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Ufomammut – Oro: Opus Primum

Neurot/Supernatural

I was wondering, as I took my copy of Topographic Oceans off the turntable, why the dark overlords at Freq Towers felt that I should review the new Ufomammut concept album that will be released in two instalments this year. I scratched my chin a slid the CD from its case and pondered to myself about this. Hmmmmm………

Oro seems to be based around some sort alchemical magickal process that transmutes base elements, such as human fears, into gold. So this is less of a story concept such as The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, but more like the above-mentioned Topographic Oceans, a concept about ideology. First track “Empireum” is a slow-building predominately synth piece whose feels hit similar territory as some of Burzum’s mid period keyboard epics with its continuous four note stanza. The track slowly builds into a full on space rocker as the drums collide with the droning guitars and the keyboards wobble to the cosmic void and feeling of the eerie under darkened skies pervades. “Aureum” smashes in with a big doom guitars and Acid Mothers-style keyboard twirls. Its slight psychedelic tone reminds me of bands like Spancer and Mammatus for its epic style riffage and nod towards ’70s festival rock but mainly as if Arthur Brown were playing in hell every night with a Hammond organ serenading Aleister Crowley. The vocals are buried at the back of the colliding riff and drums to make them sound like a howl from the underworld.

“Infearnatural” starts with big downtempo power chords while the vocals hiss snake like from a Garden of Eden of dread and despair. The big riff repeats itself over and is joined by space rock noodling keyboards to add a spacial dimension and reminds of Dave Greenfield‘s keyboard technique. The lyrics become spoken as if in an incantation; these are still buried beneath a barrage of guitars until the last few seconds of the track. “Magickon” begins with the same keyboard theme that starts the album and settles the feeling back into a more languid space as strange vocal atmospherics play out underneath it. Big bass notes slide in and suddenly we feel we are in evil King Crimson territory, one that’s broken into the studio and assaulted Meddle-era Pink Floyd.

The final track “Mindomine” starts with rolling drums and a four note bass riff as unnerving vocals chant hymn-like in the distance. These are, however, chants that could have been said by Sir Francis Dashwood in the Hellfire caves. Then the mighty doom riff hits in and you can already feel your head swaying from the black magick ooze. The track ends with a synth note and slight feedback held suspended in space.

Seeing as this is part one of grand masterwork it’s very hard to give an over all review for it; similar to reading half of a novel, I know there’s more to follow. This second half could make any overview I present here redundant as it could change the entire flavour of the concept as a whole not only in mood but also as a flowing tone poem. At this moment I would say it’s worth a purchase but will keep you wondering with bated breath for the next instalment. Now I just have to wait and see if the dark overlords feel I’m worthy to complete my initiation.

-Gary Parsons

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