Review Summary: Strengthening the sonic structures and leveling up on their quest to deliver the heaviest riffs possible…
One of the first things you must know about Ufomammut is that you should best focus on entire LPs rather than separate tracks. At first, I randomly picked out tunes out of their discography and didn’t understand much. I thought they often felt chopped and later realized they were actually pieces from a bigger puzzle. These Italians are one of the diminishing number of bands who keep alive the importance of conceptual albums, especially in this genre. The latest effort, 8
continues the stylistic direction Ecate
pursued, bringing the riffs upfront, while pushing the hazy atmosphere in the background. Here, the group cut a significant portion of the trademark ambient passages, focusing instead on grooves to accompany those diminishing parts. Also, the production is less opaque than ever, having a brighter sound that allows the sludge to properly unfold. The two bookending cuts, ‘Babel’ & ‘Psyrcle’ follow the usual trend of the opener slowly unfolding only to erupt into the hell we are accustomed to, whereas the closer gradually tones down finishing with a minute of fading electronics (and brass this time). Nevertheless, the transition is substantially abrupt when compared its predecessors, as they rapidly bring forth the dirt amid pulsing sound scapes and shouted vocals. There are moody segments too, however, the moments of recess are brief in this journey.
In between the abovementioned songs, pandemonium unleashes. If before they focused on a number of peaks which required patience and growing tension, on 8
it’s the other way round. There is almost no respite, because you plunge into an apocalyptic scenario where you’re constantly bludgeoned with lumbering riffs. ‘Warsheep’ starts rather "peaceful", focusing on a more traditional structure complete with prominent vocals. The band tried to diversify their approach to singing, still nothing sounds as compelling as the classic, manic shouts. Halfway, the distortion gets cranked and everything changes. As we reach the nucleus, we’re transported into very noisy territory driven by pounding drums and some of the clearest, well-formed structures Ufomammut presented us yet. ‘Zodiac’ bursts right through, shifting from heavily fuzzed rhythms to a southern metal inspired segment. Augmented by paranoid keyboards, they return to chugging patterns, before toning down to let you breathe a bit. As the bass plays a circular line, the guitar feedback is left to be reshaped by oscillators. Then, as expected a ***ing heavy riff further smashes your face off.
The succinct ditties, ‘Fatum & ‘Prismaze’ immediately bite at the neck, essentially continuing where ‘Zodiac’ left off. The fast paced tempos intertwining the syncopated parts are incredibly well-timed and catchy. The latter offers glimpses of the hazy earlier material, still the lucid, pummeling riffs are definitely part of the new sound. Moreover, ‘Core and ‘Wombdemonium’ continue the insane vibe through another round of sonic damage. What’s notable on 8
, there is more emphasis on drumming. Now that the production is clearly audible, Vita worked on improving his parts, playing some cool patterns alongside the guitar/bass onslaught. Also, he pushes the two when needed, adding a lot to the overall dynamics. The little details make the difference and it helps. While it might not be their best LP, this sure is a strong addition to the catalog. It sees them branching out, strengthening the foundations and advancing on their quest to craft the heaviest riffs possible.