Review Archive: Ufomammut – Snailking (2004)
Posted by Terrible Certainty Zine
Snailking. What a marvelous name for a doom album. And if Ufomammut were your typical doom band, I would probably run with that simile in the expected direction, comparing the pace of the album to the slow and deliberate mollusk. But even if Ufomammut played at the typical crawling doom rate, which they don’t, that wouldn’t be the most appropriate comparison. Rather, it’s the spiralling shell of the snail that creates the most fitting image of the band’s sound, as Ufomammut are a different kind of animal altogether. Sure, they have the requisite monolithic booming lumber of most doom acts, but they add more up-tempo stoner rock elements, and most characteristically, a heavily psychedelic haze that gives Ufomammut an entirely unique sound.
This is the second release from the Italians, following 2000′s Godlike Snake. Although the album is most easily categorized as doom, the band infuses their brand of the genre with stoner metal, ‘70′s psychedelic rock and even a bit of ambience. Imagine a tie dye with the colors YOB, Kyuss, Jimi Hendrix, and mid-era Pink Floyd, and you will begin to get an idea of the band’s unique flavor. Tendrils of psychedelia accent the grimy riffing and grooves, like lingering smoke rings. Many of the songs also have an echoing, spacey presence that contributes to the whole “one pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small” feel of Snailking. Dialogue samples also make occasional appearances, yet traditional lyrics are sparse. “Hopscotch” is one of the more up-tempo songs on the album and also includes more singing, in this case a repetitive and emphatic melody. “Odio” is a guitar driven track with a repeating riff reminiscent of Kyuss and Louder Than Love era Soundgarden. The band uses all the tricks up its sleeve on “Lacrimosa”, taking advantage of spacey echos, a drug drenched doubled vocal, samples, and some backwards “Third Stone From the Sun”-like material. Then of course there are the riffs themselves, which never disappoint. Sometimes slow and brooding, and at others rollicking and loose, Ufomammut seem to always find the right combination. The drumming is interesting and a bit faster than usual for the genre, especially the kick drum. “God” is driven by a drum and bass line, while acid laced ambience weaves its way in and out of the riffs. The album is capped off with the half hour “Demontain”, a track that utilizes sparse ambience as well as some tremendously heavy riffing. It is a study in patience, but has some good moments.
Snailking offers the best of both worlds by leveraging otherwise crushing doom with the lighter and ethereal sounds of psychedelia. Ufomammut are truly doing their own thing and it will be interesting to see what this young band does next. In the meantime, tune in and drop out. Spiral out; ride the snail.
Originally published at MetalReview