Ufomammut & Coltsblood @ Soup Kitchen
Manchester’s worshippers of slow, psychedelic and frighteningly heavy music had a double treat this month with a Thursday-Friday double whammy of shows in the increasingly dark and cold city. Of course the return of The Melvins was the show that was the talk of the town, but tonight’s Ufomammut & Coltsblood gig served as the perfect hors d’oeuvre or as - if like me you dithered about getting a ticket before they sold out and have to miss it completely - a healthy alternative option.
I lost count of the number of infuriating and jealousy inducing times I was asked if I was going to The Melvins by the many familiar faces present so it was clear before the gig that the Gorilla show was clearly a hot ticket. After the show though, the only band on anyone’s lips were Ufomammut.
But let that not be a discredit to support band Coltsblood. Unfortunately due to an annoyingly early curfew of 10pm and an early start, Soup Kitchen’s dark and dingy basement was barely half-full when they began their gruelling onslaught, but the few that did manage to catch their set thoroughly had their arses handed to them.
The Liverpudlians trio’s band of terrifyingly bleak, blackened doom is certainly not for the faint hearted but thankfully most in attendance are made of stern enough stuff to be able to withstand, nay, actually enjoy the dirge spat out before them. The room smells of incense, the band is swathed in blood red lighting and for half an hour Coltsblood pour their everything into creating the most unholy noise imaginable.
Bass player John McNulty lays down slabs of pulverising low end through which guitarist Jemma McNulty weaves lines of atonal feedback and lead lines that sound as harrowing as the wails of something dying. In the abyss beneath, Jay Plested lays down warlike rhythms that veer between glacially slow to swirling blast beats. In the audience, heads bang, jaws drop agape and by the end it’s as if we barely look each other in the eye after sharing such a grim but exhilarating experience.
In the absence of a cold shower, a couple of cigarettes in the cold air and a catch up with members of Brother Earth, Nomad and Mower in the alley outside Soup Kitchen manage to cleanse the spirit after it was so masterfully sullied by Coltsblood. Somehow, by the time we re-descend into the bowels of the venue, the place has filled up and we have to push through the crowd to be able to get even a half decent view point from which to see the main event.
And what a main event it is. Behind the Italian space-doom masters is a huge projector screen on which jarring visions that look like they’re being beamed straight from the brain of a psychopath, mid-LSD trip flicker, enhancing the otherworldly synths that underpin the trio’s slab-heavy riffs.
Ufomammut take a few minutes to really warm up though. It’s like the mammoth from which their name is derived is awakening from an icy slumber, shaking off the cobwebs. After a few silent gestures are exchanged between frontman/bass player Urlo and their sound tech, everything clicks into space and they make their full, meandering ascent into the stratosphere.
These guys know how to really milk a riff for all it’s worth, locking themselves into a groove and sticking with it until it is fully carved deep into their audience’s collective psyche, which makes even the slightest subtle change fizz and crackle. As the songs meld into one another the pace lurches between hypnotically slow to a mid-paced canter, but as I’m sure you can imagine, when something as heavy as a mammoth gets anything above a trot, devastation ensues.
With the down tuned, fuzzed-out riffs, the tribal drum assault and the swirling synths, an incredibly dense wall of sound is created, its mass sucking everyone present into this psychedelic vortex. The sheer volume of Ufomammut combined with the cramped enclaves of the venue itself mean that it is one of those gigs that you feel as well as hear, every note sending vibrations through to the very marrow of your bones. By the end of their sprawling encore, beers are raised, jaws are scraped from the floor and it’s almost as if everyone has forgotten about the You-Know-Who-vins coming to town (Although according to Phil, they were quite good too!).
Words: Adam Robertshaw