Doomthousandnineteen: Ufomammut, Intothecrypt, & Shades of Deep Water
Three very different approaches to doom.
Ufomammut – XX
To celebrate their twentieth year as a band, Ufomammut is releasing a massive box-set compilation of nine albums early September. The first eight of these will naturally be the band’s eight studio albums – Godlike Snake, Snailking, Lucifer Songs, Idolum, Eve, the ORO -duo, Ecate and 8, while the last one will carry the same title as the compilation – XX. This last record will feature six songs from their back catalog, re-recorded during their latest European tour, one from each album with the exceptions of their latest and Eve, which consisted of only one 44-minute long song. Each of the albums comes housed in sleeves with exclusive artwork created specifically for this box-set, which also includes a 64-page book with photos, original artworks and lyrics to each song.
Even the original versions of these songs would barely cross the line of 30 minutes, put together, but each of the new versions are shorter, “Satan” only by 10 seconds, but “Infearnal” by almost four minutes. While still retaining some of their previously psychedelic flavour and groove, the keyboard arrangements are more spacey and lighter in tone, and the vocals have been stripped of all aggression, bassist Urlo instead opting to sing softly. The best and the brightest may by now have realized that XX is what could be called an acoustic album, though strictly speaking it is not so, still utilizing synthesizers and electric guitars but effectively that is what it is. Monster Magnet’s ballads in general, and the first of their re-imagined albums, Milking The Stars, seem like the best pointers at what kind of music to expect. Closer “Destroyer”, “Satan” and “Lacrimosa” serve as the record’s highlights, with the foremost’s picked first-half running dreamlike towards explosive ending, the opener transforming into a trance-inducing hymn and “Lacrimosa” becoming an eerie-synth ballad.
I’ve enjoyed most of Ufomammut’s back-catalog and especially the ORO duo still frequents my plate. Many a metal/rock band these days has tried their hands at crafting a acoustic versions of their old songs, but as is to be expected, not often are the results above passable. Ufomammut is certainly not among the first bands I would have wagered to succeed well in this trial, or to even desire to try, but succeeded they have. The aforementioned three versions having already become personal favourites in their discography.
3.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
INTOTHECRYPT – Vakor
Initially envisioned as a studio-project between the trio of guitarist Harald, bassist/vocalist Velingor and drummer Ottar, after the hiatus/dissolution of Tumulus, their folk metal band, INTOTHECRYPT set out to meld their old bands influences with elements from both black and death metal with with the viking-era of Bathory and the doom metal of Russian cult band Scald, each of the members having played in it’s sole album Will of The Gods Is Great Power as well, and eventually morphed into one possibility of what Scald could have sounded like, had their career continued, and had Agyl not met his untimely end in a railroad accident.
On top of their already wide variety of influences, INTOTHECRYPT has assembled a concept based on Slavic and Fenno-Ugric mythologies which emerged as Slavs first made contact with Fenno-Ugric culture on the North and North Eastern regions of the Ancient Rus. Tied together with a frame story of a shaman living at the crossroads of the two cultures and combining their beliefs and magical practices. While some of the lyrics have been written in English, many of them use Ancient Russian, Fenno-Ugric and Russian dialectical vocabulary and are based on Ancient Russian grammar.
All of this could easily become a mess, but the influences come together naturally. At the heart of Vakor is doom, not entirely unlike Scald’s, but not as slow, or purely reliant on riffs. The more atmospheric approach, mid-tempo and scarce but big melodies draw INTOTHECRYPT considerably closer to Bathory, further bolstered with the use of guest clean vocalists and choirs. The folk metal of Tumulus is mostly hinted at whenever additional instruments, flutes, harps, etc make an appearance, but occasionally in the melodic flavour as well. The extreme metal influences are hardly there at all, most prominently in Velingor’s coarse vocal approach and the few most primal riffs.
Unfortunately the concoction is not as endearing as it’s concept. The scope is never as grandiose as some of Vakor’s building blocks would lead to believe, and little of the riffing is remarkable, the soft, muffled guitar tone doesn’t help them stand out either, occasionally burying them under everything else. The songwriting isn’t quite there either, mostly just stumbling around or standing in one place, waiting for the next guitar lead to happen. Unlike Scald, Tumulus had a sizable career, during which they never truly hit it out of the ballpark. Vakor has an interesting concept, and INTOTHECRYPT have quickly developed a coherent mix from all their influences. Here’s to hoping that they manage to harness the potential in their brew and write a record as interesting as it’s concept next time around, leaving their rough beginnings as just that.
2,5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Shades of Deep Water – Syvien Sävyjen Universumi / The Desolation
A one man band found in 2006, Shades of Deep Water has been honing it’s skills over several demos, EPs and a full-length. The latest two of those EPs were compiled into a digital compilation called Shades of Deep Water’s Universe, later re-released by Dunkelheit Productions, simply carrying the names of those two EPs. Though officially declared as a Funeral / Death Doom band, there’s little in the way of funeral doom on Syvien Sävyjen Universumi. The three songs presented are largely uptempo for death/doom and adorned with plentiful lead melodies reminiscent of Paradise Lost. Only the closer “Decades” slows to a crawl, echoing the project’s bleaker side. While The Desolation doesn’t dive headlong into the streams from the heavens either, it does exhibit a far more torturous side to SoDW’s sound, not excluding the melodiousness, but keeping it far away from the British gothdoomers, and heading into a rawer, heavier general direction.
While I do enjoy both EPs, I can’t help but to feel Syvien Sävyjen Universumi was but a prelude, far easier to digest and more pleasant to listen than The Desolation, which I have come to prefer. Even at it’s darkest, SSU retained a sense of hope, remaining wistful throughout rather than sinking into any true depths of despair, whereas The Desolation harnesses anguish to a cathartic effect. Shades of Deep Water is soon releasing it’s sophomore full-length, and that’s when the (total, complete and utterly absolute lack of) fun truly begins, so keep your eyes open, we’ll soon be getting into it, and consider this your first warning.