Review Summary: Stoner doom like you've never heard it before. Headphones essential.
Of all the music I have ever heard, no band's name and sound match each other better than Ufomammut's. As good as “Radiohead” is at capturing a sense of 21st Century paranoia, or “King Crimson” at implying a sense of magic and majesty, the name “Ufomammut” (literally translating as “UFO mammoth”) is a one-two punch conveying something spacey and futuristic, but at the same time primal and monolithic. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what Italian stoner doom trio Ufomammut sound like.
Since their lo-fi 2000 debut Godlike Snake, the band has been juxtaposing bonecrushing Electric Wizard-style riffs with Floyd-like ambience and experimentation, and have produced some stunning records as a result. One of their most potent works is 2005's Lucifer Songs, an unreal mini-album that showcases all of their biggest strengths in just over half an hour. For those wanting to crack into Ufomammut's impressive discography, this is almost certainly the place to start.
Album opener 'Blind' hums to life with a cold, yawning drone, fogging up the sonic picture like breath on a mirror. It sounds infinite and melancholy, like the call of a whale filtered beyond almost all recognition. Forty seconds in, Ufomammut pulls the carpet out from beneath our feet with one of their many well-placed samples:
“Turn me on, dead man.”
At this point Lucifer Songs lurches to life, blood coursing through its veins, hungering. A bitcrushed bass groove gives way to demonic vocals, elephantine drums and wave after wave of distorted guitars. Ufomammut do not at this point, or any point in their discography for that matter, sound like humans playing instruments; the images they conjure are of demons shaping lava in their hands, of aliens stalking the surface of a distant planet, of ghosts shrieking in the depths of space. It sounds otherworldly. It sounds evil.
Lucifer Songs effortlessly segues from mouthwatering doom jams into more ambient territory, tracks like 'Blind' and the earth-shattering 'Mars' complimented by the brooding soundscapes 'Hypnotized' and 'Astrodronaut' (the latter being one of my favourite pieces of ambient music of all time). Much like the drone that opened the album, 'Astrodronaut' sounds like an earthly noise, namely an aeroplane engine, that has been warped and distorted to an almost unrecognisable extent.
And now comes an anomaly of Ufomammut's discography; on certain editions Lucifer Songs concludes with 'Astrodronaut', whereas on others it contains a sixth track, the titular 'Lucifer Song.' Those looking to download this album should ensure they get the latter version, as 'Lucifer Song' is not only the best song off of this album, but one of the most haunting and ego-shattering sonic experiences I have ever felt. Descriptions and interpretations will vary between listeners, but to me 'Lucifer Song' is an epic, apocalyptic synthesizer drone worthy of dying to. What the band accomplishes on this track, and with so few ingredients, is something that will play in the deepest recesses of my brain for the rest of my life.
Dismissing the half hour of silence that follows 'Lucifer Song', this album is a 35-minute blast of doom, malevolence and psychedelia like no other. As fun as it would be to pretend Ufomammut really are demon ghosts from space, ultimately we must admit they are none other than three bearded Italians in a room. But what these bearded Italians are capable of conjuring, shaping and sustaining is really, really worth checking out.