Somewhat out of the blue came this international combo of Umbra Conscientia, releasing their debut album by the end of 2019 through the widely revered Terratur Possessions label. No demo, no EP, they went straight for the full-length. The fact that the debut album, ‘Yellowing Of The Lunar Consciousness’ sounded so good right away, is probably due to the fact that none of the three musicians are newbies. Despite only drummer A.N.L. (sometimes also known as Smellhammer) has experience in a more or less established band (Dysangelium), the band seems to know exactly where it wants to go musically.
Three years after the release of its debut, the band returns with their sophomore album which further pushes their boundaries into the various shades of Black Metal’s realm. The first album already made clear that we’re dealing with seasoned and talented musicians who knew how to pull off a great song. That is a feeling that has only became stronger with this new album. The band has a tremendous sense for atmosphere and haunting melodies and knows how to weave them into intriguing dynamics, in which slow, eerie passages and faster bursts alternate. Vocalist F. (Felipe Tencio of Death Metal band Astriferous) throws around his tormenting vocals in a relentless way that further enhances the suffocating atmosphere and embodies the album’s title, which translates to ‘Blackness Of The World’. Although these are not entirely conclusive comparisons and Umbra Conscientia certainly sounds more accessible in general, with this new album the band fits well in the same vein of unconventional and genre-redefining bands such as Deathspell Omega and Funeral Mist. The fact that the band sounds a bit more accessible is partly due to the good, clear sound (due to the excellent work of mixer Tim Hochkeppel) that leaves a lot of room for all instruments, so that the bass guitar also plays an audible role. But, also the less raw and chaotic character of the music helps the band to sound more mature. Although I am a big fan of the more furious and chaotic German Black Metal, such as Katharsis and the likes, I feel that the current musical direction fits Umbra Conscientia a lot better.
Although the band already sounded quite convincing on the debut, they have certainly matured a lot with this new album. Both in compositions, in which depth is now much more sought after, and also in the sound that now sounds more organic and natural than ever and broadens that depth even further. As the band seems to push their horizons quite a bit, it is with the greatest curiosity that I look forward to the next album.