The man’s proficiency knows no bounds. He is back with another amazing release, and to boot it could be his best work yet. Taking the bizarre twisting industrial extreme metal sound from his previous albums, Cal morphs it into a thing of dystopian beauty. This is musical insanity in its truest form.
I will now dissect some of the album’s hi-light tracks to try and get your feeble brains to comprehend the genius at work here.
A Zen Horizon – References some older Umbah material, but manages to be disturbing in its minimalism, which lends the occasional strange samples and
the eerie background synths even more potency. The vocals are mangled by multi-stage processing in places, and the song structure will make most metal musicians weep blood. Strangely, despite the complexity, the main motif sticks like glue.
Beehive – This could be the lead video single in a world where MTV stood for Masticating Teleportation Visuals. A massive track that shows Cal sculpting an insanely catchy tune, with some dark twining riffing and synthy rhythms that explode into rage and similarly back and forth. Great sense of timing and in no time this will have you shouting ‘I think its a robotic beehive, I think Im only human left alive.’ If there was any justice in the world, this could break into more mainstream metal since its the closest thing to accessible on this album, while remaining very much an Umbah song.
Mesoria a Larkara – Continuing this new-found vitality of fresh sounds, this sounds plain epic, and veers into sympho-metal territory (if the orchestra was conducted by Skinny Puppy). It rips through the heart of a million bands pretending artistic integrity via a couple of violas. The juxtaposition of discordant stop start riffing, rich synths, insane screeches, beautiful piano runs and squeaky violas will leave you breathless. I was thinking of Umbah progressing but did not expect this. Wow!
Sheep of Sad Fate – More upfront brutal than the other tracks, this shreds in classic Umbah style, but gain it has a doomy underbelly to the lightning fast grind death framework. Riffing is top notch all the way. And what is it with the drums? In most places it sounds like someone is actually playing/bashing a drumkit instead of programming it. This guy just rips apart digital drum programming. The atonal riffing layers attack and slay yet remain faithful to the song, and the outro is absolutely nuts, with the haunting sounds and funky drums.
Trilobeth – The heaviest song on the record, and an absolute head smasher of a track. The soundtrack to a mad alien-cyborg killing spree, this once again raises the bar for death metal, with its aggression, guitar work, structure and vocals.
To a Somber Place – A soundtrack to a non-existent 70’s euro-art thriller, with some very authentic tones and textures. Takes cues from jazz and avant garde classic and takes it to new heights.
Torn Again – More overtly industrial than some of the other tracks, this is a disturbing looping morphing slice of insanity. Imagine Skinny Puppy and Controlled Bleeding jamming, and take it from there.
The tracks I have not mentioned are just as awesome, and it is hard to choose a favourite. In a nutshell, if you are already familiar with Umbah, prepare to be pleasantly surprised at the evolution, and if you are not, prepare to have your socks blown off and brains melted. As ever, the whole thing is available for free download at http://www.umbah.co.uk/cybergrind/mp3z.htm
I actually feel guilty for downloading it because it blows most of the albums I paid for out of the water. This is further proof that the best avant garde metal is still being created in the darkest recesses of the underground, and has little to do with monetary concerns.
01 – A Happy Story
02 – The Fall Of Modern Thought
03 – Beryllium Crisis
04 – A Little Uneasy
05 – Sheep Of Sad Fate
06 – BeeHive
07 – Mesoria A Larkara
08 – A Zen Horizon
09 – Trilobeth
10 – To A Somber Place
11 – Subconscience Function
12 – Torn Again