"Oro: Opus Primum"

By Earthdog

It seems like I am reviewing all the albums of the year all at once and here comes another; the new effort from Italian space-rock doomsters Ufomammut. Formed in Northern Italy in 1999, this is one band that has been remarkably consistent. They have yet to release an album that is anything less than mind-blowing and this album doesn't disappoint either. I am guessing what keeps Ufomammut delivering such high-quality releases is they are always pushing themselves into uncharted waters.

They are always coming up with fresh concepts and while musically, you can draw comparisons between all their albums, they all have a personality of their own. This new album titled 'Oro: Opus Primum' is far more cinematic than what they have done in the past. The entire album plays like a soundtrack with all the tracks bleeding together into the one concise stream of psychedelic doom enchantment. Their last album 'Eve' was a masterstroke in its own right so I for one didn't think they could follow it but they have.....and how!

Ufomammut have always been a challenging band for doom metal fans and at a guess, I would say their music is just TOO challenging for most doom-metal listeners. Whether it is the bleakness or the overwhelming ambitious nature of their recordings; some folks just don't get it. For those that do get it, this should be considered their best work yet.

The mood of the album is created very early on with 'Empireum' that gets this mind-expanding, multi-faceted release off and running. It begins with almost tribal-like drumming, spaced out electronics, vocals that weave in and out and it slowly comes to life building in tension. As the track grows in dramatics, so does the crushing heaviness and it ends up being one very oppressive doom piece. At 13:55 long, it won't be for everyone but you can also say that about every album that this band has ever done. One thing is certain, 'Empireum' is another classic piece of Ufomammut sonic, psychedelic dirge but the cinematic qualities are cranked up an extra-notch on this one.

'Aureum' that follows next is a bit more lumbering but dare I say, a more uplifting musical experience compared with the opening tune. The monster riff that is the basis to the track stumbles along like a woolly mammoth stomping and crushing everything in its path. The track is broken up at the halfway mark of the piece with a surprisingly catchy boost in tempo and it all builds to a exhilarating climax after 12 breath-taking minutes. The album then shifts gears ever so slightly, the songs become a lot shorter (but still over 7 minutes) and the album seems to become even more dense and clouded in atmospheric fog. The first track of the three that make up the second half of the album is titled 'Infearnatural' and it is a marvel at sustained minimalistic doomed psychedelia. The repetitive side of their songwriting is put to good use as they are one of the few bands that can play the same riff repeatedly and seem to be doing something else with it each and every-time they play it. 'Magickon' follows in similar fashion, only this time with an even bigger emphasis on atmospherics. 'Magickon' is multi-layered and rife with tension-filled elements that draw the listener into the track for all of its 7:57.

The album closing track is another great track and a mystical journey that is very hypnotic. Titled 'Midomine' it features vocal samples and unnerving sound effects that sound very disturbing through headphones. The riffs are ugly which only increases the chilling atmosphere that this track pushes out. Again it is all about tension and delivering moods and feels and it rounds out the album in a exhilarating way after 50-something minutes. The music on this release is mostly instrumental but Ufomammut are a band that don't really need vocals. The vocals that are present on 'Oro: Opus Primum' are low in the mix but that suits the chilling tension that the tracks on this album have. Ufommamut are a crushing doom band but in my mind, they are also taking psychedelic rock to places it has never been before. Full of emotional depth, atmospheric complexities and breath-taking melodies and riffing; 'Oro: Opus Primum' is the most detailed, ambitious piece of work that Ufomammut have ever recorded. Highly Recommended.....9.5/10.