In 2012 Ufomammut* released a great, great LP Oro: Opus Primum, an atmospheric monolith of a space rocker that sounded like something going very wrong indeed on an intergalactic mining vessel. A few months later they released Oro: Opus Alter, an atmospheric monolith of a space rocker that sounded like something going very wrong indeed on an intergalactic mining vessel – with extra heaviness.
I confess it has taken me a lot longer to get to grips with Oro: Opus Alter** than its’ predecessor, it is far heavier in places and lacked some of the spacey synth hooks that snagged me first time around. These last couple of weeks have been the first time I have spent some proper darkened room listening time with it since I bought it, this is a hazardous procedure which usually involves me falling fast asleep within 3 minutes of the first track and waking up 5 hours later with drool soaking the front of my shirt and a stone cold coffee, which I always drink – I think it would be a tad unfair to blame Ufomammut for that though. I have now spent some proper time on Opus Alter and I have been very well rewarded as a result.
‘Are you really a wizard?’, a female voice asks 8 minutes into the aptly named ‘Sublime’, I was shocked; these are the first discernible words, in English or Italian, I have ever heard on a Ufomammut LP, the sparse vocals are usually there for texture alone. This is a great track too, all spacey build up and atmosphere before a slow, marching, harsh riff kicks in that sounds like the sort of thing that Treebeard and his ents would groove to, weighty. All manner of instrumental freakery breaks out underneath the main guitar figure, which sounds more and more industrial^ with each repetition. Then everything calms down for a minute or two until the final track on the LP, ‘Deityrant’ which starts off impossibly heavy and ends up somewhere north of implausibly hefty, before lapsing back into static and calm again. It really is quite a thing to behold (behear? be-sperience?).
I knew that Oro translates into Italian as ‘gold’ and into Latin as ‘pray’ or ‘supplicate’ and that the themes of the LPs touch on both^^, but what I didn’t know was that Ufomammut conceived both the Oro LPs as a single track divided into 10 separate parts (each LP has 5 tracks). Much as it pains me to say it we’re bordering on prog metal here, which is fine and dandy when it hits as hard as the opener ‘Oroborus’ does. Then along comes ‘Luxon’ and just ups the heaviositynessiness exponentially, it just absolutely pulverizes me. All of which then fades to a moment of molten space, before ‘Sulphurdew’ slams in, sounding not unlike rockabilly played by a mountain range – the bass on this track is particularly brilliant.
As always there are some constants with Ufomammut. The playing throughout is awesome, never showy, everything subsumed within the whole ensemble. The cover art by Malleus is, again, brilliant – a kind of art nouveau from beyond a future grave. Opus Alter is a record of real substance and heft, musically and artistically – it’s the kind of thing I get a real kick out of owning and exploring time and time again.
So the next time you find yourself with the urge to, umm, aurally explore the surface of a deserted prison planet, picking your way carefully through the debris worrying about every last click, beep and clanging you can hear emanating from the levels below you then cue up Opus Alter.
684 Down (in the cargo hold).
PS: I have, today done the whole 10 part two LP one track thing. Wow.
*who, I’m sure very proudly, boast the twin accolades of being both my favourite Italian space stoner doom metal band and the inaugural winners of the 1537 LP of the year award with Oro: Opus Primum.
**henceforth to be referred to as Opus Alter, to save my sensitive little typing fingers.
^as in pertaining to the noises made by heavy manufacturing industry, rather than in the sense of shouty music made by shaven-headed Belgians.
^^as does last year’s mighty Ecate.