Mammoth Caravan – Ice Cold Oblivion
Mammoth Caravan is Southern Fried Doom. Going for a heavy-style Sludge/Doom mix, this Little Rock, AR trio delves into a primitive theme of hunting in a time when the mammoth roamed the plains. With Ice Cold Oblivion, they are dealing with the struggles of living in an era of uncertainty about the ability to hunt and gather due to weather negatively affecting herd migration patterns. However, no Arkansan will ever say it’s too cold to hunt (I lived there for over 20 years). Either way, what Mammoth Caravan has created is thought-provoking, Doom-laden Metal.
- Evan Swift – Guitar/Vocals
- Brandon Ringo – Bass/Vocals
- Robert Warner – Drums
February 25. 2023
- Ice Cold Oblivion
- Nomad (feat. Mat Johnson)
The album opens with the title track, “Ice Cold Oblivion.” Wild sound effects start the song, then a slow riff oozes into being with a steady drum beat that grows in intensity. At seven and a half minutes, this is a song that has time to ebb and flow through some different sections, all while setting the tone for the whole record. The bass is well-modulated and has a great sludgy tuning. The vocals are almost all harsh, though the chants are cleaner. With two singers, you get different qualities in many areas, even though the phrasing is the same. It creates an interesting mix.
“Nomad” is the shortest song in just over four minutes. The rhythm feels faster, increasing the song’s intensity. This song seems to be about the hunter following the herd, wandering to stay in contact with the food source rather than settling down to harvest. Then, “Petroglyphs” is about the markings left for others who may follow this path. It’s the story of his glorious hunt, maybe. “Petroglyphs” is slow and more ambient initially, though it gets heavy after that extended intro.
Slowing back down, “Megafauna,” is an exercise in heaviness. That Sludgy, Doom-laden riff is more than just standard fare. This is where I get the “Southern Fried” feel to their sound. Much like Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special in the Rock realm, Mammoth Caravan has taken an art form and made it something new and different. Maybe it’s the hunting theme that gives this impression, but it matters not. This description is stuck in my head, and I hear it pervading the entire album like the common thread throughout.
“Periglacial” is landforms around glaciated areas, meaning lands marked by where the glaciers used to be. Those were often very fertile areas where animals thrived because they had plenty of access to fauna for food in those areas. Again, the drums use some variable patterns under the rhythm to create newer textures in the composition. A nice down-tempo adjustment slows the whole thing down before the drive to the end of the song. That interlude is quite nicely done.
The album concludes with “Frostbite,” a 10-plus minute song where the younger mammoth gets isolated from the herd, the most common tactic in nomadic hunting. It gets frozen, possibly to be found millennia later, intact, and waiting for discovery. There are more guitar fills and flairs in this track, and there is a minor Progressive attitude to the composition. At 10 minutes, the band has plenty of time to show off each instrument. They wander through the soundscape, creating a jam-session feel to the track.
Mammoth Caravan is an interesting band. Stoner/Doom Metal in the land of Country music, daring to venture off the beaten path and do something entirely different. Having lived in Central Arkansas until 2015, I know there was no big Metal scene, but it was always there. I was not really linked to it, but I have immense respect for anyone who dares to challenge the norm. They are not the usual sound, and that is good. They have a unique feel to them, which is impressive in this day and age.
- Guitars – 8
- Rhythms – 8
- Vocals – 8
- Songwriting – 8
- Production – 8
- Overall – 8.00