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UFOMammut - Eve

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Artist: UFOMammut

Album: Eve

Label: SupernaturalCat

Review date: Jul. 23, 2010

Italy’s Ufomammut (literally and accurately: flying saucer mammoth) have spewed sludge of the highest order for 10 years now. As attention has turned toward all things doomish, they’ve gotten notice, but not nearly enough. Parts of their aesthetic are caught in the 1990s — lengthy stoned crawls like Sleep and Earth, midnight film samples, Godflesh synths foaming up through waves of noise, the dread atmosphere of endgame Swans. From the present-day perspective, that’s a decent list of the ‘90s legacy worth carrying forward. Ufommamut have the head start.

Eve is an album-length piece, one song in five sections about, yep, the first woman. I’m pretty sure the third section, at a brief three minutes, is where she and Adam are driven from Eden. It could force boulders out of Eden. It’s a storm. That would mean the passage before it is the conversation with the snake.

And indeed, that part is lead by a Twilight Zone three-tone nag upsetting the relatively calm opening. Though the vocals are wordless, it’s not hard to take these arrangements literally, as program music. The crash which opens the album are a brocade curtain drawn open, and it ends with the lights dimming. It’s not theatrical exactly, but it sure is metal, and metal has an inherent sense of drama. The vocals may tend towards the choral, and there’s never a guitar solo, but the force that accumulates owes everything to vacuum tubes and slow bangs of the head. These guys aim for something distant and otherworldly, and using metal phrasing, they get there. As over-reaching as the topic might seem, Eve dredges up feelings of both reverence and blasphemy.

On the one hand, Eve is a series of restrained teases that set up the earthquakes. It can play as supremely dark rock album. They’ve broken it up into separate tracks, rather than demanding that it be swallowed whole, which is convenient. In the end, though, the disc does work best as a unified piece of music. Even when starting midway, there’s a compulsion to listen to the end. The trio doesn’t embellish their playing, rare for guys who’ve been at this so long. Each of them adds electronic effects, warps and whispers generated when they’re not on guitar or drums. Abrupt changes aren’t merely volume changes. When the thunderbolts strike, it startles, even though the clouds thickened very gradually, notes accumulating across sparse phrases. Implied rhythms suddenly snap into place and hit hard.

The best of their previous releases, Snailking and Idolum, both end with 30 minute tracks. Those climaxes employed the same methods of suspense. The but long tracks didn’t outshine the free-standing songs. The theme on Eve got this band to the destination they’d been headed towards. Lester Bangs famously described Black Sabbath as a Catholic rock group. Most of the bands in their wake have been grounded in other myths- paganism, Lovecraft. Metal has been busy reacting agaist different dogmas. The Eve here is Eve the Matriarch, a saint who didn’t follow God’s orders. They’ve made a shrine, with the cracked colors and stare of an icon.

By Ben Donnelly

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