It’s been a whirlwind year or so for Portland sludge-slingers Mammoth Salmon. Paul Dudziak (guitar / vocals) & Mitch Meidinger (drums) came together in summer 2012 and released their debut EP by Christmas. On the EP, the duo threw their collective hat into the ring of contenders for the title of heaviest band in the world. By spring the band had a second three song EP on bandcamp which carried much the same weight as its predecessor, only the songs were becoming longer, the band were beginning to explore the limits of their own creations allowing chords to ring and drone.
This tendency to ring out and drone away continues into the band’s recently released third EP ‘Call of the Mammoth’. Droney sensibilities give each of the five songs on the EP scope and heft even though none of them surpass the nine minute mark and three of them stop short of five minutes in length. The album’s 27 minutes are drenched in ponderous heaviness as befitting the band’s name. Instrumental “Dark Descent” kicks things off in an unassuming way, as wah guitar drips from the ceiling like water from a stalagtite before descending into the cave of crash heavy darkness. Musically, cavernous themes are further explored on “In Constant Darkness”.
By this point ‘The Call of the Mammoth’ has established its own distinctive feel. The songs are slow but short and they pulsate the way you might imagine cave walls breathe exerting tremendous pressure on the listener. In a live setting, it must be an almost devotional experience, fans of the slow and heavy rolling in the aisles of the venue with rolling eyes and glossolalia on their tongues. “Sacred Smoke” does nothing to dislodge the listener from this state. The title track drags the listener further into the dark netherworld. The track kicks off with a Lee Dorrian style vocal, although Cathedral never got this dark and just as the song is about to hammer away with increasing excitement, they veer in an unexpected direction, hitting the nail on the head with a zombie-slow, droney middle section. This is the beauty of spelunking, there’s no end to the twists and turns the band can take and they come by them honestly. It’s only then that we can delve miles beneath the surface into “Eulogy”.
“Eulogy” is the slowest, longest building song the band has yet attempted and I’ll say this of the listening experience. If you’re not fully enthralled in what the band is doing by this point, you might not want to see it through to its conclusion. A close listen however ensures that ‘Call of the Mammoth’ becomes an addictive experience, you will want to become lost in the depth of this EP again and again.
With this EP the band is beginning to master its own techniques while continuing to experiment and push their own limits. Since the release of ‘Call of the Mammoth’, Mammoth Salmon has also introduced a third full-time member in the form of bassist Alex Bateman which should only further deepen the band’s sound. The band is currently working on releasing a pair of tracks from this EP on a 7” record so check their facebook for updates and stay tuned. Despite being a newer band on the scene, Mammoth Salmon has established an identity that distinguishes them from most Portland bands and they’ve kept a good pace of releasing material, it’s a bit early to start comparing the band to Neurosis or YOB or Cathedral, but they’re not far off by this point, it’s been fun to watch these guys develop.
words by Lucas Klaukien