U.S. Christmas - Eat the Low Dogs (CD)
Eat the Low Dogs is a beautifully dark and medicating record that fewer ears will hear than it deserves. It rocks, laments and hollers from the mountainous region of Marion, North Carolina with an enduring gloom that feels archaic and steadfast throughout. The old-timer influences are vast, but U.S. Christmas' old/new merged sound is unified and deliberate: Hawkwind, Neil Young and slow-burn sludge metal such as Neurosis or Isis with their amps to eleven all play a role in U.S. Christmas' composite sound which is less sinister as it is somber. The muddling of genres results in a drug-addled state of alternating between southern rock, psych outbursts and old-fashioned country. A grim sincerity permeates the album's core and the drawn-out hymns recall a southern fried Pageninetynine at their most fleshed out, downtrodden and helpless. Eat the Low Dogs is the blues for a generation of misfit types with social problems, from a handful of miscreants with those same problems.
Eat the Low Dogs should be a beacon of soft light in the minds of sludge lovers, ex-psychedelics and people who enjoy a voyage through forlorn dirges that are as murky as they are somber. It is honest and escapes classification while feeling consistent throughout. U.S. Christmas has created a long-playing set of dreary songs that won't drain you but rather cauterize any open wounds; it's a detox system for the loner, medication for the malefactor and prescribed music for the passionately low.
Waves of psychedelic rock wash your bloated corpse up onto distant shores. You wake up as a zombie, desperate for death and release from this undead state. “Eat the Low Dogs” slowly plays in the distance and you find your inhuman feet slowly marching to the beat towards the sound. When you get to your destination, you cannot hope but notice the cascading guitars and airy effects that mingle with the multiple layers, layers that barely mask the descending steps into the seven hells. Dusty melodies bask in the glory alongside synthesizers and theremin. Imagine Red Sparowes on LSD, for a week, with nothing but songwriting to occupy their time. Heavy space rock, defined, despite their holiday inspired moniker, U.S. Christmas.
U.S. Christmas - Run Thick in the Night (CD)
U.S. Christmas are one of those rare bands who can meld seemingly disparate elements together to form their own cohesive and distinct sound. Think Neil Young jamming with Hawkwind, Spacemen 3 and Pink Floyd, and you're in the right direction, but comparisons like those don't even give them their due credit. Bands like USX (as they're commonly referred to...) are more than the sum of their parts. Although the influences are distinct, they've got their own thing going on, and it's fully righteous. Fans of latter day Earth, Across Tundras, and all things trippy take note.
Ufomammut - Ecate (CD)
Ecate is the seventh and latest album from Italian power trio, Ufomammut. Ecate is the ancient Greek goddess of the three worlds; The World of Humans, The World of the Gods and The World of the Dead. Throughout the centuries, her powerful figure has transformed in shape and meaning. As were many pagan deities, she came to be viewed as a negative entity associated with witchcraft and black magic by the Christian church.
Ufomammut’s Ecate is composed of six separate tracks, each one is a representation of one of her many manifestations. This album is surely an evolution in terms of composition and song structure. Ecate takes the epic nature of their last Neurot release, ORO, and distils it further into something more concise, aggressive, and yet as complex as the goddess, Ecate herself. Here the band continues to climb and further expand upon their previous works by infusing them into Ecate, giving the past a new form. Just as the goddess presents herself in three different forms, so too the music moves between multiple levels of existence.
Ufomammut - Eve (Re-issue) (IMPORT) (CD)
Re-issued in a digipak.
Few records offer the kind of sonic transportation you get from Eve. With confidence and an assured sense of positioning, Ufomammut puts you exactly where they want you to be at every moment of the record, and yet there’s nothing contrived or overdone about it. To say it’s one of the best albums you’ll hear this year is an understatement. Eve is an album with the power to grant Ufomammut recognition they’ve long deserved, and a forward-looking statement that although many in the myriad subgenres of doom are content to rehash what’s already been done, there are still fresh avenues to pursue. The band’s will toward exploration and experimentation is at the forefront, but they never lose sight of the heaviness that remains at their core, and as such, Eve is a crowning achievement.
Ufomammut - Idolum (Digipack Re-issue) (IMPORT) (CD)
Re-issued in a digipak with alternate cover art.
"Idolum" is the fourth album of Ufomammut. Out April 2008 is a new chapter in the sonic adventure of Ufomammut, presenting a sensible evolution in the sound and in the structure of the songs: dark atmospheres, simple and mastodontic song frameworks, a different idea of psichedelic rock.
Ufomammut - Idolum (Jewel Case Version) (IMPORT) (CD)
Idolum, isn't perfect, but it comes about as close as I could hope. And it does what all albums should but most fail to accomplish – unequivocally reaffirms my love of music. Ufomammut takes the crushing heft of sludge-like doom and coats it with a shimmering gloss of heavy psychedelia. The songs are direct, but swirling around them is a tapestry of sounds. That makes for a dense listen – it's impossible to catch everything in one pass. What's new on Idolum – or at least more obvious – is the melody. A closer listen shows that there's more to the band underneath the distorted screams (courtesy of of bassist Urlo) - there's actual singing going on. It's what allows the band to soar so high before diving back down to darkness throughout the album. Does Idolum redefine what it means to play heavy music? Possibly – there's an emotional complexity that adds depth to their massive wall of sound. It is for certain colossal, unstoppable, and beautiful; a mammoth achievement by the band.
They add some definition to the songs without losing Ufomammut's signature offworld sludge maelstrom. The most instantly gratifying of their records, I'd say, and apt to expand their listening base.
I like them in that their albums always take a few listens before you start to figure out what's going on. More density than complexity to their compositions.
Ufomammut - Lucifer Songs (Re-issue) (IMPORT) (2CD)
Includes a bonus DVD featuring 3 videos and 6 soundscapes.
Holy mother of fuck. That’s all that really needs to be said about Ufomammut’s Lucifer Songs. If you thought Godlike Snake and last year’s Snailking were peerless slabs of psychedelic doom, then you’re in for a real treat with this one. Rolling, distorted bass lines, otherworldly singing that seems to leap out at you from some hellish plane of existence, thick, psychedelic riffs, powerful drumming, and a background of effects. Their take on doom is almost indescribable – it just is. Their songwriting almost broaches a symphonic state, where each note is an epic in its own right. Holy mother of fuck, this is good.
Ufomammut - Oro: Opus Alter (CD)
Italian psychedelic sludge purveyors Ufomammut present Opus Alter, the second half of their new album Oro. The first half is the album, Opus Primum. As with all previous Ufomammut albums, the concepts behind Oro are expansive and multi-faceted, mutating the Italian palindrome which translates to “gold” with the Latin translation of “I prey.” Oro is the alchemical process to transform the human fears into pure essence; into Gold. Although Oro’s two chapters are released months apart from each other, they must be considered as a single track in which the musical themes and the sounds show up and hide, mutating and evolving, progressively and increasingly stratifying culminating in the crushing final movement. Oro is like an alchemic laboratory in which substances are flowing, dividing and blending themselves in ten increments from the alembics and stills, culminating into the creation of Gold.
Opus Alter proudly takes up the torch from its forebear, Opus Primum to form the second half of ORO, an exploration of 'knowledge and power' the band insists should be approached as one whole experience. And altogether, it works; the two halves complement each other effortlessly, combining to create one enormous, uncompromising but satisfying listening prospect. Where Primum often worked towards textured heaviness, crushing your ears into willing submission by way of slow accumulation of layers, Alter is somewhat less formal, decked out in the sort of unashamedly bludgeoning, sledgehammer statement riffs to make Mastodon cry. Not to say Primum wasn't already heavy as fuck, but if that first half was the wild eyed stranger who coaxed you into the alley for a toke of his funny-looking cigarette, Alter is the point at which you realise you're smoking a neutron star.
Despite its directness, this is still music that is entirely nuanced, always delivering new subtleties on repeated listens and always startling in its ability to plumb new depths of numbing heaviness. To put it bluntly there's a lot going on here at any given moment, and it's been engineered to digest over a long time.
Ufomammut - Oro: Opus Primum (CD)
As with all previous Ufomammut albums, the concepts behind Oro are expansive and multi-faceted, mutating the Italian palindrome which translates to “gold” with the Latin translation of “I prey.” Oro explores the concept of knowledge and its power; the magical stream controlled by the human mind to gain control of every single particle of the World surrounding us. Oro is the alchemical process to transform the human fears into pure essence; into Gold. Although Oro’s two chapters will be released months apart from each other, they must be considered as a single track in which the musical themes and the sounds show up and hide, mutating and evolving, progressively and increasingly stratifying culminating in the crushing final movement. Oro is like an alchemic laboratory in which substances are flowing, dividing and blending themselves in ten increments from the alembics and stills, culminating into the creation of Gold.
Ufomammut - Snailking (Re-issue) (IMPORT) (CD)
Full on psychedelia laced with enough doom to make you wonder: this is the album that Electric Wizard didn't make. Vocal sounds bordering on Filth Pig era Jourgenson(Ministry) meets Electric Wizard. The jams infused with slabs of mountainous riffage that start from the opening track and doesn't let up. The production is stunning and will leave your head spinning. The sounds wander aimlessly through your head, as the ulimate stoner doom album transcends the mind. This IS what stoner rock is all about, folks. Well worth the wait.
Snailking’s 8 songs are about intertwining crushing noise and dead space. A riff can float off on its own, while another one builds up underneath the distortion. Impressive stuff, in the vein of Sons of Otis, Buried at Sea, or latter-day Electric Wizard. Their use of keyboards and sound samples (such as the Grim Reaper from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life) adds to the overall mood of the album. There’s not a wasted note, nor a weak track. They know when to ride the note, when to create a wall of sound, or when to layer the effects. It’s doom, it’s sludge, it’s full on metal. Like Yob’s releases, Snailking’s original and catchy work by a band worth keeping an eye on. Highly recommended.
With Snailking, their second full length release, Ufomammut continue to blow minds with their own unique brand of psychedelic sludge. With long songs, droning vocals and massive effects Ufomammut is right there along side of Neurosis, Sons of Otis and Electric Wizard. Ufomammut is thick, swirling, punishing sludge--over-indulging in Fuzz and psychedelics. This 8-song album represents the best in this sub category of Stoner/Doom. Lots of guitar tracks, echoplex style delay, samples and synth all the way through. A real moody trip from beginning to end. Snailking was recorded in the back woods of Italy’s mountains over a period of 4 weeks. The band holed themselves up in seclusion and let the creativity flow! The result is monumental! Highly recommended!