(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
Mammatus (2006) , 6.5/10
The Coast Explodes (2007), 4.5/10
Heady Mental (2013), 5/10
Sparkling Waters (2015), 4.5/10

Santa Cruz's Mammatus were inspired by Blue Cheer for their massive and loud suite Dragon of the Deep, a spiritual concept influenced by progressive and folk music, whose first two parts dominated Mammatus (Holy Mountain, 2006) and whose third part appeared on The Coast Explodes (Holy Mountain, 2007).

The first album opens with The Righteous Path Through The Forest Of Old that opens with a relentless instrumental sonata influenced by vintage horror soundtracks before sinking in Black Sabbath-ian cliches when the vocals enter. The eight-minute appetizer Dragon Of The Deep Part One opens with a rapid-fire jazzy guitar workout and ends with a cosmic droning crescendo. Unfortunately, that tension is almost completely missing from the 22-minute Dragon Of The Deep Part Two, even after the band begins its concerto of roaring cosmic glissandoes. In fact, the most enthralling section boils down to a disjointed, dissonant guitar soundscape. The brief indian raga The Outer Rim showed that there was another influence at work, although minimized in this recording.

The second album was vastly inferior. Dragon Of The Deep Part Three sounds like a lengthy leftover from the previous album. Pierce The Darkness and The Coast Explodes are collages of trivial stereotypes of the genre.

Heady Mental (2013) was another transitional album. The 17-minute Brain Train debuted a sort of progressive space-rock that bridges Hawkwind and Chrome, with a touch of Deep Purple. At least this piece does not let down.

Sparkling Waters (Spiritual Pajamas, 2015) turned back to a much lighter sound, almost Zen in spirit, and anchored in repetitive minimalism. The 22-minute Sparkling Waters Part One is 15 minutes of idyllic spaced-out trance and eight minutes of manic, swirling guitar frenzy. The 20-minute Sparkling Waters Part Two is even more somber and evascent, even reminiscent of the cosmic tapestry of Cluster (before the last five minutes of stoner routine). The 15-minute The Elkhorn begins in aggressive mode but soon sinks into a jelly of slow, transcendent sounds. The contrast is even stronger in the 17-minute Ornia, that starts out as tough and rough as the first album but then tiptoes for a long while before the final outburst.

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(Copyright © 2013 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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