There are not infrequent debates on various social media channels (not least on my own Facebook page last week) about whose responsibility it is to actually promote a gig and attract fans to it. It is an argument which I have absolutely no intention to rehearse once again on here – suffice to say that there was absolutely zero promotion ahead of that tonight’s visit to the fair city of Belfast by Italian stoner legends Ufomammut: no posters in the venue or elsewhere… not even an event page of the aforementioned Bakebook! As recently as a few days beforehand, some were openly questioning whether the gig was actually going ahead, such was the lack of information about it. But, then, sometimes an artist’s reputation precedes them, and that is enough promotion on its own. And so it proved this evening as, despite it also being a Tuesday night and the start of a busy week of gigs (it’s the first of six in five nights for your hard-working PM Belfast team), there is an extremely healthy crowd milling around in the darkened first floor venue.
Perhaps the last minute addition of local sludgers Slomatics helped with the audience turnout, as, over the past decade or so, the trio have consistently proven that they are one of the most popular acts on the local metal scene over here. And their brand of dense, swampy, down-tuned, dirty grind certainly proves the perfect scene opener.
Despite drummer/vocalist Marty (pictured right) suffering a few technical problems with his microphone – which possibly very few but the highly efficient sound engineer noticed – during the opening numbers, the band are tight and efficient, as they always are. Their thick, beefy, grunting twin guitar riffs mix with dark tempestuous melodies as dusky as the pint of Guinness sitting before me to create a heavy, sludgy groove that is as enrapturing as it is nefarious.
After an extended turnaround arising from problems with the venue’s overhead projector, Ufomammut set out to deliver 70 minutes of seamless spaced out, psychedelic, trancy, droning doom. Urio’s towering bass lines build layers of hypnotic melancholy, in which dense harmonics mix with Poia’s heavy, down-tuned guitar riffs to produce boiling, broiling soundscapes of intense depth, but with enough neck snapping vitality to keep the majority of the respectably-sized audience’s going for most of the set (heck, there’s even one guy doing hardcore style throwdowns at the front of the stage!).
The ongoing problems with the visual backdrops don’t in any way diminish the atmospheric impact of the aural landscape, which has the effect of standing waist deep in a warm ocean with the water pulling at you and the onrushing tide breaking in your eardrums. It is a sound drawn from the throbbing underbelly of the late 60s/early 70s psychedelic doom sound, but placed in a thoroughly modern context in a way which is hypnotic and strangely inspirational in equal measures.
Ufomammut’s ‘Ecate’ tour continues in Dublin (Grand Social) tonight (Wednesday), before moving on to the Soup Kitchen in Manchester tomorrow (Thursday) and the Islington Academy in London on Friday.
‘Ecate’ is out now on Supernaturalcat.
Photographs by The Dark Queen. All content © PlanetMosh 2015.