Italian alchemists and power trio Ufomammut return with their ninth studio album, Fenice via Neurot Recordings.
But not as we’ve heard them before, now “more intimate, more free.”
For over 20 years, the band has combined the heaviness and majesty of dynamic riff worship with a nuanced understanding of psychedelic tradition and history in music, creating a cosmic, futuristic, and technicolor sound destined for absolute immersion.
Fenice (meaning Phoenix in Italian) symbolically represents endless rebirth and the ability to start again after everything seems doomed. The album is the first recording with new drummer Levre, and truly marks a new chapter in Ufomammut history.
Whilst the band are well-known for their psychedelic travels into the far reaches of the cosmos, Fenice is a much more introspective listening experience. Fenice was conceived as a single concept track, divided in six facets of this inward-facing focus. Sonic experimentations abound in the exploration of this central theme; synths and experimental vocal effects are featured more prominently than ever before as the band push themselves ever further into the uncharted territory of their very identity.
The towering synths on the opening track ‘Duat’ evoke an almighty machine rising from the depths of primordial ooze. There’s a shift to a frenetic garage-psych pace before mellowing out into a more familiar doomy stomp. ‘Kepherer’ is a respite, albeit a slight one, returning to the pulsing rhythms of the album’s intro before plunging the listener into the menacing build and release of ‘Psychostasia’ next.
The second half of the record brings with it an even greater sense of dynamic exploration. ‘Metamorphoenix’ oozes with curious synth patterns and noises, before descending into sinister chords and an oddly choral chant. An explosion of emotion heralds the beginning of ‘Pyramind’, all-encompassing in its riff worship and quasi-religious climax of mantra-esque vocals . ‘Empyros’ is groovy yet irregular, with rhythms interplaying and more chanting voices, bringing the records to its end with a sense of dedication and purpose.
Each oscillation of this extraordinary album feels inevitable – Ufomammut are after all, masters of their craft, and when it comes to creating enveloping sonic journeys into the unknown, it’s their uninhibited sense of exploration that breaches new sonic ground.
Fenice is the sound of a band whose very essence has been rejuvenated, and are welcoming the chance to create music in the way they know best; by unfolding carefully and attentively, by melding those extreme dynamics which render Fenice as a living and breathing creature – and by writing gargantuan riffs that herald their very rebirth.