This far along, a band like Ufomammut needs no introduction. Their brand of psychedelic space doom ladened with crushing heaviness has been building steam since 1999. With their latest full length 8, this trio displays why they have been top tier for as long as they have. Doom, stoner and sludge can all be marred by try-hards, repetition and messy production but Ufomammut have, since their inception, been forward thinkers and extremely great songwriters which helps keep their material not only fresh but fully engaging. 18 years on, 8 is another letter perfect example of this.
The only real detractor I’ve ever seen when discussions about Ufomammut come up is that early on while relying more on the weight of their songs the band’s repetitious tendency would flush out interest over the course of a marathon track like “Hozomeen” from debut Godlike Snake. And even though I can understand this thought process I’ve never agreed with it. It comes down to how good a band can keep their listeners engaged and looking forward to the next few minutes or, more to the point, excited to see where they will take a song along the course of 15 plus minutes. The answer for Ufomammut has always been: take a listener to places they didn’t know they wanted to go but buckle them in for the long haul. For these types of long hauls patience is indeed a virtue but here, every riff, tribal pattern and/or spaced out atmospheric moment in time pays off exponentially and particularly so in the context of the whole album in one sitting.
Ufomammut has done a lot thus far – from long songs to ambient tracks to one song as an entire album (Eve, which was gracious in its entirety) and with their last full length Ecate they showed a slight shift towards packing as much as possible into shorter timeframes. True, “Chaosecret” and “Daemons” were 10 minutes plus but still they packed an hours worth of ideas into just these two tracks. With 8 the longest track is a shade over 8 minutes, opener “Babel” which serves to set the tone of the album from the onset is full of aggressive tribal drum patterns and Urlo’s vocals sound like he’s underwater giving an all encompassing feel to them. By the time we encounter riff repetition the band has hooked us. Completely. As they always do.
It would be easy at this point to draw comparisons to statesman in the doom/metal spectrum but then again comparisons don’t befit the overall scope of Ufomammut and never have. Maybe Pink Floyd meets YOB but then the inherent heaviness of a track like “Core” would be lost. Or we could try High On Fire meets Yes but the surprise guitar theatrics and dark atmosphere in “Zodiac” would be lost. And we haven’t even discussed the epic scope and grandeur experimentation of album closer “Psyrcle” which is jaw dropping to say the least. Bottom line is, Ufomammut is and always has been a band that escapes easy comparisons because of their densely layered approach to songwriting. But the key to this band is how they set their hooks and force you to listen intently. As far back as the aforementioned debut to the two album thematic Oro: Opus to now with 8, the ability to immerse the listener in not only the music but the atmosphere created in each moment has always kept me clamoring for more and always returning to their discography.
On 8 Ufomammut have nothing left to prove yet they still are the best at providing forward thinking and thought provoking metal that transcends not only genre tags but their peers as well. If this band is not one of your favorites I challenge you to have some patience and let yourself go – meaning really listen and dropping all else – with 8, or any of their other albums for that matter, and see if you come away with a different point of view. For those of us that already know, 8 is another excellent album in a long line of excellent albums from an excellent band. Period.