammut their reputation as one of the heaviest bands in the world, and listening to “Aureum” run its course, I can hardly disagree with that assessment. When Urlo’s vocals start, seeming to drift in echoes in and out from another dimension, indeed the world itself seems small compared to the physicality of this material. They are cosmic doom, earning and helping to define what that means every step of the way. “Aureum” switches at about five and a half minutes to a more complex, winding riff, but loses none of its momentum, cutting to just the guitars and synth at six minutes to introduce the progression that will eventually slam back into what, for lack of better designation, seems to be the verse.

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