Friday Full-Length: Ufomammut, Snailking

Ufomammut, Snailking (2004)

[Please note: While I’m using a YouTube embed above because that’s the habit for these posts, Snailking is available direct from Ufomammut on Bandcamp here.]

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I pulled out Ufomammut‘s Snailking and gave it a go. Nothing — quite literally, nothing — against the Italian trio’s groundbreaking 2004 sophomore LP, but it’s not exactly like they never released anything afterwards. This year’s Ecate (review here), for example, would be bound to keep any Ufomammut fan occupied for a span, and I still feel like there’s more digging to be done before I’d be willing to say I thought the prior single-album-broken-into-two-releases Oro (review here and review here) had given up all its secrets. Snailking (previously discussed here) was the record that got me into Ufomammut. An underheralded US release came via shortlived imprint The Music Cartel, and while the band has followed that up with reissues in 2009 and 2011 through their own Supernatural Cat label, it’s still easy to label Snailking as something of a lost/would-be classic both for what it accomplished in itself and what it enabled Ufomammut to do afterwards.

The album itself is an absolute monster. At eight tracks/68 minutes, it feels almost insurmountable, but 28-minute closer “Demontain” doesn’t use all of its runtime. That song does underscore one of the key points that would later become essential to experiencing Ufomammut‘s work, however, and that is that it’s as much about the weight of the atmosphere the band creates as it is about the density of riffs or impact of grooves. Listening back to Snailking some 11 years after the fact, a song like “Odio” feels raw in comparison to a lot of what the trio have done since, but it’s important to keep in mind that even in their use of samples and synths to go with their sludgy riffing, Ufomammut were beginning the experiments that would become what we now think of today as cosmic doom in large part because of how they crafted it. The sometimes abrasive noise of “Alcool” and the rumble/explosion tradeoff of the earlier “Hopscotch” are the foundation points for Ufomammut‘s contributions to this aesthetic, and their roots in the likes of Neurosis and Sleep put them right in line with Oregon’s YOB, who are probably the only other band whose work has been so influential in the same sphere.

But it’s important to remember that Ufomammut are still writing their story, and that this album, which arrived four years after their 2000 debut, Godlike Snake, is but a pivotal chapter among several from the band. What they’d go on to do on records like 2008’s Idolum and 2010’s Eve (review here), their work in and with the Malleus art collective and their growth as a sustainable touring act has helped make them one of the finest groups of their generation, and while Snailking isn’t as expansive as what came after, it is in many ways a nexus point from which that Big Bang emanated.

Hope you enjoy.

I’m closing out the week early-ish on account of the fact that I’m interviewing Lori S. from Acid King at 4:30 (Eastern) and figure that’s as good a way to actually round out my day as anything else I can come up with. It was originally supposed to happen yesterday, the interview, but work stuff came up, as will apparently happen when one is gainfully employed.

…Sorry, had to stop for a couple seconds there and explore “gainful” in my head.

Might just have the Lorinterview (because portmanteau, that’s why!) up before next week is out, but if not definitely the week after since assuming everything goes to plan with the call we’ll be talking about the upcoming tour and it wouldn’t do to have the feature go up if the tour’s half over. We’re already almost halfway through September. Never mind July or August. What happened to June?

The last two weeks being four days at work helped, and having this past weekend to run down to Maryland for the Vultures of Volume II fest was huge for me. Thanks to everyone who got to check out either day’s review. I don’t think I did myself any favors with the second one being so long — I imagine most people who bothered to click in the first place either skimmed through one or two bands or just didn’t read it at all — but there was a lot to say. One day, 13 bands. That’s a lot to cover. Anyway, if you put eyes on any of it, thank you.

Also, if you didn’t see, Collyn McCoy made a passionate argument in favor of the forum yesterday and it was a joy to read. If you have a chance, I’d urge you to dig in and if you haven’t, please sign up to the forum and contribute there.

Next week, in addition to that interview (hopefully), look out for a track premiere on Monday from He Whose Ox is Gored and a review/full-stream on Tuesday from Leeches of Lore. Might try to review the new Windhand as well before the week is up. We’ll see how I wind up for time.

Thanks to everyone for reading this week, and please have a great and safe weekend. Please check out the forum and the radio stream.

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