Psyche-doom power Ufomammut rewire and regroup, create slim, trim brawler in hypnotic ‘Fenice’

Photo by by Francesca De Franceschi Manzoni

I have a strange relationship with marijuana, and I should preface this isn’t intended to be some stoner piece that travels through the layers of drug use and heavy music. Instead, it’s more about calming my anxiety so that the effects of marijuana don’t undo me mentally, and I have combined ending my day with noise-canceling headphones and music to enhance my experience. I know. Groundbreaking.

I have found some records the past few weeks that really enhance my experience, and one is “Fenice,” the new album from longtime personal favorite Ufomammut, the Italian psyche-doom travelers. They have been in a similar mind frame as so many of us, trying to put together the pieces of disarray that could have undone us had we lacked strength. But for this band—guitarist/effects master Poia, bassist/vocalist/effects maker/synth player Urlo, drummer/effects wizard Levre, sound lord Ciccio—they learned from their past recording experiences and got back to their true essence, what really makes their spacey magic work the way it does. Over six tracks and an economical 38 minutes, the band captures your mind again, taking you on a mystical sojourn that, if you’re enjoying the effects of substances, will land even harder.

“Duat” opens the record and is the longest track at 10:34, sounds ringing out and static increasing. Strange blips reverberate as the guitars join in, a psychedelic trail blazed across the earth as the track trudges and punishes in the cosmos, ripping open and letting synth waves crash. The pace picks up as the bass flexes and chugs, and mystical energies combine with your own and are swallowed into the void. “Kepherer” is a quick instrumental, more of a bridge track that delivers echoed beats, static crawling through your mind, and the drums pulsating, working into “Psychostasia” and its hazy, impenetrable murk. Guitars float as the vocals search the stratosphere, deathrock vibes liquify the track in spots, and then things combust, making the journey a little rockier. The playing speeds up and jolts, the vocals power, and the final moments sizzle into vapor.

“Metamorphoenix” enters in a sonic buzz, voices warbling as the song slowly thaws. The playing carries through the air and into your dreams as hypnosis sinks in heavily, looping and repeating as it collides with “Pyramind” that delivers a crushing psychedelic assault on your senses. Voices echo as things plod purposefully, playing with fuzz, numbing your muscles before the intensity increases. A renewed push brings a bludgeoning force and fire, and that adds to the wilting steam and melds into closer “Empyros” that lands amid a quaking that’s joined in progress. Smashing and scraping, spacey synth swirls into your consciousness, fires lick the storm clouds, and everything spirals off into the mystery forever, leaving your nervous system tingling and challenged.

“Fenice” is a rebirth for a band that’s made some of the headier, most immersive doom and psychedelic power over their run, and it’s clear Ufomammut are ablaze again creatively and mentally. We’ve all had to find ways to restart our lives the past year or so as a sense of normalcy slowly has returned, and the energy we give off hopefully is positive and can lead to our own fuels burning cleaner. This is a record you can enjoy at any point—working, reading, traveling, enjoying some choice substances—and each setting makes for a completely different experience with this album.  

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