Umbra - Umbra review
01. Embers Of Spectral Flame
02. Altered States
03. A Thousand Dirty Landscapes
04. Buried Beneath
05. Ethereal States Of Delusion And Unsettling Visions
06. Transcedental Architecture
07. Decompression Sickness
Although Umbra is a band that claims to have roots in black metal, this connection is only audible in the general coldness of the atmosphere that prevades on this album. Instead, what Umbra plays is a very fresh-sounding metallic form of rhythmic dark ambient with drone elements, not far detached from what the Cold Meat Industry label would offer.
The songwriting revolves around either producing or keeping a particular mood and the guitars are usually limited to being used as a texture instrument. The album starts with an ambient piece, which serves as a very suitable introduction to what lies ahead. The dark mood is set and we are ready to get into the trance that the monotonous beats (present in most of the pieces) instill on us. Naturally, monotony is not a negative term in this sort of music. Indeed, the harmony between ambient droning and the little changes that the listener is forced to look for is very well balanced. There is a very clear flow that makes the listening experience quite pleasant, even though the textures themselves that appear on this album can be quite harsh. What also deserves praise on this album is the orchestral, almost symphonic quality of the synth passages. In no way do they sound overdone or pompous and I see this as a great achievement in today's world where such passages are usually associated with excess and pretentiousness.
This is one album that should be listened to as a whole and for this reason highlighting the best tracks is fairly pointless. With this said, I was especially impressed by the phenomenal atmosphere and feeling that radiates from the third track on the album, "A Thousand Dirty Landscapes". What I personally feel while listening to the haunting, somber synth washes present in this piece is a feeling of profuse longing. I could easily see this piece being used as a soundtrack to some very depressive movie as its ability to stir feelings is definitely of filmic proportions. Another track that especially captured by attention is "Transcedental Architecture", which contains the only rock-oriented drum-guitar interplay on the album. I feel that it acts well as a connection of Umbra's ambient music to reality, which in this case is more traditionally minded rock music.
If you are a fan of atmospheric droning music chances are this album wont leave your CD-Player for a very long time. I know I listen to it quite often along with my Caspar Brotzmann Massaker, Atrium Carceri and Earth albums when I feel the need to use music as a means of getting into that twisted hypnotic trance-state. Totally recommended to anyone who knows what I am talking about in the previous sentence.
||Written on 15.10.2005 by|
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Grumpy Old Fuck
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