The twin disciplines of sludge and doom can be a tough sell to those not already immersed in the genre, with very little flash and its usual pace leaving fewer opportunities for catharsis, plus a distinct lack of euphoric singalong moments to hook in new listeners. Italian trio Ufomammut may well be that rare breed of band that can appeal to many with the sheer quality of their magnificent noise.
That magnificence begins with ‘Somnium’ as synths vibrate and pulse as if a giant spacecraft is warming its engines and then ghostly voices chant in the background before a huge dirty cloud of riffs appear (as of course they must) and rain down oppressively upon your head. That foul weather briefly clears as at around six minutes a more contemplative, hushed air presides. Not for the last time there is a feeling of calmness brought about by ritual. There is something quite zen about Ufomammut, an inner peace even within their most grotesque, sludgiest sounds. Rhythms seem to have paths and the effect of their crushing, repetitive riffs can be to put you in trance like state. The epic ‘Chaosecret’ begins with what sounds like sound therapy bowls, used to treat people with hearing conditions, ironically. It is brilliantly cleansing after the primal roar of the preceding ‘Plouton’. ‘Chaosecret’ starts as a creeping, deathly chug and ends a thunderous nightmare with synths set at dentist drill pitch.
‘Temple’ features perhaps both the band’s best use of samples, a gabbling clamour of voices (very Ministry) and their cleanest singing, which is often deliberately distorted and obtuse. ‘Temple’ is a banger from beginning to end and may be a good entry point for the uninitiated. The repeated lyric –
“As above,so below”
along with many of the song titles hints at a distinct Biblical theme. ‘Revelations’ forgoes the heaviness for an ambient mood and could be The Orb with a bit more grime under the nails. It is, of course, just the calm before the closing storm of ‘Daemons’, the surging, tumultuous ending that such a record always required.
What this album makes clear is that Ufomammut understand the possibilities of noise; they use samples and synths to elevate their punishing sludge to a higher art form. The attention to detail is remarkable throughout “Ecate” and so whilst they have much in common with The Melvins and The Butthole Surfers, Ufomammut seem more akin to artful technicians than surly punks or acid-fried idiot savants.