In tha Umbra - _Descend Supreme Sunset_
(Art Music, 1998)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7 out of 10)
In spite of the relatively high number of struggling young black metal bands that have recently popped up all over Portugal, very few of them have made it as far as the release of a full length. In tha Umbra are one of these and, although somewhat flawed in some areas, this 50 minute long debut of theirs is quite acceptable. The guitar work in this mid-paced black metal release reminds me of early Cradle of Filth -- a clear influence for the band, at least considering some of the lyrics and nice (although unoriginal) layout. The music, however, doesn't carry much of those gothic influences. But back to the guitar work: even though it's nothing brilliant technically, it's usually quite effective; the problem is that the album suffers from poor production, especially as far as the guitar sound is concerned. It may be that the band themselves have opted for this rawer sound, but it's their loss: the raw effect wasn't very well achieved and ended up harming the guitar work more than creating a better atmosphere, at least in my opinion. Keyboards should perhaps have been a more frequently used solution in this album; the keyboards in "Like Ravens 'Neath Nightskies", for example, make all the difference, reminding me of Osculum Infame's brilliant "The Nine Ghosts of the Ring of Power" and the rest of _Dor-Nu-Fauglith_, in which the keyboards were often missed when they were silent. It may be true that more keyboards would end up softening the intended raw feel of both albums a lot, but that's no excuse for the weak guitar sound. If the guitars were able to make the music sound strong all by themselves, then the need for more keyboards would certainly diminish. Despite this and the rather mediocre death vox, "As Dusk Weaves the Night", "Flowers for a Funeral", "Like Ravens 'Neath Nightskies", the title track and also the epilogue carry that certain raw appeal more successfully than the others and flow quite well. The other tracks generally tend to contain several weaker sequences, but this is still an interesting debut album.

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(article published 19/11/1998)

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