Monument to a God

It’s hard getting through a review of a Ufomammut record without using the word ‘cosmic’ such is the Italian group’s skyward trajectory over their eight albums of drones, riffs and psychotropic wobbliness. After the two part Oro releases in 2012 Ectate represents a more worldly, back to basics approach if such a method really applies here. What it means in practice is six standalone songs that relate to the aspects of the Greek Goddess Ectate and a variation in length from three to ten minutes. See, basic stuff.

So the record is scaling down Ufomammut’s approach in terms of recorded time if not their scope. Ectate is familiar in sound with swells of electronics that sound like the Tardis warming up complemented by gloopy, martial beats and the weight of the sludge indebted guitar sounds. In fact, all of that occurs in the first few minutes of the album’s first track, Somnium, and from there Ufomammut keep the fire of the riff factory burning, belching out metallic plumes as they bludgeon on and on.

The monumental repetition and all encompassing waves of noise of the opener and Plouton, which seeks to crush the mass of the ten minute Somnium into three punishing, distorted minutes and succeeds exhilaratingly, are replaced with resonating eastern vibrations and wider spaces on Chaosecret. This song comes on like Al Cisneros’ OM with its insidious grooves before breaking out of the coils it created for itself. Revelation does something similar as long tendrils of synthesiser stretch out as the Italians reference Pink Floyd with strums of acoustic guitar and snatched vocal samples adding to the desolate synth.

These quieter moments are punctuated by the grinning stoner stomp of the more straightforward headbanging bullshit of Temple which is itself outgunned by the punishing closing track Daemon which does a good job of crystallising the whole record into one track with some of the best riffs and driving rhythms bringing out the best of Urlo’s throat before the noise gives way to an ominous horror flick organ swell and lingering keyboard notes to bring down the curtain on their eighth studio release.

After the last few records which were heavy on length and concept Ectate almost feels like a palette cleanser for Ufomammut, much like The Hunter was for Mastodon after Crack the Skye. By distilling their expansive sound down to its base elements Ufomammut have created psychedelic concision and maybe the best record to introduce yourself to these stellar Italians.