The first thing that should grab you here should be the jaw-dropping artwork. It nails the alien- / sci-fi nature of most of Umbah’s body of work , but steps it up a notch much like the music on this ferocious beast of a CD. This would have been at the top of my 2011 top ten list, except it will be seeing release now, due to various reasons. Trust me, this wipes the floor with the tired mass of cliches that passes for industrial metal or tech-death these days. Its going to be one of the few times that I will do a track by track review.
Whipsers of a Dying Sun Part 1 starts out with a deceptively charging chug before descending into beat driven uber death madness. Then the calmer bits (relatively) show up, just to emphasize the horn raising nature of the riffing that hits the listener again. This opener does its job of getting the listener hooked with its melding of technical death metal and dark electronic touches.
Within a few seconds, you know you are in for a ride. All the signature elements that make Umbah such a treat are present. The riffing is no less than headbangingly awesome, while the electronica and sampling takes it places lesser musicians dream of. It manages to show Cal’s grasp of groove, brutality and the outer reaches of space in one go.
Temple Bar :
is a mid-paced charging freak rocker with the requisite synth and drum and bass flourishes (which are again quite different to typical dnb). The guitars remain top-notch, while vocals switch personalities at will.
Dr. Gieger :
One of my favorite tracks on this album, its a masterwork of the new metal weird. A sci-fi tech-death goth epic, you need to hear it NOW ! Once you hear it, try getting that refrain out of your head. Again, the accessible electro-goth elements blend seamlessly with technical death metal of the highest caliber. The schizophrenic vocal presence is in full force too, covering a lot of bases yet making it work in the context of the song.
Enter the Dagobah Core :
The futuristic drum and bass will have you dancing the cyborg in a jiffy, even as the strange aura envelops you. And when the guitars and vocals kick in, its like the perfection of what Skinny Puppy tried when introducing distorted guitars to their sound. Sounds are mangled beyond recognitions, yet fit the malfunctioning android groove like a cybernetic glove.
Hypnotic Implant :
Here is further proof that creativity and accessibility can mix in a brutal matter. The pads, synths , beats ad samples show the will and skills to explore that has always been a forte of UK electronica, while the guitar work simply crushes (Morbid Angel via Killing Joke !).
Cosmic Garland :
Extreme death metal through an alien filter that manages to sound effortlessly modern , especially with the very sci-fi electronic (calmer) bits. If you wanted an integral mix of damn near perfect metal and electronica (minus the cringe worthy cliches) this is your ticket. I have yet to hear anyone else marrying such savage forward thinking riffery and dizzying electronica.
Mad Zu Chong :
has some super tasty slower/doomier riffing along with aspects of the usual blitzkrieg, combined with Cal’s vocal personality # 475 (the goth intergalactic bounty hunter). Its strange, how like previous albums, the whole thing seems like a sci-fi concept album, but despite the lyrics and artwork its hard to fathom exactly what the plot is (or maybe its the cohesion of the concept of all the elements that’s making me read too much into it). Its more abstract this way and allows for various interpretations.
Oberon Tales :
Another tune that most tech-death bands would be too stuck up to write, this is almost a synth goth ballad, with a very memorable vocal performance backed by a understated but effective framework. The feel is decidedly epic,and you will be humming by the second or third listen. The metal parts will make you punch your Uranium 236 space modulator for sure.
Rackborn Skin Expulsion :
starts out closer to conventional extreme metal, yet would still freak out most metal heads (and guitarists) with the tremolo speed and discordance of the axework. It touches the outer limits of what is possible in technical brutal death metal arrangement, but always with the signature eccentricity of Umbah.
Serokate Fornion :
comes in with a head down modern groove and the disorienting vocal manifestations of the many clones of Cal. The mid-section using a very catchy and relatively simple progression to great effect before again venturing into a worm hole of avantgarde metal.
Zombinods aptly lurches, jitters, falls, picks itself up and stumbles towards you with a menacing bass riff. The vocals have a slight black metal rasp this time, which matches the odd menacing mood to the t. The bass and drum work stays top-notch through out.
Whispers of the Dying Sun Part 2 is on another plane entirely, a grinding haunting industrial ditty of anthemic proportions. You too can sing along :”No meaning, no meaning…” as your subconscious is seeded with the germs of an alien e-virus.
The level of consistency that Umbah has shown in its prolific output of the last 5 years (with a total discography spanning a decade) is a tribute to the sheer genius of Cal Scott. The fact that Umbah is still so unknown just confirms what a shitty BUSINESS mainstream metal really is,and that most CONSUMERS and so-called critics cannot see beyond the hype of the current flavour of the week. Here is a true testament to the vitality of the underground, and proof that true art follows no trends. All of that and more, while remaining so metal it hurts. I believe the holy grail of industrial / sci-fi metal has been found.
01 – Whispers Of The Dying Sun Part 1
02 – Bolderok Naron
03 – Temple Bar
04 – Dr. Geiger
05 – Enter The Dagobah Core
06 – Hypnotic Implant
07 – Cosmic Garland
08 – Mad Zu Chong
09 – Oberon Tales
10 – Rackborn Skin Expuslion
11 – Serokate Fornion
12 – Zombinods
13 – Whispers Of The Dying Sun Part 2